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 Time

There’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 Schedule

A 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.