How to Do More in Less Time- College Student’s Guide to Time Management

How to Do More in Less Time- College Student’s Guide to Time Management

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And 80 percent of professors say that students struggle with this issue “most of the time”. There are a lot of things to juggle during college. Between social life, sports, clubs, classes and sleep, how can students make the most of their time?

Here are some tips to improve your time management skills in college:

Make a schedule

If you want to increase your productivity, the first step is getting organized. How can you plan your week and target your efforts if you don’t know what’s coming up next? It’s like planning to win a marathon without knowing which direction you’re running in.

You can make a list of your classes and commitments and figure out which times are best for you to study. Or you can use a program like Google Calendars to organize your schedule. Once you lay things out in front of you, it should be clear if you’re taking on too many commitments.

While clubs and extracurricular activities are an important part of college life, in the long-run, your Calculus grade will remain on your permanent record while being Secretary of the Environmental Club may not have as significant an impact in your life. If clubs and activities are affecting your academics, you may need to reconsider your priorities.

Use a productivity technique

It may well be the case that the psychological effects of using a technique are more effective than the technique itself. That’s because when you adopt a time management system, such as the currently trendy Pomodoro Technique, it gives you the feeling that you are in control of your time management. According to a study published in The Journal of Educational Psychology, this feeling of being in control of the way you spend your time can result in better quality work and reduced stress, both important factors in productivity.

Eliminate distractions

Did you know that some of the most famous writers, inventors and entrepreneurs are not only legends in their given fields, but in the lengths they’ve gone to in order to make sure they could work distraction-free? Author Graham Greene rented a secret office that only his wife knew about. Famed inventor Tesla was apparently celibate because he didn’t have time for relationships and inventions.

Though these may be extreme examples, in our modern, distraction-ridden world, it’s helpful to reduce the number of interruptions you’re exposed to when it comes to study time. Turning off cell phones, eliminating social media pop-ups and alerts on your laptop when doing research, disconnecting from the internet completely, if possible, can all help you focus on your given task.

Get enough sleep

Sleep is oh so important to brain function. While the fabled all-nighter is still all too common on college campuses as the solution to unwritten term papers and upcoming exams, the truth is that the brain simply functions better when it’s running on a full night’s sleep.

The consequences of sleep deprivation and their effect on productivity are so dire that it’s estimated that businesses in the U.S. lose $411 billion dollars a year due to poor performance at work because of workers not getting enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can have negative effects on brain cognition, memory, mood, and, if experienced over a long period of time, your health, so make sure you pencil in 8-10 hours of sleep a night.  Want to sleep more? Have a smart friend by your side to outsource micro-tasks, research or writing essays, but you have to think twice before you pay someone to write your essay.

Study on the go

You can make use of those hours in the day when you’re not doing anything, like waiting for your doctor’s appointment or riding the bus. Instead of doing nothing, you can review your notes, write an outline for a paper due next week or get a jumpstart on new material. You don’t have to be seated in your room or in the library in order to study. Added up over time, these stolen moments of studying can help increase your productivity. 

Take breaks

Let’s face it, we’re humans, not machines. There will be days when you’re on top of your game and other days when you just can’t concentrate if your life depended on it. The brain needs time to distract itself and de-stress so when you feel on the verge of burnout, don’t power through. It can actually be counter-productive.

Tony Schwartz, author of Be Excellent at Anything,  suggests taking short recovery breaks. While Schwartz champions the idea of a power nap there are other things you can do to refresh yourself, too. Taking a walk can increase oxygen in the brain and reduce stress levels, both good for concentration. Cooking, listening to music, or another non-academic and soothing activity can help calm the nerves and allow you the breathing room you need to come back to your studies with more energy and a clear mind.

Learning how to manage a schedule, how to make the most of down time, knowing when to take a break, cutting out distractions, adopting a productivity technique and getting enough zzz’s can all help today’s college student do more in less time. Good luck and happy studying!

Image Credit: Pixabay

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