10 Tips to Get Your Work Done on Time
September 4, 2015
If time management was a college course, would you be failing, just barely getting by, or kicking back and enjoying your A+? If you’ve already mastered time management, then this advice should be nothing new. For the rest of you, we’ve compiled some helpful hints for staying on top of your crazy college schedule and getting off to a good start in your new classes!
- Go through your course calendars and syllabi immediately. After your first day of class, your life will only get busier! So, as soon you have them, add every due date to your calendar and focus on getting organized from day one.
- Review your schedule weekly. Look at your calendar for the next two weeks to see what’s due on each day and what big projects are coming up so you don’t get caught off guard. “Respect every deadline,” advises faculty member Joowon Kim at The Art Institute of Houston, as deadlines will rarely be open for debate.
- Break down big projects into smaller tasks. Then, set completion dates for each one so that you can continually make progress and stay on schedule with your project. Be sure to add in time for unexpected challenges or a heavy workload in other courses. It’s better to end up with free time, than to be working down to the very last minute!
- Make checklists. Keep a running list of your tasks on your computer or on colorful sticky notes near your desk (where you’ll always see it). When it comes to ordering your lists, Kim recommends, “Figure out your priorities. Then, do the most important first.” Review your lists briefly at the start and end of each day.
- Write everything down. Think you can count on yourself to remember? Don’t risk it. Take a note on your phone, computer, or an old-fashioned piece of paper. When you get a chance, add the item to your checklist or put it on the calendar if it’s associated with a particular date. If it’s not actionable right now, file it away in a place when you can easily find it when you need it again.
- Don’t skip class. There’s a lot that is covered every time your class meets, so the more you miss class, the more behind and overwhelmed you’re likely to get!
- Focus on one task at a time. This one’s hard. Of course it’s tempting to check your email or your Instagram account, but you’ll get more done if you work in uninterrupted chunks of at least 30 minutes.
- Ask for help. “Resolve the bottleneck,” says Kim. Whether from your instructors, classmates, tutoring, or your academic advisers, you’ll find that many people are willing to provide you with guidance and support to help you figure out how to overcome obstacles and get more things done in less time.
- Know when you’re at your best. Whether you work better in the morning or at night, plan to do your most important or hardest tasks then. Save the easy stuff for the times when you won’t feel up to challenge of the problems that require your greatest creativity.
- Stop saying yes. It’s great to find a part-time job or get involved in a student organization while you’re in college. Eventually though you’ll realize that you can’t join every club, take all of the side projects that come your way, or even go out with your friends every night of the week. Every now and then, it’s smart to say no!
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