Time Management Strategy

Keeping a Personal Calendar (The Best Strategy for Managing Yourself)

If you’ve learned to keep an effective daily calendar, you know how valuable it can be.  If you’ve never kept one, this is the one best thing you can learn to help you be a successful student!

Select the right calendar for you. Is it an App?  Is it Microsoft Outlook?  Is it a paper notebook?  Regardless of what you choose, it should be easily accessible, portable, synced across all electronic devices, easy to input items with space to write notes and reminders.

Keep it with you ALL THE TIME.  Write down appointments, meetings and homework assignments as soon as you know them. Learn to create “reoccurring tasks” such as classes and regular meetings.

Look at your calendar every morning before you start the day, the end of the day and frequently throughout the day.  It doesn’t do any good to keep a calendar if you don’t look at it.  Set reminders on electronic calendars to notify you 15 minutes in advance of your appointments, classes or meetings.

To be really effective in helping you manage your time, you need to schedule a number of things:

  • Class schedules, tests and homework assignments
  • Work schedules.
  • Meetings, activities, rehearsals, performances.
  • Schedule time to exercise at least three times per week.  Do not skip this!
  • Allow for free time, time to relax and recreational activities. Take a break between class and study time.
  • Schedule your study time.  Plan out your week to allow ample scheduled time to complete projects, homework and study for exams.  If you don’t have any classes on a particular day, schedule yourself to study in the morning or the time of day when you have more energy.  Marathon study sessions are usually wasted because it is difficult to stay focused for that long.  Schedule your time in two- or three-hour blocks and plan a 5 or 10-minute break every hour.
  • Keep a list of short “to do” items that you can do in a free hour, for example short errands, short trips to the grocery store.
  • Make sure you note the “big tasks or projects” that require several stages and plan out those stages.  If you have a big paper due, set intermediate deadlines for yourself for research, outline, draft 1 and final draft.  This helps you avoid waiting until the last minute.

Getting Behind.  Everybody gets behind because of illness, emergencies, or other unforeseen circumstances.  It’s not a disaster.  The disaster comes when you don’t do anything about it and you get further and further behind.  Here’s a good way to get caught up:

  1. Make a list of everything you can think of that you need to do to get caught up.  Don’t leave anything out.
  2. Assign priorities to the list.  What are the top, medium and low priorities?
  3. Label the each item with the time it will take to do the task.  If a task seems insurmountable, break it down into stages or parts.
  4. Complete the top priority items first.  Look at your schedule and find times when you can complete them.  Don’t complete the low priority or easiest tasks first because they are less difficult.  Schedule 2 or 3 tasks that are easy or don’t take much time throughout the day or “in between” times that are devoted to longer study blocks.
  5. Evaluate every 3 or 4 days.  You may need to eliminate or postpone some tasks.  You may also need to reevaluate your goals for a particular project.
  6. The important thing is to keep going forward.  If you need to postpone a low-priority item (washing the car) to get caught up on a paper, it’s not a big deal.