Individuals need a certain amount of stress to be motivated and accomplish goals, but if left unmanaged, stress can be dangerous to your health.
Stress affects your immune system, hormonal response, and biochemical reactions, which influence digestive, cardiovascular, neurological, and musculoskeletal systems. Long-term problems include backache, headache, infection, depression, heart disease, and cancer.
One common stressor is not having enough time. Use these time management tips to help keep stress manageable.
Time Management Tips
Spend some time planning and organizing
Using time to think and plan is a good use of time. Use a daily calendar to write down deadlines, exam dates, and other important events. Include dates that you plan to start studying for a test or writing a paper. Use colors and pictures if it is useful. You will be able to identify weeks that are heavier than others and ensure that you have enough time to prepare for them.
Set short- and long-term goals for yourself
Set goals that are specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable. They should cause you to “stretch” but not “break.” Keep your goals visible to remind you of them. Goals provide direction for your life and the way you spend your time.
Make to-do lists
Before you go to bed each night, make a list of what needs to be accomplished the next day, and follow it. Adding time amounts and listing in order of priority may be helpful. Making a list can help you stay focused and give you a sense of accomplishment as you check off items. Some well-organized people say that your list should only have 3 things on it. Some people also make up weekly and monthly to-do lists.
Consider your body's “prime time”
Are you a morning person, night owl, or best in the afternoon? Try to plan your priorities for your peak time.
Save time in class
- Always attend class. It won't take you as long to learn the concepts if you are there.
- Read through class notes within 24 hours of taking them to make sure you understand the ideas and you have recorded the information clearly.
- Before the lecture, read the assigned readings so that the lecture will be more meaningful; this will prevent you from writing useless information down. Write down any questions to pose during the class.
Find and use a good work location
Students often waste a great deal of time because of poor concentration. Schedule study time into your timetable, turn off the TV and leave a message on your answering machine saying that you are studying and will call them back later.
Since you can’t do everything, learn to prioritize the important and let go of the rest.
Make waiting times work for you
Keep notes, paper, or a textbook with you, and use waiting times, bus rides, and long line ups to study notes, read, or outline an essay. You may be surprised how effective waiting time can be.
Break up large tasks into smaller tasks; this will make the project seem less intimidating and will help you fight procrastination. Try this: when you are avoiding something, set the timer and work on the task for just 15 minutes. By doing a little at a time, you may get to the point that you enjoy it or just want to finish it.
Leave time for exercise and social events
It is very important to not become obsessed over your schoolwork. However, be reasonable. If you have an 8:30AM class, don’t stay up until 2:30AM at night.
An important part of time management is to decide which activities you want to commit to and which you don’t have time for. Be realistic. Sometimes you need to say no.
Evaluate your progress
Monitor your progress and accomplishments when practicing effective time management. If you are not happy with your progress, you need to consider what is happening and how to improve the situation.
Take Advantage of Useful Resources
- Study skill workshops on campus at the University Library.
- Student Learning Services (SLS) at the University Library has writing, math, and stats help along with other course tutoring that are available and free.
- Libraries and librarians.
- First year Learning Communities (through Student Learning Services).
- Class tutorials.
- Professors' office hours.
- Old exam registry at the USSU Help Centre.
- Online class notes or become buddies with a fellow classmate to trade notes with or to phone when you have a question.
The Power of Sleep!
Many students want to sleep as little as possible - or feel like they have to. There are so many things that seem more important than getting a few more hours of sleep. Just as exercise and nutrition are essential for optimal health and happiness, sleep directly affects the quality of your waking life, including your mental sharpness, productivity, emotional balance, creativity, energy, and even weight management. Getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep each night can be the time management “magic” that you need.
- Use a calendar and use it. It can be a paper calendar. It can be a digital calendar on your phone. No matter what kind it is make sure you have one.
- Write down everything. Schedule when you plan to sleep, when you are going to do your laundry, when you are going to call home. The crazier your schedule gets, the more important this becomes.
- Make a daily to-do list with no more than 3 items on the list.
- Schedule time to relax.
- Keep trying new systems until you find one that works for you. If your phone calendar isn’t big enough, buy a paper one. If your paper one keeps getting torn, try the calendar on your laptop. If you have too many things written down each day, try color coding to help simplify.
- Always plan a little extra time. If you think a paper will take 6 hours to write, plan for 8. Better to have time left over, than to be rushed and do a poor job.
- Boenisch and Haney. The Stress Owner's Manual. (1996).
- Fleet and Reaume. Power Over Time: Student Success with Time Management. (1994)