Whether you’re attending a state school or a university, an online program or an Ivy League college, the predicament is the same: How do you effectively manage your time as a student in order to maximize your success?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feel out of balance and overwhelmed by your work load?
- Do you struggle to balance your social life with your many school-related responsibilities?
- Do you feel like your stress level is becoming unmanageable as a result of your busy school schedule?
If you answered “yes” to any of these and your lack of time is giving you the blues, jot this down: when you manage your time effectively, you can raise your GPA, have more time to go out with your friends (really!) and even create opportunities to hit the snooze button without feeling an ounce of guilt. Here’s how to go from stressed to academic success in just seven steps:
1. Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall …
… you’re the smartest one of all (or at least you are when you apply the following tip to your daily ‘to do’ list!).
A smart student knows what his goals are. The smartest student of all is crystal clear on what his goals are, what he’s willing to sacrifice for them, and how he’ll go about accomplishing each and every one.
See the difference?
Hone in on what your goals are by starting every week with a ‘to do’ list. Write down at least three tangible, short-term goals you want to accomplish.
It could be meeting with a tutor twice a week to raise your Chemistry grade, or eating better to improve your energy level in order to pay better attention in class. Whatever your goals are, stick with them and cross them off as you accomplish each one!
2. Accomplish the Hardest Task First
There’s no two ways about it—you can’t effectively manage your time if you procrastinate, which is why this tip may be the most important one for you to start using today! When you procrastinate, you waste time, and usually lots of it.
So, face your fear.
If you are avoiding your math homework, mark this as your first, most urgent task to accomplish. Chances are, when you focus on completing the thing you avoiding the most, you’ll free up the rest of your day to accomplish more, feel better about yourself, and kick your old procrastination habit to the curb.
3. The Secret to Your Success (Read All About It!)
While your parents may have told you that you need to study hard to earn the grade, what they may have failed to mention is how you keep up that commitment to being a stellar student, day after day.
Momentum is your secret time management ingredient, and what it really boils down to is learning how to prioritize your energy in order to use it on what will really earn you that perfect grade.
For example, think about a flashlight.
If you turned on a flashlight, and left it on for a few days straight, the battery would eventually die out, right? What happens a week later when you really need it? You’ve used up all of its energy unnecessarily, and it’s no longer able to function.
You’re smart, capable, and talented, so ask yourself—are you using your ‘battery life’ wisely?
Begin to think about when you need the most energy possible (such as when you need to memorize a million French phrases for an upcoming midterm) and when you should conserve your energy altogether (as in passing on a Thursday night party).
Apply this tip to your daily schedule, and you’ll have the secret to academic success!
4. Keep Track of Your Keys, Earn a Perfect GPA
Time management is all about organization, so that being said, answer the following question: In this very moment, do you know where your car keys are? If you don’t, you’re not organized. And if you’re not organized, then you’re not using your time wisely—academically, and otherwise!
Make small changes in your organization by following this one simple tip—give each thing in your life a place. That means, hammer in a key holder to your wall and place your keys there every time you get home (and before you do anything else).
Organize a file on your computer for each class, and eliminate all clutter of random word docs on your computer that make you feel frazzled.
Wake up early so that you can avoid feeling rushed in the morning, and at long last, make it to class on time and ready to surpass even your own expectations, let alone the expectations of your professor.
5. Focus on Success and Eliminate the Stress
Feeling stressed with all you have to do, keep up with and be responsible for? If you’re a student, you’re in good company (as all other students feel the same way!).
Fortunately, you have more control than you think you do.
Stress and time management go hand in hand, and here’s the truth—when you combat one, you can conquer the other. Start eliminating stress by beginning each day writing out a list of everything this week you’ve already accomplished and succeeded at!
It can be something small, such as talking to your TA about clarifying a particular concept from yesterday’s lecture, or something bigger, like waking up an hour early to get a workout in before heading to class.
By focusing on your successes, you’re less likely to stress, and that, in itself, saves you time!
6. Surrender the Resistance
When you encounter a setback (for example, a bad grade on a term paper or presentation), don’t fixate or ruminate on every tiny detail about what you did wrong. Ask questions and get clarification about why you got the grade you did, and learn from it. Then, move on and prove your inner critic wrong!
When you stop resisting all that you have to do in your busy academic life, and begin to tackle each day as it comes, you’ll begin to see each moment for what it is, instead of thinking, “How can I possibly get through this week without ripping my hair out?”
Start by taking just one step to accomplish the first thing on your to-do list. If you have a study session with your English buddy, make that the only thing you have to think about. Don’t worry about what the rest of your day will bring, but instead focus on getting out the door in time. Hone in on the moment, and concentrate on being completely present.
When you pay attention to each and every moment, you’ll notice time shifting and beginning to work in your favor!
7. Say Goodbye to Those Tempting “Pity Parties”
Feeling sorry for yourself is a serious time waster. After all, do you have the luxury to play the victim? Chances are, with your busy schedule, you don’t. Say goodbye to a pity mindset, and make more room to do more and accomplish everything on your to-do list!
Do this by turning each negative thought into a positive one. If you think, “I’ll never graduate on time,” stop that thought.
Visualize how great you’ll feel shaking your professor’s hand as he tells you what a great job you did in his class. Imagine going in for an interview in which you’re awarded an opportunity you can’t say no to.
Your hard work and diligence will pay off, just as soon as you leave the “pity parties” behind!
When you set priorities for yourself, become organized and eliminate stress by focusing on your successes (rather than your setbacks), you become a student who is confident and skilled. Then, you’ll find that you’re an effective time management expert ready to handle anything your school schedule or the “school of life” hands you!