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Time management is a skill you can learn and practice

By Chelsea Hall, 2nd-year Life Sciences student

Time is of the essence for every student.  Between managing a full course load, being involved in the school community through extra-curriculars, trying to maintain a social life, and desperately needing to sleep, it can easily seem as if there is not enough time to get everything you want to (or even need to) get done. I speak from experience when I say that it is all too easy to become overwhelmed!

Time management is one of the biggest determinants of academic success and it can be incredibly difficult to successfully manage one’s time in a university setting!

The good news is time management is a skill that can be learned and practiced. The following is a list of some useful strategies that can help any student plan more effectively.

1. Consider school to be your full time job. For each course you take, plan on spending 10 hours a week on homework, lectures and tutorials, review, etc. University is demanding and, on top of lectures, students have assignments, labs and readings to complete in any given week! A great strategy is to work (including class time) from 9am-5pm throughout the week. Having set hours helps maintain consistency and will help you better manage your time! Although designating eight hours a day may not always be manageable, it is a good goal to strive for. Studying for exams and tests may be additional time allocated to your fifty hours.

2. Reduce distractions. In today’s age of social media, it is all too easy to get distracted. Between watching that TV show on Netflix, texting your friends about weekend plans, casually checking Facebook, Instagram, Twitter… one can waste countless hours procrastinating or sit through an entire lecture without paying attention. Work away from distractions and turn off technology when you are not using it for your studies! The time you save will add up in the long run! A useful tip to help with limiting distractions is to follow the 50:10 rule: consistently work for 50 minutes and then take a 10 minute break where you allow yourself to check your phone, social media, get up for a walk, etc.  Studying in work/break chunks of time will help you maintain focus for longer as well.

3. Get organized. Organize yourself through the use of calendars, agendas, to-do lists or some personal means of organization. This will enable you to keep track of all due dates, upcoming assignments and better prepare for exams so that last minute cramming can be avoided. A great tip is to generate both a weekly schedule and a four month calendar that will give you an overview of the entire term!

Time management is never an easy task, but with different strategies it can be made a lot easier!  Everyone is unique and the most important thing is to remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. Check our online time management resources for more information on strategies, schedule templates and tools to try out!

Photo courtesy of Fabiola Medeiros under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.