A successful academic semester is the result of a well-developed schedule that considers long term and short term goals. A good schedule includes four activities every day: sleeping, eating, studying (in and out of class), and leisure time (including exercise).
If you do too much of one of these and skip another, your schedule will be unbalanced. When this happens, you end up being less productive in the things you do choose to do. In fact, most freshmen cite poor time management as the number one reason they fail to achieve at least a "C" average during their first semester at college. Organize yourself and manage your time effectively to meet your own needs and adapt to your own strengths. Use the time at which you are most effective in studying. Everyone has a different cycle for sleeping, eating, studying, and leisure time. You need to develop your own schedule, and stick to it.
It is a good idea to have several schedules:
Set deadlines for things you need to have done. These deadlines help overcome procrastination. To many, a very human characteristic is to want to put things off. If you are going to meet your short-term and long-term goals, you should set deadlines. Meeting these deadlines will enable you to accomplish both your academic and fun goals.
Schedule time for yourself. Don’t overextend yourself so that you have so many classes, club meetings, school activities, and job commitments that there is not time to reflect, relax, and think. Different people do these things in different ways. Some people meditate, others pray, others prefer to be alone to just let their mind wander. Make time for these activities.
Be realistic in planning how long it will take to read a chapter in a book. Schedule breaks for yourself during study periods. However, be sure the breaks don’t run longer than the study periods. Plan your favorite activities for after you have completed harder tasks. Otherwise if you do them first, you might be tempted to continue them instead of returning to your studies.
Look for "hidden" study time. We waste a great deal of time each day that we could spend studying. Carry a text to read while waiting for the bus, riding downtown, waiting in the health center, or doing your laundry. Study between classes.
Plan your major tasks for your most productive time and your most productive environment. If you’re a "night person," then plan your hardest activities for that period and in the location where you work best. If you work best in the early afternoon in a quiet place, then plan to do your most demanding task in that time and place. After identifying your most productive time and place, try to stick with them. Remember, though, that the work that most requires your "mental" energy should be done in the first twelve hours that you are awake - when your mind is most primed to retain it.
When developing your personal schedule, keep two things in mind:
For more information about time management, make an appointment with one of the staff in the Shepard Academic Resource Center.