The ability to effectively plan, schedule and use your time is critical to academic success in college. Students moving from high school to a university often don't recognize the rigorous demands of a college education. In addition to a 12- to 15-credit schedule as a full-time student, you are generally expected to spend two hours per credit hour each week in study. This makes for a 36- to 45-hour school week. Thus, school, work and personal life balance is essential.
The first step in managing time is to schedule it. Universities often offer students free or low-cost daily planners in student handbooks or as part of orientation programs. You should map out how you will spend your week between class, study, social events and work, if applicable. Without blocking out study time, it is easy to get distracted by television, video games and social activities. Along with designating your class and study time, make note of tests, projects and homework to ensure you complete your work by deadlines.
Organization and time management usually go hand-in-hand. By keeping your books, notebooks, folders, papers and class materials neatly organized, you can more easily find them when needed and avoid wasted time looking for them. Organized notes are essential for effective use of study time. Academic support centers at universities often provide workshops on how to organize lecture notes for efficient and effective study. Organized files can help you better track work due and work completed and protect against looking for missing assignments.
The activities you invest your time in offer a good depiction of how your life is prioritized. Keeping a weekly log of activities for your first few weeks can help you track how you spend your time. If you see that parties and friends or other forms of entertainment take away from adequate study time, you need to revisit your priorities. Similarly, consider your work-school balance. If school is your main priority, communicate with your employer that you need a schedule that allows for adequate class and study time. Don't procrastinate on important projects, as this can lead to late or incomplete work, stress and ultimately, class failure.
If time management is a struggle, pay a visit to your academic support center right away. You can receive one-on-one help from an expert on various time-management and efficiency techniques. Learn how to study more efficiently through reading and note-taking tips, and discover methods for taking breaks to optimize your concentration. You can also learn how to complete work and papers more efficiently through idea mapping and outlining activities before you begin work. Practicing some specific efficiency techniques and mastering them can help you build highly effective time-management habits.