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The best way to use your time effectively is to create a formal time management plan. It makes it easy to see what must be done and when. You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment when you check items off. You might even find you have more free time and less stress.
Making a Time Management Plan
Here's how it's done. Get out a piece of paper, a pencil or pen, and a calendar, along with your class schedules.
- List all your major tasks and goals for a particular time frame.
- Assign priority rankings to your tasks and goals. This can be difficult. Start by breaking them into three categories (high, medium, low priority), then ranking each item within those categories from most to least important.
- Begin plugging the most important items into your calendar. Make sure your deadlines are realistic. Don’t take too little or too much time to finish. For large or overwhelming tasks, try breaking them into smaller sub-tasks. Sometimes it can be easier to do a lot of little things over time than one large thing all at once.
- Repeat the process with medium priority items.
- Throw out your low-priority items. They’re either unnecessary or will take care of themselves.
- Get to work. Tackle highest priority items first when possible. Guard yourself, because only you know if you’re cheating.
- Post your plan where you can see it daily.
Choosing a Time Frame
Start with your college career. Lay out the courses you will be taking, and when you will take them. Remember to be realistic.
Next, map out a semester. Take the course outlines you receive at the beginning of classes and plug in your reading assignments, papers, tests, and social activities. Most assignments will be good examples of large tasks that should be broken into smaller sub-tasks.
Last, depending on how organized you want to be, you can make a Time Management Plan for each week, and from there for each day. Be careful not to overplan. Vary your workload so that it does not become boring and regimented. Tasks will be easier to do that way.
The key to a good Time Management Plan is personal commitment. Since it is a plan that you alone have made, with your abilities, desires, and goals in mind, you should have no trouble following it. If you don't feel a high degree of commitment, then you have probably not given an honest appraisal of yourself and your goals.
Of course, it’s easy to get confused about your goals. If you’re having trouble sticking to your plan, schedule an appointment with a CAPS counselor. If you’ve paid your IU Health Fee this semester, your first two visits are free.
Where to Find More Time
- Don’t budget more time for a task than it requires.
- A few hours of concentrated work when you feel good is worth more than twice the time spent when you don’t.
- Schedule tasks when you function best.
- Allow time for the unexpected. One unanticipated problem can cause others if your schedule is too rigid.
- Don’t forget to relax.
- Don’t waste time feeling guilty about what you didn’t do. Just push ahead.