This article was originally written for FirstGenerationStudent.com, now a part of ImFirst.org.
Six Steps Toward Effective Time Management
Know What You Have To Do
For some people, this includes making a daily list of activities, tasks and assignment due dates. You can keep an electronic planner on your computer or smartphone, or an old-fashioned day-planner notebook in which you would write by hand. However you choose to organize this, it’s important to keep track of everything that needs to be done.
Budget Your Time
Figure out how much time you need to do the things you usually do each week, such as going to school, playing a sport, participating in an activity, working at a job or babysitting your siblings. Try to make sure you’ve got enough time to complete these activities before you make other commitments. Be sure to make time for things you WANT to do as well—things like meeting a friend for ice cream, shooting hoops for a couple of hours or watching a favorite TV show—so that some relaxation and fun are budgeted into your schedule.
Bring Work With You
“It’s a good idea to have a special space and time wherein you know you can be productive.”
Think about the time you spend riding the bus or subway, waiting around before sporting events or waiting out the “down time” at your job. That’s time you could spend studying for quizzes, reviewing flashcards or doing small assignments. If you have your work with you, you’ll be able to break it out when you have spare moments. Some students, when studying for their SATs, actually keep a box of flashcards on the back of the toilet in the bathroom. Silly, perhaps—but since you spend approximately 15 minutes a day in the bathroom, there’s no reason it can’t be put to good use!
Create a Dedicated Study Time and Place
When are you most productive? Morning, afternoon or night? Where do you do your best work? Your kitchen table? Your bedroom? Take these factors into account in creating your dedicated study time and place. You can still do work on the fly, but it’s a good idea to have a special space and time wherein you know you can be productive. During your dedicated study time, try to only do your work—that means not checking e-mail, logging into Facebook or watching TV until you’re finished.
Tackle Problems Head-On
Trouble starting a project? Speak to a teacher or to a classmate who’s in the know. Struggling to juggle school activities and your job? Speak to your coach or supervising faculty member, and see if someone can help accommodate your schedule. Procrastinating, particularly when you’re stuck, only leads to bigger problems down the line. Know your limits, and ask for help when you’re struggling.
Above all, make sure you get as much rest as possible. You’re doing a lot of things—and you cannot possibly be at the top of your game when you’re exhausted. Set a deadline each night by which you must be in bed—and catch up on sleep on the weekend and holidays.