Academic Success: Time ManagementTime management is key to a successful academic career. Learning to manage your time wisely begins with building and sticking to a study schedule.
Building a study schedule
Step 1: Prepare a list of all class assignments for the semester.
- Get your course syllabi for the semester
- Create an assignment list for each course. Include readings, projects, papers, tests, test preparation time, etc.
- Break big and long-term assignments into small units. List each unit separately. For example, for a large paper:
- Develop topic
- Library search
- First draft
- Second draft
- Type final paper
- Estimate how long each activity will take and then double it. With practice, you will improve your ability to estimate the time required for long-term tasks.
- List dates when assignments (and small units) are to be completed. Work backward from the due date to estimate the amount of time required for each.
Step 2: Make a semester calendar.
- Get a Day Planner. This is an essential time management tool.
- Write in each item from step one.
- Include other commitments, e.g. trips, family events, doctor’s appointments, etc.
Step 3: Create a master weekly schedule for yourself.
- Begin by entering your class schedule.
- Then include all fixed weekly activities for this semester, e.g. sleeping, exercise/sports, work, family commitments, personal care/grooming, meal preparation/eating/clean-up, transportation, relaxing, socializing, etc.
- Plan your study time using the two-to-one ratio: two hours of study time for every hour in class. For example six hours in class requires 12 hours of study time each week.
- For lecture classes, use blocks of time immediately after class to keep material fresh in your mind.
- Allow for adequate sleep each night and time for eating a well-balanced diet.
- After living with your schedule for a while, make adjustments to create one that fits your personal style. This may be a detailed weekly, a simplified to-do list, or some combination.
Step 4: Make a to-do list.
- Get in the habit of making a to-do list every day, either before bedtime or in the early morning.
- Be specific — define exactly what you need to do.
- Break large tasks into small, manageable chunks.
- Be realistic about the amount of time necessary to complete each task.
- Determine a priority level for each task to be accomplished: (A) high, (B) moderate, and (C) low.
- List tasks in priority order.