Hi everybody. My name is Terry Kupp, and I’m the Director of Learning Commons – Academic Support here at Cayuga Community College. Today I’m here to share with you some time management strategies to help you succeed as a college student. As the quote here says, "You can’t manage time, but you can manage yourself and how you spend your time." Sometimes time management is better referred to as self-management because you can’t change time, but you can make decisions for what you do with your time to manage it well. In today’s presentation, I’m going to share some common time management mistakes that college students make so that you could see if maybe you identify with any of them and some strategies to help you improve when it comes to time management. But first, why is time management even important? Good time management allows you to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. That makes perfect sense. If it’s taking you a long time to get something done because you have distractions and things like that, then you’re not going to have as much time to do other things.
The task is going to take longer if you are not being efficient with your time. Again, that does lead if you have good time management, you’ll have more free time. Longer it takes for you to get something done, the less free time you’re going to have. If you’re not managing your time well, and you don’t have a lot of free time, then you’re going to be more stressed. Having good time management skills helps lower your stress, and it helps you to focus, which leads to success in your courses. If you think about it, if you are rushing to get things done, if you’re worried about getting things done because you don’t have a lot of time, then you’re not going to be able to focus well, and that is going to impact your studies for sure. Ten common time management mistakes that everybody makes, but particularly students are listed here. As I go through them, think about them and whether or not they impact you because you might be thinking to yourself that you get things done on time, that you don’t really have any time management struggles, but maybe if you do see yourself in some of these, you can recognize opportunities to even improve what might already be good time management strategies for yourself. But more likely than not, you’re watching this video because you do identify that you have some challenges with time management. The first step in fixing something is recognizing where the problems lie. Maybe this will help you identify what challenges you have. The first one is procrastination.
Again, this is not just a common college student mistake, but something that a lot of people do. When you procrastinate, then you’re putting things off to the last minute. That’s not a good way to manage your time. When it comes to college students in particular, it’s easy to procrastinate when you get a syllabus, and it has all these assignments on there, but they don’t come up right away. For instance, maybe you have an assignment to write a paper, but it’s not due for three weeks. Maybe the assignment is not introduced in class until it’s actually, you have a lot of time, it’s introduced three weeks before you actually have to complete it, and you think I have so much time to get this done, so you procrastinate. Three weeks becomes two weeks to get it done, becomes one week to get it done, and now you only have days or maybe even hours to complete that assignment that you thought had a lot of time for. Don’t do that. Don’t procrastinate.
When you get on top of things right away, that assignment that your professor introduces three weeks before is introduced because the expectation is to take that much time to get it done. Don’t wait. Number 2, not setting priorities. In any given day, you have all kinds of things you want to do. You might have schoolwork to do, you might want to spend time with your friends, all kinds of things. But if you don’t set your priorities each day, the most important things are less likely to get done. Number 3, amount of time spent on social media. Now, social media is one of those things that a little bits of time add up. Those little bits of time can be spent doing other things. You might think, I don’t really spend a lot of time on social media, I only go on here and there and dribs and drabs, but that actually is something that happened to me. I didn’t realize how much time I spent on social media until my phone app told me how much time I spent on my phone. It was a lot more than I thought because those little bits of time add up. Recognizing that and limiting your time on social media can help you save some time.
Four, not creating a to-do list is a common mistake. To-do lists enable you to set your goals throughout the day, not just the priorities in number 2, but also just really having a task list of what you need to complete each day so that you can get all of it done. Number 5, interruptions and distractions are more about where and how you get things done and how you spend your time. You might say, I’m setting aside all of this time to get my work done, but you set that time aside in a place where you’re going to have a lot of interruptions and distractions, and that will make it less likely that your time will be spent well, things will take a lot longer if you have interruptions and distractions when you’re trying to complete a task. Six, not setting goals or having a game plan for success. Now, this is different than not setting priorities because setting priorities in number 2 is more about daily priorities. Number 6 is having big goals. If you have big goals that you’re aspiring to, and you see how each thing you need to do in a given day and in a given course contributes to leading to you attaining that goal, then you’re more likely to spend the time on those things to be successful. For example, if you have a math test, and you only think of it as, oh, I have to take this math test, then you might not put the time and energy, and effort into it.
But if you think of it as well, I have this career goal and this math test being successful on it is going to help me complete this math course, which is going to help me in this program and to complete this degree and that this degree will help me have that wonderful career, then you will be more likely to focus and manage your time for that test better. Seven, trying to multitask. You might think this is my time management strategy. I get a lot of things done at once, and that can work for a lot of things, but it doesn’t typically work well for college work because when you’re writing a paper, when you’re completing an assignment, when you’re reading, when you’re studying, you need to focus. If you try to do other things while you are doing those things for class that require focus, it’s more likely going to be that it will actually take you more time to get something done. It’s probably better before you complete, or before you start an assignment or reading or whatever it might be, that you recognize these are the things I need to do when I’m done so that you complete them afterwards. Number 8, not saying no, taking on too much is something that a lot of people do, and it ends up eating into your time for your goals and for the things you need to accomplish and so that is a time management challenge.
Number 9, ineffectively scheduling tasks. What this refers to is when you have to set aside time for maybe studying for a test, doing your reading, writing a paper. If you don’t put enough time on there, if you’re not realistic in how much time it will actually take, one tip for doing this is the first time you read a chapter for class, see how long it takes you and say this is going to be how much time I need to set aside each time I read a chapter, or the same thing for writing a paper. Make sure that you set aside time for all the steps because we know that you can’t just sit down to write a paper. You need to get all of your references together and have your outline. You should have it reviewed to ensure that it’s good by our tutoring staff. It’s a great strategy so make sure that you are realistic in the time you set for completing college tasks. Then this one number 10 might sound counter-productive, not taking breaks during your study time. You might think I plow through everything, I get everything done at once, I’m really good at this, this is a good time management strategy for me. But in reality, if you have a task that takes a long time, maybe studying or reading or writing, you do need to refuel yourself. You need to sometimes step away, take a walk. Just give your brain a chance to recharge, to reset, relax. That’ll help you be less stressed in your task and ultimately will probably in the long run save you time. Those are the common time management mistakes. Do you relate to any of them? Did any of these sound familiar to you?
That actually is all related to the first tip which is knowing yourself. The first step in that is recognizing where you might make time management mistakes. Then the other part of that is understanding how you really spend your time. Sometimes we don’t even sit down to see how our time is spent in a given day or week to recognize how much time we really have free. An activity suggestion is to create a weekly hourly planner and take a sheet of paper, put seven columns in it, and then for each one, for each day of the week, and then break it down to hourly blocks. Fill in there all of your half dues in your day. Where you have when you’re in class, when you have to work, any other responsibilities that you have. This task is oftentimes an eye-opener for people. You might see you have a lot of time at free, and you say, how can I not be getting everything done? If that’s your case, you might be then looking back at those common time management mistakes and say, this is what’s happening here that I need to really fix. Or you might be in a situation where you see, wow, my time is booked from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep.
That’s why I’m not getting my assignments done. Seeing that can also be helpful because it can tell you here are some things I might need to cut out to be able to focus on my goals. This is about making the changes, recognizing how your time is spent and what time you have to make changes to be able to succeed. Next is identifying and making the most of that free time. You could use that daily schedule I just mentioned, or you can take one of those class schedules that we have in the Learning Commons where it shows the daily class scheduled blocks, and you can be able to fill your classes in and do the same thing as that last activity to see where your responsibilities are and what free time you have. In the blocks of time, you could fill in big assignments, and you could fill in time to spend in the Learning Commons with tutors and things like that. But then you also might have fritter time in your schedule.
Maybe 20 minutes in-between classes. You might think, well, I can’t do anything in that time and that’s easy social media time or other time wasters. It’s good to identify those times. I’m actually going to share a tip in the next slide about one way you can use that for your time. Also, it’s important to understand what your prime-time is. Are you an early riser and you most effective, and you’re most focused in the morning? Or are you dragging in the morning, but at night you’re raring to go and that’s your best most focused time for you? You’ll want to make sure that when you do schedule tasks for yourself and when you’re going to complete your assignments, you do them at the time where you are at your most optimal. Don’t say I’m going to get up early and write this paper when you know that you won’t get up early. The same thing if you say, I’ll stay up late and get it done, but you really know that you drag in the evenings, then that’s not the best time to set aside to do your work. Then also where and under what conditions are you most productive? Again, if you don’t want to pick a place where you’re going to have a lot of distractions. If you have that big block of time to get a paper done, maybe choose to work on it at a computer in the Learning Commons where if you need assistance, there might be a writing tutor available to help you to review your paper and answer some questions for you. Same goes for now. Then tip Number 3 is to use a planner. It doesn’t matter if you use a paper planner, you use an electronic planner, whatever works for you. But it’s critical to put your due dates into there so that you don’t miss them. It’s very easy when life is going on in your life that you might miss, that something’s coming up.
But just as importantly, you should plan when you’re going to do the work required to meet the due date. For instance, if you have a test, and you want to make sure that you go backwards from your review time at the very end. Maybe a couple of days before the test to prior to that setting aside a day or however many hours you know for yourself and how you study are necessary to really learn and understand the material. You can say I’m going to work on this topic this day, this topic the next day, this topic the next day. Now I’ve covered all my topics, I think I really understand them. Now I’ll have a couple of days to review, but you go backwards from the due date to when you need to start that process to ensure it’s completed. Checklists are also very helpful. I actually keep a little book with checklists each day so that I don’t forget to do something, and so that is going to also be a successful planner type of tip. You could write them right into your planner, a separate notebook, however, works for you. Another tip is to use, or to always leave a time cushion to count for surprises, because you never know if you might get sick or something might come up. If you give yourself a cushion before big things are due to make sure you have that time just in case, then you won’t run into any problems. Some other helpful time management strategies.
I know that’s what you’re here for. First, you might not want to hear this one, but it’s best to work on your hardest subjects first. They are going to take the most time typically, and so you want to make sure that you have the time for it. Things that come easier to you, you might want to spend all the time on that. But you want to make sure that you give the amount of time for each subject. Equal time, equal or at least just what’s appropriate for each, what you need for each. Do those hardest subjects first. The 20-minute test prep is when earlier I referred to those 20 minutes you might have between classes. You say, what can I do with that time? Well, that’s a great time to review the material from your previous class. To say you finish your chemistry class at 1:30, but your math class doesn’t start until 2:00. You could sit down, find a quiet place on campus or maybe go into the classroom if it’s open, or stay in the classroom where you’re at, and review the notes from that class. That will enable you to reinforce the material immediately, and it will also enable you to see if you have gaps in your notes or in your understanding that you can ask a classmate or your professor to clarify and fill in for you before you forget what it even was there where the gap was.
You can also at that time, if it only takes you 10 minutes to review and maybe review the class before that too, in that extra 10 minutes. Then you’re reinforcing that day’s class notes and the one before. That now you’re reinforcing the material so that when it comes time to study in the very end, you’re not necessarily cramming because you’ve been studying all along. You’ve been reinforcing it along the way. Those 20 minutes here and there, even if it’s not in-between classes, but maybe before you leave campus to go home, that that’s something that you do too as a good effective time management strategy. Earlier we mentioned scheduling short study breaks.
Again, take that time to refuel, take a walk around campus around the block, get something to eat. Maybe they sometimes call something mini vacations. Look at something on social media, maybe your YouTube video that makes you laugh and just can reset, especially if you’re stressed out about the work that you’re doing. Another is identifying times that you’ll be busy and have a strategy for what you’re going to do during those busy times. You might know that you have family coming in from out of town an event that you really want to attend. Rather than waiting till the last minute and then saying, no, I can’t do those fun things that I wanted to do because I have this assignment coming up, instead, you can plan in advance for those. Known when you’re going to get the work done that’s due around those times so that you can enjoy those other activities and events in your life too.
Finally, scheduling time for yourself and staying healthy. If you are stressed, you’re not going to be as effective with your time. If you’re not healthy, that takes time out too from getting things done. It’s important to do the things that you need. You know what your body needs to be healthy, you know what your mind needs to be happy, take that time for yourself. Because then you will be at your best self to be able to manage your time and be a successful college student. That’s all I have for today. But we are all here in the Learning Commons. We have staff in the academics support area who are going to be able to help you if you have specific time management or any study skills questions come on by. If you’re not able to come to campus, check us out on the website. On our website if you look up academic support on the main page and go to Study Skills, that’s where you actually found this video, but there are some other resources as well. Good luck with your semester and come see us in the Learning Commons so that we can help you succeed. Thank you.