The counseling team is here to help you learn to manage your time more efficiently. To get started, check out the tips below and don’t hesitate to discuss this further by scheduling an appointment with one of our counselors.

To explore the areas in your life that will help you achieve the balance you need for a successful student life experience try out our Balancing Student Life Exercise (available through your GPS path on AUP Engage).

Time Management Tips

TIP 1: USE A CALENDAR TO PLAN AHEAD.

How to make heavy weeks become clearer? how to avoid missing deadlines? How to stop feeling guilty when engaging in leisure activities instead of getting to your academic obligations?

Plan ahead. Using a calendar that allows you to plan ahead is crucial to manage a busy schedule. At the beginning of every semester, take a broad view of all your academic commitments such as assignment due dates and exam dates, class times and work shifts, and enter them into a physical or digital calendar. You can mark these using a color code that will allow you to quickly identify the type of task. Doing this will give you a clear visual of both open and busy times. It will be easier this way for you to identify time for leisure and other personal activities and engage in them without feeling worry or even guilt.

Here are our recommended physical calendars:

  • Weekly calendar [pdf]
  • Semester at glance pdf F2021 (better printing on format A3). Fill it out, paste it on your wall or door, and you’ll have a view of your whole semester at once!
TIP 2: SET DEADLINES AND GOALS.

Do you think deadlines are stressful? You feel you are more productive when playing catch-up?

Learning to see deadlines as allies can make a big difference in the way you tackle work. They provide a framework, promote action, drive priorities, promote accountability.

Good habits:

  • Plan your own personal deadline at a date that seems realistic and not too ambitious.
  • Split heavy assignments in chunks that seem manageable and attainable throughout your calendar.

Aiming to completing work before it’s due can help you 1) meet your deadline, 2) have a buffer if ever you were late at completing chunks as planned, 3) avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.

This is particularly important when working on written assignments. Good writing needs time for editing, and if the writing is done without leaving time for revisions, the work will suffer.

 

TIP 3: MAKE DAILY TO-DO LISTS.

How to feel like you know exactly what to do today? that you’re moving forward with your day’s work? or that you are accomplishing things?

Maybe you trust your memory for following with every day to-do things but maybe giving your memory a break and releasing it from that pressure by writing down a list of what needs to be accomplished each day can be a more productive way of getting things done.

Crossing off tasks once they are finished also provides a sense of relief and achievement which is a good way to encourage yourself to keep up with the work, especially the challenging one.

TIP 4: USE THE A-B-C METHOD TO PRIORITIZE.

Do you feel you know where to start? what to focus on first and next? do you have a system to decide that?

Set your priorities. You can try the A-B-C method which works like this:  write down all your pending tasks and then assign an A, B or C to each task:

A – must be completed today

B – would be nice to finish today

C – can be pushed to tomorrow if necessary

Now, life can determine that a C-level task becomes an A-level task at some point, or you could find yourself with a new pending task to add, so it’s OK to switch gears and update your list as well as your ranking.

TIP 5: NOTICE (AND DEAL WITH) PROCRASTINATION.

Do you feel like a hamster running in circles on a wheel? Stuck in a cycle of not doing what you need to do, feeling guilty and then doubtful and helpless?

Procrastination is a common enemy of time management. It can have disturbing effects on college students such as problems with sleep, but it often also leads to feelings of inadequacy, doubt, anxiety, and frustration. On top of that, not learning ways to stop procrastination while being a student can lead to carrying on this negative habit into future employment.

To tackle this problem, you can start by asking yourself this question:

Why am I avoiding the work?

You may tell yourself that the reason is because you don’t understand the assignment or the reading or maybe you can’t seem to find the time to do the work or simply don’t want to do it. In these cases, you could talk to the professor or other students and obtain clarity, you could even join a study group that encourages you to work, but you could also need to revisit your priorities.

Sometimes procrastination has to do with a deeper issue and you could try asking yourself these questions:

  • What is it that I am really trying to avoid by not completing the work?
  • When I think of the task, what are the specific feelings that come up?
  • Are my perfectionistic tendencies and anxiety causing the delay?
  • Am I avoiding any possible judgments from anyone? Whose judgments am I preventing?
  • What will be the consequence if I fail?

The better you understand why you are procrastinating the clearer it’ll be to you on how to tackle the problem. These may be difficult questions to answer on your own so don’t hesitate to chat with one of our counselors

TIP 6: WORK ON ONE PROJECT AT A TIME.

Do you see multitasking as a way to get more things done? But somehow you end up feeling frustrated or like heading nowhere?

Many articles and studies explain the risks of multitasking, concluding that this is not an efficient system for most people and that our ability to focus and the quality of our work do suffer when attempting to do several tasks at the same time. Instead, concentrated focus is the best way to learn and produce high level work.

Sticking to your priorities through your planner and to-do list can therefore make a difference. Choose to tackle one task at a time and you’ll find yourself being more efficient and feeling better about your work.

TIP 7: TAKE BREAKS AND WORK DURING OPTIMAL TIMES.

Do you tend to deprive yourself from breaks thinking this will help you finish a task, but somehow you still can’t manage to finish? Do you push yourself to get things done at night when you know you focus better in the morning?

Being consistent is important in achieving things but so is flexibility. Because deep focus is tiring, taking breaks when doing something that requires complete attention is necessary – especially when you notice a decrease in focus. Also, peak performance occurs when work is done during an individual’s prime work time. So, pay attention to what works best for you in terms of space and time of day.

While engaging on social media is oftentimes seen as a tempting way to unwind, constant use can actually reduce the ability to focus and learn effectively; consider exercising, meditating or taking a short nap instead to increase your productivity.

It’s really a question of balance. If you’ve worked on your planner and prioritized your to-do list considering your personal optimal times for focusing, it’ll be easier for you to see when to allow yourself for breaks and you can find yourself more energized and available for work.