There are only 168 hours in a week. Get the most out of them by being aware of how you're using them:
Set goal hours on the survey. Keep track of how you are actually using your time for the next week. When the week is up, add up your time use to complete the actual side of the time survey.
- Find a Long Term Planner – Try finding a calendar app to sync and update from anywhere. As a student, you have access to Outlook Calendar through VandalMail, but there are many others, such as Google Calendar and iCal and most smart phones come with a built in calendar. If you prefer paper, most stores carry several long term planner options.
- Enter Each Commitment into Planner – Every time you get a new test date, job interview or party invite, enter that into your planner as soon as possible. Most calendar apps allow you to set reminders so these don't sneak up on you. You can even enter recurring events once and have the calendar fill in the rest for you.
- Look at Your Syllabus and Enter Assignment Dates into a Planner – Your syllabus probably tells you when assignments are due. Put the dates in your planner and set reminders well ahead of time. This way, you'll never be surprised by an upcoming test, paper, or project.
- Create Routines – Go ahead and schedule in time to do homework, exercise, eat, hang out with friends and sleep. Putting these things in a routine throughout the year can help you stick to a schedule and ultimately perform better at school.
When a professor assigns that big project, how do you know how much time it's going to take or when you should get started? Break the project into more manageable and tangible tasks and create a time line.
A research project and presentation might have the following steps:
- Pick topic
- Outline paper
- Write sections of the paper (first half, second half, "x" number of pages)
- Final formatting
- Make PowerPoint
- Practice presentation
Start with the last step and set a due date for yourself. It should be before the due date of the project itself. Decide how much time you will need to complete that step and set a start date that is about that far ahead of your due date. Repeat this process by going backward through the steps. For example:
Your presentation is due Thursday and you would like to spend about half an hour on three different days rehearsing your presentation. So, you would rehearse the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before.
This means you need your PowerPoint done before Monday. You think you can probably get it done in a few hours, but you're really busy on Sundays so you plan to do it on Saturday.
By the time you get up to step one, you'll have a reasonable start date for your project, a solid idea of how much work it's going to take, and a plan to get it done.
Write Things Down As Soon As Possible.
Either enter new tasks and due dates into your planner as soon as possible or write them down somewhere so you have the information when you sit down to update your planner later. Never just assume you will remember.
Use It For Personal Reminders.
When we get busy, it's easy to for get the little things, especially non routine stuff. Add things like pick up stamps, call maintenance about leaky faucet and email family about vacation plans.
Due Dates are Not Enough. Pick Work Dates Too.
You put that big Wednesday test in your planner. You look at your planner on Wednesday and see it, but now it's too late to study. Look ahead and find some convenient days to write "study for test" in your planner or set a reminder for a week in advance so you know to start studying.
Look at your planner at least twice a day.
Look at the beginning of your day so you can prepare for everything you need to do.
Look at the end of the day to make sure you haven't forgotten anything and are ready for the next day.
A master schedule gives you a picture of your average week. You can use it easily see when you are busy or free. It's excellent for looking ahead to plan for homework, studying, free time, relaxing, and all your hobbies.
How to make one:
- Find a calendar that shows a whole week. This could be a calendar app (check out the long term planning section above for ideas), a marker board, a worksheet in Excel or you can download our master schedule template (PDF).
- Block out all of the things you have to go to each week: class schedules, work schedules, regularly scheduled practices, etc. ...
- Working around those things, find times to schedule studying.
- Use the left over spaces for the stuff you want to do. Give yourself free time, relaxation time, hobby time and gym time — any kind of time you want. Just don't forget you also need to eat and sleep.
- Leave blank space. Don't schedule every minute of your time. Leave space open and unscheduled so you can be flexible.