3 Tools to Manage Your Time as a Student
We’ve all been there. 11 PM in the evening and we wonder what time-sucking parasite took away our day. As I sit in front of my laptop now, I can think back to times in my freshman year of college when it felt like there just weren’t enough hours in the day. I would come home at 9 or 9:30 from work exhausted, only to remember I have a half-finished paper due the next morning.
Through trial and error, I discovered an improved way of doing things. Granted, I am still busy. But now I can focus on tasks that move me forward in both my school and career goals.
Tasks tend to divide themselves into two camps in my experience; “effective” tasks and “busy” tasks. The trick is learning how to discern between the two. Checking email tends to be a busy form of work but lacks in effectiveness. They tend to occupy time and make us feel like we are accomplishing tasks when time could be best spent elsewhere. Rather than responding to emails as they arrive in your inbox, set times in the day when email will be checked and responded to.
Checking Snap, Instagram or Facebook falls under the busyness category. In general, using these apps in the most crucial hours of the day are very time expensive. Social media becomes a nervous tick of sorts. Bored? Refresh Instagram feed. Stuck on a paragraph in an English mid term paper? Check Snap. Each one derails the natural mental flow of tasks, and over time reduces effectiveness considerably. Getting my social media habits under control has been a large boost to my productivity.
There have been three tools that have been a staple of my time management:
Old-Fashioned Ring Bound Planner – these can be bought off of Amazon right now for anywhere from $8 to $20. One I would recommend is found here. Purchase one that will fit easily in the front bag of your backpack and has lines for each individual day of the week. I label sub categories under each day for each subject. I have found this is the easiest and fastest way of writing down tasks. Plus, the act of physically crossing off tasks is satisfying.
Printable Monthly Calendar – Many websites provide large, printable calendar templates. A free option I use can be found here. Getting a macro view of your schedule is difficult with the daily planners, so this is such a cheap but effective fix. I write down all my tasks for the month and review it once or twice a week. Perfect for staying ahead of the game with project deadlines or shifts at work.
iPhone or Google Calendar – The primary advantage apps have over paper planners is the ability to notify you when a task or event is due. 24 hours before a major task is due, I set an alert as an emergency backup. When used in conjunction with the daily planner and printable calendar, it completes a system that allows the user full control over their schedule. Takes a little practice to handle all three at the same time, but it is worth the effort.
Time will never be prevalent in college, especially if you work and have a social life. But with a little effort and planning, your time can feel managed rather than chaotic.