Time management skills for student success

Emmy Hardy, Copy Desk Chief

Final exams are fast approaching. Soon, professors will prepare students for final projects, from essays to speeches to quizzes. With only days remaining in the semester, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed. The average student is more susceptible to stress and burnout during this time period.

I am here to say: Fear not. Here are some time management skills any student can benefit from.

Plan at least a week ahead. College is not like high school. Outside of rare cases, there will be no assignments announced a few days before they are due. Before the semester begins, almost all Dallas College courses become available on eCampus, with semester-long syllabi provided.

The syllabus is always your friend. It will do wonders in helping you manage your time. Jot down and categorize your due dates in a notebook. Do not rely on your instructor to remind you  when an assignment is due.

At the beginning of each week, make a list of every assignment you must complete during that time. Dedicate at least three hours over a two day period in the week per assignment.

Make sure to assign a specific time of day for each task. This will ensure there are no time overlaps for assignments. If at all possible, pick a time of day before 8 p.m. If you start an assignment past this time, you have already sabotaged yourself by working on something with a tired mind and body.

Identify your learning style. Are you a visual person? If so, write a more detailed list of assignments and due dates in a notepad. Start with the larger assignments (exams, projects, speeches, etc.) and work down from there. Use different color pens for easy identification.

If you absorb information in a more auditory fashion, it never hurts to set reminders. Your smartphone’s calendar app is capable of holding a semester’s worth of reminders in it. Use that convenience. Set specific chimes for each category of assignment. Perhaps a brighter one for homework, and an urgent one for more heavy duty assignments. Be sure to set the reminder a few days before the due date. Set up multiple reminders for each assignment. Think of these as medication reminders; important notices that if followed, will benefit you.

Did neither of these methods appeal to you? In that case, you may be a kinesthetic learner. You will require a bit more motion with your methods. I would suggest putting up a medium sized whiteboard in the area of your house where you are likely to be moving around the most, such as the kitchen.

At the beginning of each week, write down a list of assignments due, as well as any other academic goals. In addition, put daily sticky notes by the front door or on your bathroom mirror. Being reminded of your due dates while you are more active should assist you in keeping track of everything.

Do not overwork yourself. College is hard. It requires dedication and consistent effort. That is the reality. However, that is no excuse to avoid self-care.

Try not to dedicate more than four hours to an assignment without taking a break of at least 15 minutes. Not allowing yourself to sit back and relax once in a while will have detrimental effects on you and your health. It will also result in poorer work overall. You may feel pressured to keep working, but in my experience, it is always best to stop working when you feel your focus slipping. A clear head will produce clear work.

Finals are no fun. That is a fact of life. However, if you are able to manage your time effectively, they can at least be bearable.