Time is valuable. It's a precious, finite resource you must learn to balance and use wisely. Each day delivers the same 24-hour window in which to make the most of life’s demands: family commitments, work, school, social activities, to-do lists, and yes, sleep. So instead of counting the minutes make every minute count. Follow these simple time management tips to ensure that you are well prepared and set up for success in your studies.
1. Make a plan and set realistic goals.
Busy schedules and ever-present distractions can prevent you from checking tasks off your academic to-do list, so be sure to plan ahead. Set aside specific hours for school work, and give yourself the space to accomplish mini goals.
Schedule tasks. Consider creating a calendar to schedule activities and plan your tasks. Highlight due dates for writing assignments ― from initial drafts through final submission. Make note of any scheduled connections, such as Zoom meetings - potentially for study groups - or virtual office hours with professors and advisors.
You should also be mindful to set aside time for yourself, which can include moments for self-care, fun activities and time with family and friends. Find the little moments to renew your energy so you’re not just moving from task to task.
Stay realistic. It’s important to set attainable goals for yourself. Big assignments require a lot of focused time and energy. When you factor in your other work-life responsibilities, you can start to feel overwhelmed or burnt out. That’s why it's helpful to organize priorities and think about what is reasonable and attainable. Setting realistic goals for yourself is the first step toward accomplishing them.
Find a schedule or system to use that works for you. It can be a note, memo on your phone, list on your computer or calendar on your fridge. It needs to be visible and easy to follow.
Monique Hebert, a film and media studies student from Washington, recommends setting small goals throughout the week to stay on track and complete assignments without being overwhelmed.
“Learning to juggle things is always going to be difficult, but setting aside time goes such a long way,” she said, adding that she utilizes a planner to map her schedule out.
2. Commit to daily check-ins.
Technology makes our lives easier. It provides 24/7 access to learning, reminders, communication and resources for academic and social needs. It’s easier than ever to check-in and stay on track. Be sure to set a daily reminder on your phone to log in to your student email or online discussion threads to stay current with your schoolwork. Daily check-ins create a more manageable workflow and prepare you for upcoming assignments and discussions, so you’re not caught off guard if there’s a change in the syllabus or scope of a project.
3. Set (and celebrate) mini milestones.
The main goal is clear: Earn your degree. But a lot happens along the way. Setting mini milestones, and having mini celebrations, should be part of the process. These smaller, short-term goals can be anything from achieving an uninterrupted study session to writing the first few pages of a paper.
Vicki Sheerin, an ASU Online student from central Florida, uses this system to achieve consistent success in her health sciences program.
“You have large goals and things you want to accomplish, but you can’t do it all at once,” she said. “You have to do it in small chunks. Having a system, keeping up with it, and being consistent in what has to be done makes things easier. I feel so proud of myself for [having] this system of organization.”
There’s power in celebrating progress, and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish when there’s a reward to validate your hard work. Remember, all your little successes get you closer to the big reward: graduation.