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Time Management and Productivity

Learn tips and tools to take back your time!

Many students learn they need to develop time management strategies when they get to college. Unlike high school, where teachers often use highly structured assignments and classes fill the entire day, in college you have a great deal of freedom and flexibility.  

This page offers a variety of tools to help you optimize your time management by outlining a weekly routine as well as ways to manage short-term and long-term responsibilities. Finally, there is some information on managing procrastination. Click the drop-down tabs below to begin. 

Developing a Productive Weekly Routine

With a lot of unstructured time on your hands, developing a weekly routine will help you make the most of your time. Use the steps below as a guide to getting a weekly routine established.

Step 1: Click here to open the Weekly Schedule Tool. Next, follow the directions below to develop a weekly routine using the template provided. 

Step 2: Follow the document’s directions and begin entering “have-to” items at the corresponding times, such as your classes, work hours, standing appointments, and other obligations. 

Step 3: Block off times you want to wake up, eat meals, commute to class, go to the gym, attend SI meetings, etc.

  • You should also block off an hour or two each day for recreation so that you can maintain a healthy balance of school, job responsibilities, and relaxation. 

Step 4: Finally, review the gaps left in your schedule. It is important to make the most of this time.

  • Without a strategic plan, hours during the day can be wasted and leave you scrambling to complete assignments at night when you’d rather be enjoying time with friends or sleeping.
  • For example, do you have an hour or two after class gets out on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? Instead of playing video games or scrolling your phone, try to complete an assignment, review notes, or study for an upcoming quiz.
  • Set a goal for the gaps in your schedule throughout the week. Here are some examples you could try:
    • Complete math problems
    • Go to a language lab
    • Read a history assignment and take notes 

Step 5: Once your routine is set, feel free to tweak it in the coming weeks

  • For example: maybe you decide you want to do your math homework in the Math Lab in Centennial Hall (located within the Student Success Center), and that requires you to switch days to make it more efficient in your schedule. 

With this schedule in place, you can make the most of your days. Doing so will allow you to complete your schoolwork while also making space for downtime to recharge or spend time with friends.

Managing Your Short-Term Commitments

Now that you have a weekly routine, the next step is to organize a way to manage the responsibilities that come up each week in the semester. Below are some tips for developing an effective plan. 

Check Canvas and your UWEC email daily.  Canvas and email are the two mechanisms professors use to communicate class information.  

Use daily planning.   Write down all assignments, tests, and commitments for the week in a planner. Set a time to review your planner everyday (when you get up, after your last class, before bed, etc.).  

Use your phone as a planner.  If you prefer your phone over a paper planner, you can use an application like iCalendar or Google Calendar. You just need to be consistent and put everything in your phone.  Get into the habit of looking ahead and planning the next day/week.  

Plan ahead for the week.  On Sunday night, look at the week ahead and make plans based on what is due or what you must accomplish. Record these plans in your planner and/or phone for use during the week.  

Create a daily to-do list.  Put this list in a visible spot (planner, phone, notebook, desk) and cross items off as you complete them. Don’t put more on your list than you can actually accomplish in one day. You want to set yourself up to cross off every item.  

Managing Your Long-Term Commitments

Note important information from your course syllabuses.  At the beginning of the semester, highlight key points of each course syllabus, including class attendance requirements, make-up work policies, final exam dates, etc.    

Use monthly planning.  During the first week of classes, write every due date in a planner.  This allows you to see the big picture of your semester and identify what weeks are going to be the busiest or most challenging, so you can plan accordingly.  

Use phone reminders.  Put due dates and other events into your phone and set an alert to remind you a week in advance. Then, set a second alert to remind you just before the due date or event.  

Set long-term goals.  Write out your long-term goals and keep them in a visible place (wall of your room, notebook, etc.).  Review your goals regularly to help you keep on track.  Example: “I am going to attend all my classes and get a 3.0 GPA or above.”  

Understanding Procrastination

Procrastination and time management go together. Social scientists debate whether procrastination can be better explained by the inability to manage time or the inability to regulate moods and emotions, but given that procrastinators often carry feelings of guilt, shame, or anxiety with their decision to delay, this emotional element suggests there’s much more to the story than time management alone.   

 

 

Watch the following video for more information about procrastination and strategies for overcoming it. You can also find more resources below. 

For more support with your time management, schedule a free appointment with a Peer Academic Coach!  These hour-long meetings provide students with one-on-one support from another student trained to offer support and accountability.    

Check out the following videos for additional study tips!

Works Consulted: 

“Calendars and College.” University of North Carolina. Retrieved from https://learningcenter.unc.edu/tips-and-tools/using-planners/ 

“Fixed Commitment Calendar.” Texas A&M University. Retrieved from https://asc.tamu.edu/Study-Learning-Handouts-(1)/Fixed-Committment-Calendar 

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