We’ve probably all been there at one point or another – it’s 11:31 on a Sunday night and a paper assigned in your least favorite class is due the next morning in exactly 9 hours, 29 minutes.
You had the whole weekend to finish the assignment, but assured yourself with each passing hour that you had plenty of time to do it. There was always something more important grabbing your attention. You had to work. A meeting was held that you couldn’t miss. Your niece insisted that you stayed to watch the whole fairy princess movie series rather than just the one movie you initially agreed to.
I get it.
Balancing a heavy load of college coursework can be a challenging feat to undertake. Add working a job, staying true to familial commitments, or parenting to the mix, and falling victim to undesirable stress may be virtually inevitable.
While it may not be possible to eliminate the obligations that take time away from your studies, there are multiple tools available to help reduce the stress these circumstances cause – one of which being the ability to manage time: a useful strategy meant to help you evade “night-before cramming.”
Time management is a favorite stress-reducing tool of mine for the sheer purpose that it is not an avoidance strategy, but a prevention strategy. Committing to managing one’s time is unique in the sense that it tackles potential stress by way of intercepting it, rather than waiting until after the fact.
Here are my, personally tested and frequently used, tips on how to manage time in college:
The Busy Student’s Guide to Time Management
1.) Compile Important Dates
To begin, mark down any important upcoming semester dates into a calendar.
- Look through your syllabi to list tentative test, quiz, and project due dates
- Mark down the dates of your midterms and finals as soon as you are made
aware of them
- Make note of any personal dates. Important family events and commitments
should be taken into consideration
2.) Take Inventory of Current Assignments and Ongoing Commitments
List all assigned coursework, as well as their due date (or prospective due date).
- Make note of which professors assign homework on a regular cycle. Use this
information to gauge a how you will incorporate that pattern into a schedule.
- Figure out your non-school related commitments. Keep certain questions
in mind such as:
- What days do you work, and until what time?
- Do you have weekly meetings for work?
- Are there any days that your kids need to be taken anywhere after school?
- What day do you normally go grocery shopping?
3.) Create Schedules
Once you are aware of all important dates and have a general idea of what you need to get done within a typical week, you can begin to lay out prospective schedules.
- Long-term: Allocate specific amounts of time per week to work on sizeable,
- If you are aware of a challenging project due within the next month, designate
- between 1 and 2 hours each day to work on it.
- If you are aware that your midterm is scheduled for 2 months into the semester,
- designate a particular amount of time each day/few days to review past material
- - Short-term: Allocate specific amounts of time throughout the day to work on
- small, fleeting assignments. Make weekly and daily schedules.
- At the beginning of each week, establish what short-term goals must be
- At the end of each night, establish, review, or edit the short-term goals that you
- plan to accomplish the next day.
4.) Allow Yourself to Rest
Always allot time in your schedule for periods of relaxation. Space things out so that you are not spreading yourself too thin within a short period of time. Give yourself 5 – 10 minute breaks between assignments, and at least one long break each day to do something you enjoy. At the end of the day, your mental state is the most important factor to consider over all else. Managing time, if done wisely, has the potential to save students a significant amount of “night before cramming” stress, but if taken overboard, may burn a student out before they’re able to receive any benefit. Listen to your body. Understand what you can and cannot handle, and always stay true to your individual abilities.
From one student to another, good luck in all your academic endeavors.
Eden Shaveet is a Gateway to College student from Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, Massachusetts. She is an LAS major looking to pursue further degrees in psychology and neuroscience, and currently works as a Student Leader in Civic Engagement out of MWCC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement.