Time Management Tips
There is no doubt about it – professional schools and employers are looking for someone who stands out from the crowd. They are looking for someone who reached out to those in need in his or her community. They are looking for people who found mentors and built relationships through their own initiatives. They want a college graduate who was able to get out of his or her comfort zone through creating a new event for a student organization – or maybe even creating a new organization! In short, they want someone who has been so much more than a student – but a leader, volunteer, and mentor to others.
Yet aside from the pull of your top choice job or professional school, I am sure you too want to be more than just a student. Everyone has multiple aspects to his or her personalities and a variety of values. Honestly, the only way you are going to be able to fulfill your physical, mental, spiritual, and social needs along with your professional goals is to have stellar time management skills.
But how, at one of the top academically challenging institutions in the United States, can you succeed in the classroom while still having time for the causes and people you care about?
Having worked part time throughout college and having been accepted into professional school, I have a more than a few ideas to help you. I have learned a lot about time management, sometimes the hard way. I want to help you make the most out of your short time here at Illinois – sleep included!
First things first
I agree – it is so much easier to do simple online homework due in two weeks than your ten page paper due in three days. Still, having priorities is the number one thing that will keep you from burning out – starting in college and for the rest of your life. I know it sounds difficult, but to avoid procrastination read on!
Just get started
You will often find that you can avoid procrastination by saying to yourself you can at least put in 15 minutes on that assignment you have been dreading to start. You might just be surprised to find you will have created some momentum and want to keep going!
Break up assignments into pieces
Writing a paper or studying for an exam can seem overwhelming. That’s why I break it up into steps on a post-it note and then cross it off as I go over the course of a few days. For example, for a chemistry exam, my post-it list would include: review lecture notes, review readings, review quizzes, redo homework, make study guide, take practice exam 1, review it, take practice exam 2, review it, take practice exam 3, and review it. Oh so satisfying to cross it off!
Dangle a carrot in front of yourself!
When the going gets really rough, sometimes you need the promise of a YouTube video when you finish your chapter or practice exam. It works.
Keep social time and study time separate
I tend to study in quiet classrooms or obscure libraries around campus. With peace and quiet, I can be more effective and have more time for the things I want to do later. If I were around my friends, I would just want to talk to them all the time! I keep my social and school life separate and reap rewards both ways.
Write it down
I joke with people that my planner is my baby, but I am not joking. Every appointment, class, exam, assignment, meeting, even fun things to do go in my planner. Once you get to college there will be exponentially more time that is unscheduled BUT you will have plenty more things you need to get done during that time. The best way to keep on top of it is a planner. No need to worry you will forget something! The University of Illinois offers one that includes academic dates and reminders. And if you really want to go all out, order one that is hourly! I love mine! Can you tell?
Reward yourself for studying
Take tonight for example. It being Sunday, I knew I had a lot of catching up to do with my advanced physiology class. Who knew there was so much to learn on just the lungs? Yet my roommates and I planned to meet up for dinner at Panera Bread. Having that to look forward too made studying so much easier, and it definitely did the trick of breaking up my day.
Go to class!
This kind of goes without saying, but at times it can be tempting to skip when you have more pressing matters for another course or need to catch up on sleep. Don’t skip! Class is where you will figure out which parts of the material your professor thinks are the most important – AKA the things that will most likely be on your exam. Plus, it will take you more time to catch up then your hour of lecture would take!