Good grades don't happen by accident. Success in college depends on learning time management skills that boost your academic performance. There's nothing complicated about most time management techniques, beyond a commitment to keeping a schedule, eliminating distractions and preparing ahead of time for important tests or quizzes. Once you've learned these habits, you'll be a step ahead of classmates who put socializing above studying in their list of personal priorities.
Customize Your Schedule
Scheduling is a critical part of time management in college. To deal with all your various academic commitments, the University of Colorado recommends creating multiple schedules. Start by making a daily to-do list, and follow it as closely as possible. Break long-term assignments into smaller portions, and set aside short blocks of time every week to complete them. To make projects less arduous, start with the hardest tasks first, and work down to the easier ones.
Limit Study Sessions
Too often, college students assume that a longer study session ensures better returns. You're better off studying in 45- to 60-minute bursts, followed by 5- to 10-minute breaks. Limit straight memorization to 20 or 30 minutes. This approach focuses the brain, and reinforces your own learning, according to Cuesta College. You'll make better use of study periods, and feel less tempted to indulge in all-night "cramming" sessions before a crucial assignment or test comes up.
Minimize Any Distractions
College life is notorious for numerous distractions. Shut off cell phones and other portable devices before you start studying, so phone calls or text messages don't disrupt you, the University of Colorado advises. Remember that it takes five minutes to re-focus after each interruption, which is why you shouldn't check emails or visit social media sites during study breaks. Allowing too many of these distractions to creep into study sessions will make it difficult to get back on track.
Organize Your Materials
Good grades are harder to obtain without a system to organize class materials. Buy a student planner for recording activities, assignments and appointments, advises the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. You should also get a three-ring binder that enables the easy insertion of notes and materials for each class. For lecture periods, highlight important points and underline key terms, so you can find them easily when you're reviewing notes after class.
Always keep an eye on your scheduling needs. For example, you should prioritize each task on daily to-do lists, so you always know if something needs action now, or can wait until tomorrow. However, be careful not to overextend yourself. Consider social invitations against the daily priorities list that you've created. Sticking with a schedule minimizes your chances of losing focus, and makes opportunities for free time more meaningful when you do take advantage of them.
Ralph Heibutzki's articles have appeared in the "All Music Guide," "Goldmine," "Guitar Player" and "Vintage Guitar." He is also the author of "Unfinished Business: The Life & Times Of Danny Gatton," and holds a journalism degree from Michigan State University.