Time Management: Getting Organized

Time management is a strong predictor of grades. Time management means not only having a daily "to-do" list but also knowing what you need to do in the next four weeks.
To manage your time, you will probably need an academic planner/calendar (order one here or here). Without a planner/calendar, you will probably be constantly falling behind because you will (a) tend to greatly underestimate how long things will take, (b) put off things that are important but not due immediately, (c) devote all your energy to the things that are due immediately for one class while not doing the work you should be doing for all your other classes, and (d) forget (at least temporarily) test dates and assignment due dates.
To make good use of your planner,
  1. Immediately fill it in with information from your syllabi. Moving tasks from your syllabus or from your memory to a to-do list will greatly boost your productivity--and moving information from a to-do list to your calendar will provide another big boost to your productivity.
  2. Break down big projects into smaller tasks and set self-imposed deadlines for those smaller tasks. Realize, for example, that "writing a paper" involves more than sitting down and writing a paper. You will probably need to find sources, read those sources, take notes on those sources, add those sources to your bibliography/references list, outline the paper, write several drafts of your paper, and proof your final draft.
  3. Schedule little tasks (like going over flashcards) for breaks between classes so that gaps between classes aren't wasted.
  4. Create a study schedule and treat it as seriously as you treat your work schedule and your class schedule.
  5. Because studying is less effective when you are tired, don't schedule studying for times when you are typically tired (usually, late at night) and be sure to schedule in study breaks/li>
  6. Your schedule should include more time for reviewing your text than for reading your text.

You will enjoy using a planner and the apps below if you are high in conscientiousness, but you will really need to use a planner or the apps below if you are low in conscientiousness.
If you don't know your level of conscientiousness, you can finding out by taking this test.

Instead of--or in addition to a planner--you may wish to use one of the apps below:

  • Understand the law of diminishing returns: It is important to socialize with friends. However, most days, you and your friends get the most benefits from the first hour you spend hanging out together. The second hour provides fewer benefits than the first, and the the third provides still fewer benefits. By leaving your friends after an hour to go study rather than hanging out with them all night, you still maintain connection with them (indeed,your connection might improve given that research suggests people wish their conversations with others were shorter), and you can get more school work done. In addition, you will be more able to free up time to be with friends when they really need you.
  • Apply the Premack principle: Reward yourself for studying by doing things you like to do (e.g., socializing, watching movies) after you have studied.

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