Chances are, before you started university you spent over 30 hours per week at school, but only had to spend about 6 hours on homework. Did your teachers take attendance and make sure your assignments were handed in on time? Well, things are different now that you’re here—especially when it comes to how you should spend your time. Follow these 6 time management rules to help you take charge.
1. Time management doesn’t exist
Or, to put it differently: Time Management = You Management. There are always 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week. It’s up to you to decide how you’re going to make the best use of that time. A full-time university student should be spending about 56 hours a week on academics (maybe more depending on your program). It may seem like a lot, but you’ll be surprised at how fast it goes with all those classes, labs, assignments, reading, etc., etc. You should also be spending about 56 hours a week on sleep, and 56 hours on other activities.
2. Do all the calendars
A tried-tested-true technique! Buy one of those 4-month dry-erase wall calendars (you can get them from the Dal Bookstore), take your course syllabi and fill in all tests, quizzes, assignments, seminars, etc. for the entire semester. You’ll see right away what your entire semester looks like and where you’ll have busy weeks. This way nothing will sneak up on you! You should also fill in your weekly/daily agenda with the tasks to help you reach those academic goals. Set reminders and use online calendars! That way you won’t forget about meetings you scheduled weeks ago, your phone will remind you! Google calendar is a great platform for this.
3. Schedule time to study
So, what do you put into your weekly and daily calendars? For every hour you’re in class/lab, you should be spending about 2 hours on your own doing independent work. This means if you have 20 hours of classes/labs per week, you should spend an additional 40 hours working on assignments and studying for tests. You should also be using that time to do the maintenance tasks for all your classes (reviewing notes, reading textbooks etc.).
Divide the total hours by your number of courses (e.g. 40 independent hours = 8 hours per course, if you’re taking 5). In those 8 hours, you should be reviewing notes, reading texts, working on weekly assignments, etc. Some courses may use less time, some more, depending on their workloads. If you’re worried about how much time you should be spending on a course, ask your peers or an upper year student who’s already taken it.
4. It’s all in the details
If you go based on the example above, what should you be doing in those 8 hours/week/class? Be specific! Don’t just write, “Read textbooks” in a big 4-hour block in your calendar. Staying specific—with the time, location, and topic—will give you a manageable to-do list that keeps you on task and avoids procrastination. For example, you could devote Tuesdays from 2:30–4 (TIME) working on your weekly STAT 1060 assignment (TOPIC) at the MathStat Learning Centre (LOCATION).
5. Change up your scenery
A great way to stay on task is to switch up your scenery! make sure to check out all the study spots campus has to offer. Dal has 5 libraries in Halifax and in Truro, all of which have study rooms that can be booked out by all students. Booking a study room can motivate you to spend the time you’re there actually getting your work done. Other great places to study are cafes, public libraries, or even the quad (if its nice out!).
6. Use your resources
Talk to your professors and instructors about the workload for the course. They may offer suggestions as to the best study techniques and areas of focus. [Read more: 9 ways to keep good relationships with your profs]
And as soon as you have your class syllabuses, if you’re in Halifax, book an appointment with a study skills coach to work through your semester and talk through ways to schedule your week so you can stay on top of your course load. Or check for upcoming time management workshops. They’re free and they’re fantastic! If you’re in Truro, make an appointment with the student success coordinator.
Don’t let it overwhelm you—take charge, and remember: it’s not time management, it’s you management.