Each month, we look at some real life skills. This month, we focus on time management.  Do you struggle with procrastinating?  Do you get stressed out trying to fit everything in?  Here are some ideas to help you learn to better manage your time.

How do you spend your time?  Think about the past few days.  How have you spent your time?  Think of time as money.  You have 24 hours each day.  How are you investing them?  As a college student your priority is your classes and your study time.  How do you balance this with recreation, personal time, meeting with friends, Facebook, meetings, etc?

The key to time management is planning, both long term and short term.  What do you have to do and how will you accomplish it?  Many students today use their phones and their tablets/computer calendars and task lists to keep them on target.  Others use notepads.  But whatever you choose, planning is essential.

LONG TERM:

Start Out Right.  (And no–it is not too late to start now!)  At the beginning of the school year, write down all of your important dates: tests, project deadlines, and when your assignments are due.  You might also include vacation times and alerts for getting plane tickets or other arrangements, birthdays you don’t want to forget, games you want to attend, etc.  Keep it somewhere so that you can see it every day.  There are great apps to help with this.  Set an alarm to go off if you need a reminder.  Knowing what needs to get done will help you to stay on top of everything and not miss deadlines.

SHORT TERM:

Make a list.  Take a few minutes each night to write down what you need to accomplish the next day.  In the morning, look over your list and plan how you will get things done.  As you finish an item on your list, check it off.  The feeling of satisfaction you get from accomplishing tasks will help you to keep going.

Prioritize.  When you look at your list decide what is most important.  Maybe it’s a homework assignment that is due that night or studying for a test that you have tomorrow.  Those items are what you need to do first and spend the most time on.  Learning to prioritize will help you in you career as well.  When you have a lot of work to do, it’s good to know how to determine what needs to get done right away and what can wait until you have more time.

Break it down.  If you have a huge project to work on, don’t wait until the night before to do all the work.  When you are given the assignment, sit down and break it into manageable pieces.  Then set aside a few blocks of time to work on each of the pieces.  This will give you the time to make sure the project is done right and finished in time.

Don’t overload.  This goes hand-in-hand with prioritizing.  Know what is important to you and to accomplishing your goals.  On campus, you may have the opportunity to get involved with a lot of different things.  Make sure you leave time for what is important to you.  Learn to say no so that you don’t take on too much.

Make time for yourself.  Oftentimes people tend to get so busy that they don’t take time to rest.  It may seem like a waste of time but it is essential to your health and state of mind!  Schedule a little break to stretch or play a quick game during your study time.  Schedule a bigger block of time or even a whole day to have fun each week.  Finish what you need to get done before that time so that you don’t have to worry about it.

Learning to manage your time will help you to get more done and will help you to manage stress better.  What are some of the ways you have learned to manage your time?  Visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/sigmaalphalambda and share your ideas with us!