Today, many college students feel like they do not have the time to get everything done; this especially applies to the non-traditional learner. Work, family, school, and other obligations are constantly competing with each other for the students’ valuable time. Some students become overwhelmed with all of these obligations and drop out of school. This can be avoided with simple time management techniques the student can implement on a daily basis.
Time management is simply the way you regulates or schedules your time. It is an important skill to master because it can help the student manage the various responsibilities in life: school, work, family, and many other activities. If this skill is correctly learned and applied, it can actually save the student time.
Time management is a very important tool for a student’s tool belt, and it can be applied by using a few simple steps:
First, a student must think about everything he or she does in a typical day. This can be done by providing a student with a blank schedule and asking him or her to write everything down; this includes meals, bathing, travel time, family time, work, classes, and anything else that may occur during the day. Often, there are one to two hour blocks of time available that the student never realized existed prior to this activity. Some students may view this time as free or available time, but these time blocks should be seen as available study time. Bringing the student’s attention to these available blocks of time will help him or her realize there is enough time in the day to study.
Next, it is important to help the student prepare for how much study time is required per class taken. The usual rule of thumb is two hours of studying for every one credit hour of the class. So, a class with three credit hours will require six hours of studying. This formula helps the student find the minimum amount of time needed to study for a class. Study time will have to be adjusted to compensate for course difficulty, grade goals, and time needed to complete certain assignments. The two to one is just a starting point for the student. As the quarter progresses, the student will be able to adjust this time to fit his or her needs.
Organization is key when it comes to time management. The more organized the student is, the better he or she will be able to apply time management skills. The first step in this organization is to create an assignment calendar. An assignment calendar is a blank calendar in which the student can write all of his or her assignments for the month. It is important to include all assignments, quizzes, and exams. This calendar should be posted where the student can easily see it. The assignment calendar provides a visual aid for the student so he or she can easily reference it and know what tasks need to be done.
Another great organization tool is a weekly task list; a list of all assignments, quizzes, and exams due for the following week. This list can be made by using the assignment calendar. It helps the student see the smaller “chunks” that need to be accomplished during the week. Oftentimes, the student will look at the assignment calendar and feel overwhelmed at the amount of work he or she has to do. The student is too focused on the “big picture.” By creating the weekly task lists, the student is better able to see that the tasks are manageable in smaller pieces. From the weekly task list, the student can create daily “to-do” lists; lists of what the student plans to accomplish each day. These daily “to-do” lists break down the tasks even further for the student.
At this point, the student may be wondering why he or she created all of these lists and calendars. The answer is simple – now the student can assign these tasks to the available time identified earlier. As mentioned before, it is important to not ignore the one-hour time blocks; many tasks can be complete during this time. Reading a chapter, completing a math assignment, starting an outline, and many other tasks can be completed in only an hour. The student will start to realize there is enough time in the day for school and everything else; time management skills just need to be fine-tuned.
Time management is an important skill to learn and use while in school. Many obligations and activities can start to get in the way of a student’s school work and needs. A student may simply think there is not enough time for everything and quit school. By implementing time management skills while in school, students will realize there is enough time in the day; they have to identify it and use it wisely.
Van Blerkom. , Solomon, , & Tyler, (2008). Success Strategies. Ohio: Cengage.
About the Author: This article was written by Kristie Urban, Learning Center Coordinator at Rasmussen College at the Ocala, FL college campus. In this role, she supports the educational growth of all students at the Ocala campus. She is a member of the Rasmussen College Support + network.