Time management is the process of planning and having control over the amount of time you spend on different activities to promote productivity. College is the first time where many individuals get to experience managing time completely on their own. Time management is important in college because it:
- teaches you self-discipline
- helps you schedule time to eat, sleep and exercise
- enables you to meet deadlines
- improves your decision making
- helps you plan breaks
- limits stress
Time management can simply mean making a list of all the tasks you need to complete in a day or a week, and allotting time to each one. This can be in the form of a simple to-do list with pen and paper or utilizing a calendar (or scheduling) application on your smartphone or laptop.
The process of creating a schedule holds you accountable to staying on track with your daily or weekly goals. Without writing down the tasks that need to be completed each day, you can become forgetful of what needs to be accomplished, and become more easily distracted.
1. Time Management Teaches You Self-Discipline
For a lot of young adults, college is the first time they move away from their parents and the home they grew up in. College is where you learn what self-discipline is and when you get to experience first hand the benefits and consequences it can bring. Put in its most basic form, self-discipline is doing what you should be doing.
Now more than ever, there are an unlimited number of ways to distract yourself from doing what you should be doing. Many reach for their phone and scroll through social media, check for updates on the trade rumors of their favorite athlete or read breaking news alerts every time they receive a notification.
When summed up over a whole day, the time spent on these small distractions can be a substantial amount. Furthermore, it is very inefficient to change tasks so frequently. It can take your brain several minutes each time you switch tasks to refocus and get in the correct mindset for the work you are trying to complete.
When you create a schedule and have allotted a certain amount of time for a task, you are more likely to have the self-discipline to stay focused and block out distractions. This is because, with a schedule, you have given yourself a specific amount of time for each task. When the time runs out, you are moving onto the next item on your list.
Those who don’t assign an amount of time to a task aimlessly work without any real urgency or efficiency. As they don’t have a goal of when a certain task should be completed, they work for much longer than required to finish an item. More often than not, the extra time they spend to complete a task doesn’t mean a better end product, it just means they have spent more time being distracted.
As discussed more below, it is important to take breaks, but there is a time and a place. When you are managing your time correctly, you can plan for breaks in your schedule as a reward for your hard work.
2. Time Management Helps You Schedule In Time To Eat, Sleep, and Exercise
While it might seem like all you have time for in college is school work, you will burn out pretty fast if you aren’t maintaining some balance in your life. Scheduling time to eat, sleep and exercise are a few ways you can help maintain a balanced lifestyle. Despite the importance of these three activities, when life gets busy in college, they are often some of the first that get forgotten about.
Build a routine that involves a consistent wake-up time and bed-time, three meals a day, and frequent exercise. When you take proper care of your body, you will be more efficient and effective when it comes time for course work.
If you are able to schedule these activities, you are more likely to stick to your routine and repeat them day-after-day.
3. Time Management Helps You Meet Deadlines
Deadlines can seem daunting for many college students. It can be a stressful time as a deadline approaches for a paper that is due or a test you are required to write. Especially when you no longer have your teachers or parents chasing after you to complete your work as you did in your previous years of school.
However, you can limit your stress as a deadline approaches by creating a plan to achieve it. For instance, let’s say you find out you have a paper due in two weeks. Many students will begin the paper a few days before it is due and work long hours and late nights to complete it.
When you are able to create a plan and effectively manage your time, you can consistently put in a small amount of work over a longer period. As you work on your paper for an hour or two a day, the task and the deadline seem more manageable.
As time goes by, the small amount of effort you have put in each day for the last two weeks will amount to something substantial. When you reach a few days before the deadline, instead of just starting your paper and anxious about the amount of work you need to complete, you are completing your final reviews.
4. Time Management Helps Improve Your Decision Making
When you can better manage your time, your decision-making skills will improve. In fact, when you have a time management plan in place, your decisions will have already been made ahead of time, now you just need to take action.
A lot of college students waste time between different tasks when they are deciding what to work on next. They try to prioritize which items are more important, or alternatively, they inefficiently bounce around between different tasks. These quick choices without much thought generally lead to poor decision making and are an ineffective use of your time.
If you have a schedule in place, you already know what is next on the list. You have made those decisions previously when you took the time to evaluate all your options. You were able to determine the best approach and now you have a plan to keep you on track.
Furthermore, when you already know what is next on the list, you aren’t giving yourself an opportunity to be distracted. When you are able to move seamlessly from one task to another, you are able to use the momentum to keep progressing.
5. Time Management Helps You Plan Breaks (And Not Feel Guilty)
Breaks are important. When you are busy with a full schedule in college, it is sometimes hard to recognize or realize when you might need a break.
When you create a schedule, you are able to plan for short breaks throughout your day. If you are sticking to your schedule and completing what you set out to, you don’t feel guilty when you do take a break. Instead, it is a reward for your hard work, and a chance to take your mind off course work before it is time to refocus.
6. Time Management Helps You Limit Stress
College can be very stressful, but being able to effectively manage your time can help reduce your stress enormously. You may feel stressed in college from being overwhelmed with too much work, working long hours, or as deadlines and exams approach.
To start, write everything down on paper that needs completing. When the items are written down, you aren’t constantly trying to remember everything that needs to be done. For a lot of people, this simple task in itself can help to reduce stress.
Now you know what you need to complete, you can create daily and weekly plans as a roadmap. Weekly plans keep you looking ahead to know what is coming up in the future. Daily plans keep you focused (can be broken down by the hour) on what needs to be accomplished each day. When you are feeling overwhelmed with what needs to be completed, your daily plan that will keep you on track.
It is important to understand the value of time and why time management skills will benefit you throughout college and your career. When you can manage your time effectively, you will begin to notice that you are more productive, less stressed, and live a more balanced life.
The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?
eightysixfourhundred, make them count