The freedom of managing your own time in college is exciting, but can also be stressful, because the motivation for getting things done falls on your shoulders. However, unless you learn sound organizational skills -- and stick with them -- you're less likely to develop the habits needed to succeed academically. Time management and goal-setting skills are the hallmarks of this approach, which also gives you the space to balance your academic, personal and social needs.
With so many assignments due at different times, planning is necessary to keep track of them. One method recommended by Duke University's Academic Resource Center is to record the due dates for all academic activities -- such as exams, quizzes and term papers -- onto a semester calendar and break them down into monthly, weekly and daily planners. This organizational tactic promotes an awareness of the big picture and what's needed to accomplish each task.
Effective Study Habits
Success in college is less likely without effective study habits. Giving yourself time to learn is part of that strategy. Daily and weekly review sessions are helpful for improving long-term recall of important material. Most subjects require six hours of study per week, or two hours for each hour of in-class time, according to study tips prepared by Mayland Community College. You'll also need to allow longer blocks of time for special situations, such as a big test.
Good Note-Taking Skills
Good note-taking skills reinforce the lectures in which an instructor introduces the core concepts of his class and previews material likely to appear on exams. Instead of taking down every word, students should focus on the main ideas and themes, according to advice posted by Princeton University. In this approach, known as the Cornell Method, students use consistent abbreviations, and leave enough room to jot down questions. All notes should be reviewed within 24 hours, which increases the likelihood of retaining the material.
College life is notorious for its many distractions, so it's important to set priorities. One way to rank activities by their respective urgency and importance, according to a time management handout prepared by Vance-Granville Community College. At a glance, you can see which activities require immediate attention, and which ones can wait. Once you've made up your mind, you can enter those decisions into your weekly calendar, as well.
Students often underestimate how long it takes to get tasks done. That's why allowing empty blocks of time for academic and personal needs is important, according to Duke University's time management guidelines. Trying to regiment schedules too closely increases the likelihood of procrastination, or other bad habits. More importantly, you need time to relax and re-focus, which can make you more likely to follow a schedule.
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.