By Stacia Rosen and Terra Kneeland, Academic Success Coaches
Life is hectic and crazy. That’s a fact. At first glance, schoolwork can seem like a daunting and overwhelming task. Between family, work, children, and school, it’s a juggling act trying to keep everything in the air. We know what you’re thinking. Ain’t nobody got time for that! But, with proper time management skills and realistic expectations, it can be done! Try these helpful tips to keep you on track and the gate keeper of your time!
Create a Trimester At-a-Glance Calendar
Developing a calendar that lays out the entire trimester can be extremely helpful and can provide a visual for what your next 15 weeks will look like. At the start of each term, refer to your syllabi for due dates for all assignments: discussion boards, readings, quizzes, exams, papers, etc. In addition to your coursework, also be sure to include your outside obligations such as doctor’s appointments, family get togethers, vacations, etc. Including all assignments and activities will allow for advanced planning in your courses.
Create a Weekly Calendar
In addition to a trimester calendar, completing a weekly calendar will assist you in budgeting your time appropriately. Get detailed! Start by adding in what you know. If you work out every morning from 5:00 am to 6:00 am, add it to your calendar! If you know your kids have soccer practice on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm, add it to your calendar! By including what you know is already scheduled, you can see what time you REALLY do have available to work on your courses. We also recommend setting time aside each day to log into your courses.
Make a Daily To-Do List
Now that you are able to see what your trimester and week will look like, the next step is to generate a daily to-do list. Prioritizing your daily tasks is key! What HAS to get done today? Any high priority items should be moved to the top of your list. Start by checking your due dates. Decide what is urgent and what is important. Figure out how long each item will take. Then, move on to see which items may take an hour or less. This is a quick way to narrow down your list. Lastly, determine when you will do each item during that day. Low priority items can be shifted to the bottom. Your list should include items that can be completed during a single designated work time, such as an hour. Be sure to allot yourself enough time to work on your different tasks. Be realistic with your time. Use your trimester and weekly calendars to help guide your daily to do list. Check out this app, todoist.com, for help starting a to-do list.
Set Realistic Expectations
You work full-time, you coach your son’s soccer team, your daughter has softball practice three times a week, you are on the neighborhood HOA committee and you want to take a full-time course load. Be honest and ask yourself, “Is this realistic?” Everyone wants to reach graduation as quickly as possible, but we would rather see you be successful in your courses instead of overwhelmed and mediocre. For every credit hour you register for, anticipate spending between 2-3 hours per week on coursework. Now, calculate how many hours your other responsibilities take up and remember to add time to sleep! It may or may not be possible to take a full class load and still accomplish everything else. Don’t feel like you need to take a full course load either. Less is more! Take less courses, but spend more time working on each course in order to earn better grades and better understand the course material. Being realistic about your schedule ahead of time will make planning your trimester a much easier task and will allow you to succeed in your courses!
Schedule Time for Yourself
Remember that a happy and healthy you is very important to being a successful student! So, make sure you take some time for yourself when planning your schedule. We all have experienced ‘burn out’ at some point or another in our lives. We know that when we feel burnt out, we do not accomplish our best work or sometimes any work at all. To help prevent this feeling, schedule a day or an afternoon with no schoolwork. It’s up to you to find what time works best to schedule time for yourself; there is no wrong time to take care of YOU!
Plan a Catch-Up Day
You have your whole week planned out down to the last minute. Great! Now, welcome this little thing called life into the picture! We can make a schedule and have every intention set on following it to a tee, but sometimes life doesn’t work like that. Your child gets sick and you spend an afternoon at the doctor’s office, your car breaks down and you spend the afternoon at the auto shop, your dog literally eats your homework and you now have a vet visit and a trip to the store to buy a new computer. The unexpected can and should be expected!
If you have the time, schedule a whole day or afternoon to catch-up; if you don’t, find your lightest workload day and use it as your catch-up day. You’ll find that some weeks you need that time while in other weeks you can use it to get ahead! It’s all about balance.
Reach Out for Help
Last, but certainly not least, know that we are here for you. If you find yourself drawing a blank as to where to even start, reach out! We love to assist students with any additional support that may be needed. Along with time management skills, your Academic Success Coach can assist you with test taking strategies, goal setting, and study tips! We can also provide guidance to access other beneficial resources on campus such as the Writing Center, tutoring, and our Student Care Manager.
Now that you are a savant of your time, put it to use! Time management: everyone got time for that! We hope you found these tips beneficial and worth your time.