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The first day of the new term can feel a little like New Year’s Eve. It marks the beginning of another school year and an opportunity to set personal and academic resolutions. For example, you might promise yourself that you’ll develop better study habits, or improve your class attendance. No matter what goals you want to set for the academic year, there is one secret to achieving them: time management.
If you missed our previous post “Straddling Work, School and Play: Student Perspectives”, take a look at the #YUBlog’s time management tips based on the Time Management Workshop offered by Learning Skills Services (LSS). Learning Skills Services supports students’ academic success by providing resources to develop strong study habits. Students can take part in workshops, peer academic coaching, one-to-one sessions with a Learning Skills Specialist and drop-in appointments. For a list of all workshops being offered this term and to register, visit the LSS website.
Understand How You Spend Your Time
The key to successful time management is to understand exactly what it means to “manage” your time. In spite of what you might think, time management is not about scheduling every second of our lives. It’s a tool to help us set goals and create workable plans while achieving work-life balance. Another important thing to remember: what works for another person may not work for you. If all of your friends use agendas and to-do lists for organization but only an online calendar works for you, stick with it! Time management is meant to be personalized, and after trying a few different organizational methods, you’ll find a strategy that works.
Successful time management comes down to knowing how you spend your days. Let’s do the math: there are 24 hours in a day; 168 hours in a week; and 2,016 hours in a 12-week term. During the LSS Time Management Workshop, students tabulate how they spend their week. The graphic below represents the average student’s weekly commitments. It should be noted that the graphic is based on a 15-hour course load and does not account for full-time or part-time work or extracurricular activities. When you make your own time sheet, you can personalize it according to your schedule.
If you know how you spend the majority of your time, you can identify ways to work more effectively. For example, if you find that you’re spending too much time standing in line for lunch, consider bringing snacks from home to save 15 minutes each day. You’ll save over an hour per week! If you multitask and do some of your readings during your commute, you can save up to 10 hours a week.
Use a Planning Tool
Another tip for managing your time effectively is to use a planning tool. Whether you use an agenda, your cellphone or an online calendar, writing down your due dates and commitments will help you stay on-task. Hint: if your schedule is digital, subscribe to the Fall/Winter 2017-2018 Important Dates calendar to sync York U’s academic and financial deadlines across your devices.
There are many different kinds of planning tools, including daily to-do lists, weekly agendas and term-long calendars. You may benefit from using a combination of these methods to stay organized. For example, you might want to stick a giant term calendar to your wall with all of your important due dates and make sure you’re working towards these timelines with daily schedules.
For free time management templates, check the Learning Skills Services website.
Managing your time effectively means that you have to differentiate between what is important and what is urgent. When your professor hands out the syllabus with assignment due dates at the beginning of the term, it’s a good idea to put them in your calendar all at once so that you can allot enough time to complete each project. The earlier you start, the shorter your daily study sessions can be. In order to prioritize your work, try to differentiate whether a new project is an immediate task or one that you can work on gradually. By prioritizing, you can complete your tasks more efficiently and avoid procrastination.
It’s important for students to learn work-life balance: taking study breaks to take care of yourself will make you more productive. However, make sure that you rest at set intervals. Don’t take a Netflix break before you’ve completed your work, because we all know how easily one episode can turn into four! If you struggle to set time limits, consider installing programs or browser extensions that temporarily limit your access to time-wasting websites.
Stay Positive & Healthy
Stay positive and healthy by balancing your academic life with health and wellness activities. Studying from 9am to 3am the next morning is unsustainable and ineffective. Excellent time management includes a good night’s rest, exercise and time off to have fun with your friends. If you’re looking for ways to add healthy, enjoyable breaks to your study schedule and relieve stress, consider joining a drop-in fitness class at the Tait McKenzie Centre or the Healthy Student Initiative’s free Mindfulness Meditation sessions.
Remember, time management is meant to reduce stress, not induce it. By using our time management tips, you can create time to relax and rejuvenate both physically and mentally.
If you have any questions about time management, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet @YorkUStudents with the #YUBLOG. If you want to learn more about managing your time, attend a LSS Time Management Workshop.
Note: This post is based on previous posts by Garima Jindal and Sam Elsley and was updated on August 28, 2017.