The first step to managing your time is knowing how much you must do and how much you can do.
Begin by figuring the number of hours you will be spending in class and studying. You need to plan for 2 to 3 hours of study for each credit hour. For example, if you are taking 15 credits this semester, figure 15 hours in class and 30 to 45 hours per week studying. That adds up to 45 to 60 hours per week devoted to school.
If you are working, you will likely want to take fewer credits. It often helps to chart out your weekly schedule, starting with the firm commitments you have.
When you have done this, if there aren't enough hours in the week for school, studying, sleeping, eating and some personal time, you'll need to make some adjustments. Re-think your schedule and look for ways to reduce your load. But be careful not to take time away from those things that keep you healthy (sleep, meals, exercise), or you could find yourself wasting more time than you save.
Get yourself organized
- Use a Weekly Planner. Find one that allows you to see the entire week at once. Before the week begins, schedule in the times you know you'll need. Keep adding to it as the week goes on and make adjustments where needed.
- Use a Semester Schedule. Seeing the year or semester as a whole lets you stay aware of due dates, deadlines and overlapping projects. You may wish to use one of the poster-size calendars available at stationery or office supply stores.
- Use a daily To Do List. Start your list the night before, and update as the day goes on. This helps you prioritize your day and reminds you of tasks you want to get done each day.
Finding hidden study times
Once you have your schedule organized, you may feel you aren't finding enough time to study. Here are some places you can look for more study time:
- Do you ride public transportation? Plan to use the time. Longer commutes can be used for reading or studying notes. Short hops work well for quick reviews.
- Will you be waiting in a line somewhere? Whip out the flash cards, or review notes you have put on 3x5 cards.
- Do you have a doctor's appointment? You'll likely be sitting in the waiting room or exam room a while. Be prepared with study materials.
- Are you sitting in the laundromat waiting for your clothes to finish?
- Will you be driving any distance? Use a review tape you make or a lecture tape.
Consider the place and time frame and have index cards, review notes, textbooks, flashcards, tape and tape player, or other appropriate material ready. You'll not only get more studying done, you'll feel less frustrated while you wait.
Check up on yourself
Be sure to review your schedule frequently. Check to see if you are actually following your schedule. If not, why? Do you need to make adjustments? If you are following the schedule, is it working for you? Do you feel you're getting the most you can out of your study times? If you aren't, do you need to study at a different time-or place? Be willing to update your schedule as needed. Being too rigid is also a waste of time!