Leaves are changing colors, pumpkin spice lattes are on the menus of coffee shops, and the air is starting to turn brisk – fall is here, and with it a new school year. As we head back to school, we must make that switch from lazy summer days to the world of early morning alarms, tests, and sports practices. Time is essential, and we all must make the best use of every single minute.
Here are some tips to improve our time management:
The (In)Famous “To-Do” List
We’ll start here, since this is one of the best strategies to improve your time management capabilities. Make a to-do list. Every day. Although this may sound time-consuming and unnecessary, writing out a list of everything you need to do helps to visualize your tasks, and makes them much more manageable. Put the most important (and time-sensitive) tasks on the top of the list. Each time you complete one of the items on your list, cross it off. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment each time you are able to slash through another task. And don’t worry if you don’t get to everything on your list (as long as they are not crucial and time-sensitive). Just start the next day’s list with those that you have rolled over. Don’t do this too often though! It’s a slippery slope to procrastination (which you will read about soon)…
Know When to Say “No”
We can only do so much. Know your limits and when you are overextending yourself. If you are up to item #20 in your daily to-do list, it is probably time to start scaling back. While it is good to be involved in school, everything must be done in moderation. Evaluate what is most important to you, and then decide what you can cut back on.
Review Your Notes Every Day
A few minutes each day reviewing your notes will come a long way when it is time to prepare for a test. Each day, spend a few minutes going over your notes. Many times when taking notes in class, we are more concerned with getting everything down than truly understanding the material. Going over the notes a second time will help make the material more memorable. Also, it will help identify potential confusions that you can look up yourself or ask about in class. Which brings up another tip – seek help as you go, not the day before the test. Don’t let it become overwhelming.
Eliminate those Sunday-evening blues. Instead of dreading going back to school that week, be optimistic and set yourself some goals for the week. Each day, set towards achieving those goals and evaluate your progress.
Travel With Your Work
Always have something on you – whether it is an upcoming assignment, class notes, or a study guide for an upcoming test. In our daily routines, we often find ourselves waiting. Waiting for the doctor, waiting for the dentist, waiting to start practice, waiting at the bus stop, waiting on the bus. Take advantage of this time to study for an upcoming test, read over that day’s class notes, or start outlining for that upcoming essay. It is amazing how much you can get down with that down time.
Don’t allow yourself to get unorganized – it is a huge time waster! Keep everything organized – your room, your notes, your backpack. It will make finding things so much easier, and will save time in every aspect of your life – especially when it comes to studying.
And Lastly …. Don’t Procrastinate
If there is something you can do today, do it today – don’t wait until tomorrow. When you procrastinate, you push everything to the last minute, leaving you with no time to complete all of your tasks. Furthermore, when you leave yourself with a limited deadline for getting things done, stress becomes a factor. And we are all less productive and efficient when we are stressed out. Setting a schedule, and sticking to it, is one of the most valuable tools you can use to manage your time.
If you are struggling with time management and need some help getting organized, contact a local tutoring center, which can help with subject tutoring and skill development.