Managing Time Out of the Classroom

College is a challenging time in the life of people – one when they have to learn how to manage a lot of responsibilities above all other things. Between classes and study groups, you may feel as if there is never enough time in the day to do everything you like to do and your hobbies can start suffering as a consequence. If you’ve just recently graduated from high school, you are probably used to spending the majority of your day in class, so going from seven hour school days to a couple of classes that take up a few hours can leave you with a lot of free time on your hands. Unlike high school where most of the work is done in class, in college most of the work is done outside of class. Therefore, that free time isn’t necessarily free, and it’s important that you learn how to manage it properly.

The easiest way to learn how to manage your time is by analysing how you use it in the first place. Keeping a daily diary is a good way to figure out just what you’re filling your days with. Keep track of your weekly schedule and take notes. A pattern will soon begin to emerge. Write it down. After a few days of consistent tracking you should have a realistic picture of where your time is going towards. You may realize the reason you are struggling to finish your school work done is due to too much surfing online or time spent outside with your peers.

Learning how to manage your time by organizing it is a skill like any other and it takes patience and practice to master it. Spend some time at the beginning of each week, thinking about how you can distribute your tasks throughout it in the most efficient way. Balance your schedule by trying to spend an equal amount of time on academics, personal and social activities, and, of course, rest. While some weeks will require more time spent on academics, having a good balance between your school and personal life will help you not stress out. Make a list of all the things, both academic and personal, that you hope to accomplish by the end of the week. Time management is about making a plan and sticking to it, and following a set plan for every day will help you feel more motivated to complete everything you have scheduled.

Making a to-do list every day will help you learn how to prioritize. Place the most important tasks at the top, even if they’re things you dislike, and get them out of the way early on when you’re rested and full of energy. Include things you enjoy doing towards the end of the list, so you have something to look forward to that will keep you motivated to finish the initial tasks.

It’s a smart move to spend some time observing yourself and determine what your most productive time is. This will help you re-distribute your college-related and personal activities in a way that doesn’t waste your resources. Ideally, you want to study and do your research when you’re in top shape and alert and leave personal errands for when you’re feeling mellow. Always leave your most important work for when you’re at your best – this gives you decided advantage.

Avoid getting sidetracked by referring to your to-do list and getting back to what you’re supposed to be doing. There are many mobile applications that allow synchronization of your calendar, schedule and notes, so you always stay on top of your time even while on the move. Procrastination usually begins when we’re in between tasks and unsure how to move from the previous to the next one.

Generally time management must be based on a system of goals and priorities in order to be effective. We always find time for the things we consider important to us and delegate the ones we feel can wait. A good balance of work, school, social time and private time is crucial to spreading out tasks throughout the day and week in an efficient manner and getting the most of your allotted time.

Finding yourself with more free time than you have planned for can lead to breaking the established routine. It might be a good idea to consider volunteering as it can bring you many benefits. You can choose a field you’re interested in and giving back to your community feels wonderful. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities and this type of experiences are, by far, the best way to join a network of like-minded individuals and form long-lasting friendships that can enrich your life. Additionally you can also build your reputation and gain invaluable life experience.

Last, but not least, part of learning to manage you time out of the classroom is about getting enough rest. When you pace yourself you’re able to make the most of your time and utilize your energy in the most efficient way. Sometimes a break can keep you from exhausting yourself, so learn to stop and enjoy some quiet time to unwind.