Background Information on Time Management
There is no mystery about managing time. Everyone has 24 hours each day and 168 hours each week to eat, sleep, work, relax, exercise, attend class, and study. There is nothing magical about getting the most from these hours; it just takes planning. But time management does require self-discipline and control until the behavioral changes are internalized and time management becomes an everyday habit. Plans and schedules for managing time are useless if one does not follow them.
Effective time management necessitates a sense of balance. Either extreme along the time management skills continuum can be problematic. On one hand, perfect time management skills do not make one a perfect student or employee. It is possible to excess about time, such that one is so wrapped up in the minutiae of details that meaningful tasks are not accomplished. On the other hand, poor time management skills do not make one a stooge. Some brilliant people habitually are "a day late and a dollar short."
Then why bother with time management? The main reason for managing time is to provide structure to one's life and, in turn, piece of mind. Managing time is just something one does for one's own psyche, to make one's days easier.
Unlike high school, college requires that students spend much more time studying outside of class. In high school, many students could get away with two-hour test preparation sessions or with writing a research paper in an hour or two. Not so in college. The rule-of-thumb in college is to spend two hours each week studying for every one hour in class. For example, if a class meets three hours a week, plan to spend six hours studying that subject each week. If a student has 15 hours of class each week, he/she should spend at least 30 hours studying each week. Indeed, going to school is like having a job!
As a final note, it is important to remember that simply setting aside time to study will not insure that students will do well academically. It is just as important to make efficient use of that study time by using effective study strategies like the ones described in other pages in the General-Purpose Learning Strategies main stack. For example, setting aside three hours to read a chapter is a waste of time if one doesn't understand or remember what one has read. Similarly, spending ten hours simply reading over notes in order to prepare for an exam is probably not going to land an "A." In short, doing well in school depends on setting aside time to study and using that time effectively.
Purposes of Time Management Strategies
Time management strategies fulfill a number of functions. One purpose is to plan activities and schedule time for completing them. The strategies help one to predict when one will be most busy so that plans to get things done may be made ahead of time. A second purpose is to help people become more punctual. Time management strategies also aid in remembering obligations such as meetings, appointments, and special events.
Advantages of Time Management Strategies
One advantage of time management strategies is that they don't take much time to implement! For example, semester planners for students can be completed in about an hour, and weekly grids in only 15 minutes. It only takes about10 minutes each week to keep schedules up to date, making additions and revisions. In addition, the strategies are very easy to use and require little instruction from facilitators.
As time management skills improve, people tend to experience fewer stressful situations resulting from procrastination and/or overextending (trying to do too many activities). Time management strategies give people a sense of control over their lives.
Time management strategies also serve as a useful memory aid, reminding one of obligations that must be met at certain times in the day or week or month. They help to organize certain aspects of one's life as well.
Specific Time Management Strategies
The following strategies for improving one's time management skills are discussed in this section.