How important is time management to your academic success?Time is a precious and irreplaceable commodity. How you use time can determine your success or failure in school or college. If you use time wisely, you’ll succeed. If you use it poorly, you’ll fail in the job you came to do. That’s why the management of time is the number one skill to master in college.
Although many people waste time needlessly and habitually, you needn’t put yourself in the same position. You can gain extra time by reclaiming lost time, by sticking to a schedule, and by staying organized, which will help you use your time more eﬁciently.
All of us have claimed that we don’t have enough time to accomplish what we need to do. But the fact is that everyone is allotted the same amount of time: twenty-four hours a day. Many of us allow a lot of this time to go to waste by failing to realize it is available in the ﬁrst place. In addition, it’s often our day-to-day habits, activities we no longer notice that save time or waste it. You can put your time to better use by pinpointing areas of “hidden” time and cultivating time-saving habits.
Hidden TimeThere’s a lot of valuable time in your day that is being overlooked simply because you didn’t realize it was time you could use. For those who ﬂush tiny slivers of soap down the drain or toss small scraps of cloth into the wastebasket, there are others who combine those slippery bits and pieces into a whole new bar of soap or stitch discarded shreds into a comfortable quilt. Think of all the time you spend standing in line or even waiting for a trafﬁc light to change. If you could ﬁnd ways to make use of this “hidden” time, you could almost certainly add hours to each week.
Carry Pocket Work Many situations may leave you with a few moments of unexpected free time a long line at the bank or supermarket, a delayed bus or train, a wait at the doctor’s ofﬁce, a lunch date who arrives late. If you make a point to bring along a book, a photocopied article, index cards on which you’ve written key concepts, vocabulary words, or formulas, you’ll be able to take advantage of otherwise frustrating experiences.
Use Your Mind When It’s Free Some activities may afford an overlooked opportunity for studying if you’re prepared. For example, if you’re shaving, combing your hair, or washing dishes, there’s no reason you can’t be studying at the same time. Because many of us tend to “zone out” in such situations, they are excellent opportunities to use time that might otherwise be squandered. Attach small metal or plastic clips near mirrors and on walls at eye level. Place a note card in each clip. Do a math problem or two, or master some new vocabulary words as you eat a sandwich at work.
Record Study Information Another way of using hidden time is by listening to information you’ve recorded on MP3 ﬁles or burned onto CDs. Recorded information enables you to keep studying in situations where you’re moving about or your eyes are otherwise occupied, such as when you’re getting dressed or driving. In addition, recorded information can provide a refreshing change from written material.
Employ Spare-Time Thinking You can make the most of the moments immediately before or after class by recalling the main points from the last lecture as you’re heading to class or by quickly recalling the points of a just completed lecture as you’re leaving class.
Use Your Subconscious At one point or another, you have awakened during the night with a bright idea or a solution to a problem that you had been thinking about before bedtime. Your subconscious works while your conscious mind is resting. If you want to capture the ideas or solutions produced by your subconscious, write them down as soon as you wake up; otherwise, they’ll be lost. Many creative people know this and keep a pad and pencil near their beds.
Change Your Time Habits
Habits, by their very nature, are things we do routinely without even thinking. Most of us are unaware of our habits unless someone or something draws attention to them. A good way to take inventory of your time habits is by keeping a daily activities log. From the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep, note all your major activities, the time you started and ﬁnished each, and the time each activity consumed. With your day itemized on paper, you can gain a clearer picture of where your time is being spent and where it’s being wasted.
Once you have the concrete evidence of a daily activities log before you, you can begin to eliminate your time-wasting habits and develop or reinforce the time- saving ones.
Limit Texting, E-mail, and Internet Time As marvelous as they can be, text messages, e-mail, as well as the Internet in general can all be tremendous “time sinks,” swallowing up hours in a typical day. Rather than checking it constantly, designate speciﬁc times during the day when you read and send e-mail or cell phone text messages. It’s true that e-mail and texting have sped up communication, but it’s a rare message that can’t wait a while before being read or sent. The same applies to any Web surﬁng you may do, whether for schoolwork or pleasure. Time has a tendency to ﬂy by as you click from one link to the next. You can help keep things under control by setting a timer when you surf and returning to your studies when the timer goes off.
Take “Time Out” Reward yourself with regular short breaks as you work. Learning in several small sessions, rather than in one continuous stretch, increases comprehension. In one study, students who practiced English vocabulary in three discrete sessions did 35 percent better on an exam than those who tried to learn the words in one sitting.3 So take a breather for ten minutes every hour, or rest for ﬁve minutes every half-hour. Whichever method you choose, keep your breaks consistent. This way, you’ll study with more energy and look forward to your regular rests. When you return to your desk, you’ll ﬁnd that you feel more refreshed.
Listen to Your Body All of us are subject to circadian rhythms. That is, we have periods when we’re most wide-awake and alert and other periods when we’re sluggish or drowsy. In general, we’re sleepiest a few hours before dawn and twelve hours later, in mid-afternoon. In keeping with these natural cycles, we’re widest awake about every twelve hours, usually at mid-morning and again in mid-evening. Knowing this can help you plan the day’s activities more strategically.
Stick to a ScheduleA time schedule is a game plan, a written strategy that spells out exactly what you hope to accomplish during a day, a week, or even the entire term and how you plan to do it. Committing yourself to planning and keeping to a schedule can seem a bit frightening at ﬁrst, but following a schedule soon becomes a source of strength and a boon to your life. There are several beneﬁts to a schedule.
A schedule provides greater control. A thoughtfully constructed time schedule can increase your sense of control in four ways.
First, because your schedule is written down, your plans seem more manageable. You can start working without delay.
Second, you know you’ll study all your subjects even those you dislike because you’ve allotted time for them in your schedule. There’s less of a temptation to skip disliked subjects when study time has already been set aside for them.
Third, a schedule discourages laziness. You’ve got a plan right in front of you, and that plan says, “Let’s get down to business!” Fourth, you can schedule review sessions right from the start and avoid last-minute cramming for tests.