Balancing college on top of everything else life throws at you may seem like a near impossible task, whether as a first-time student or if you are going back to school as an adult. Trust me – I was there for 16 years…and survived to talk about it today! One area that comes up time and again when I talk with college students is that of enhancing their time management skills. Here are 7 tips for college students to explore to better manage their time.

  1. Use waiting to your advantage. Think about how much time you spend waiting, whether it is in line at the bank, pharmacy, store or waiting on the phone for a customer service representative. Those are just a few examples, but it is amazing how much time you spend waiting – typically an hour or more each day. Take your textbook, books, journal articles, notebooks, highlighter, pen, etc. with you in your purse, car, or bag. When you find those moments that you need to wait for someone or something, use it to your advantage and dive into that school work. My favorite was taking journal articles, a highlighter, and pen, as these were typically easier reads and not difficult to break up into different periods of waiting I had throughout the day.

  2. Try out the Pomodoro technique. If you have not heard of the Pomodoro technique by now, I am a bit surprised, and know that you will likely LOVE this! My husband told me not long ago that it’s amazing how much house cleaning he could complete within 15 minutes. The Pomodoro aligns with this, in that you set a timer for a short period of time (maybe 20-30 minutes) and keep focused on a task. Once the timer dings, you set it to take a break (maybe 5-7 minutes), and then re-cycle through the process as many times as you need. A friend of mine completed 6 Pomodoro sessions in one day and was enthusiastic at her ability to make such progress.

  3. Create time blocks. A physical or electronic calendar can be used to create blocks of time in which a specific focus is identified. For example, I blocked out 4 hours on a Thursday morning to work on a specific work action item. You can utilize time blocking for standard items (e.g., studying for Biology class, going to the gym, watching Game of Thrones), or you can use time blocking for
    ad-hoc type needs, such as the example I provided. Creating and sticking to time blocks allow you to design and execute your schedule with focus in mind.

  4. Secure an accountability partner or group. To ensure you are staying aligned with your goals and using your time wisely, an accountability partner or group can support you, keep you honest, help you back up when you struggle, and cheer you on as you reach your goals. Consider a trial period for accountability with someone and see if it proves beneficial for you. I have goals and meet with a group once a week and provide an update and get feedback when I get stuck, which has been helpful to keeping me on track and is providing me with valuable support and encouragement along the way.

  5. Take a break! While it may feel like you are making real progress by going full steam ahead 24×7, it will lead to burn out and is dangerous. Don’t do it! Make sure to give yourself permission to take a break. It may be a small break, such as getting up and moving to another place in the house, walking with a friend or your pup, or, watching your favorite movie or television show; or a larger break, like volunteering for a day or taking a well-deserved vacation. Don’t let yourself get carried away with this “break” time though, as you still have work to do. It is a matter of finding the right balance, where you are making progress, yet also taking time for yourself.

Which of these tips have you already used? What was the outcome?

Republished from article I wrote on LinkedIn Publisher on May 11, 2016.