Schedule your time. Collect all of your syllabi and/or work task lists. Use an electronic or printed calendar or planner to record deadlines for all of the assignments, papers, projects, and exams scheduled for the semester. Additionally, you can take time each day to develop a daily schedule listing specifically what you will do the next day. Include times for each activity. Be sure to block time for exercise, meals, socializing, sleeping and studying.
Develop a game plan. Allow several nights for reading, studying for major exams and completing problem sets. Set aside more time for research papers, projects, and labs. Plan some time for emergencies such as lost files and computer problems. When possible, try working ahead of schedule.
Identify time robbers. For a few days, keep a log of what you do and how much time you spend on each task. Perhaps you have problems with disorganization or find it difficult to get started on projects and assignments. Remember, Yik Yak, Twitter, Instagram, Tinder, Snapchat, and web-surfing can be real time robbers. If you find that you waste a lot of time using these tools, schedule a finite amount of time for social media and use your phone as a timer to keep you on schedule.
Make the most of each class/project. Reading each assignment beforehand may help with understanding lectures. When possible plan to attend every class and read your lecture notes at the end of each day and/or week. You can also visit the Wake Forest University Math and Writing Centers for tutoring or to further develop your study skills.
Develop an efficient study/work style. Some experts recommend study or working (if intensive) for 50 minutes and breaking for 10 minutes of each hour of study time. Rewarding yourself with an activity that you really enjoy, such as calling a friend, during the 10-minute break may help to keep you motivated to study or work longer. While reading, highlight passages, take notes and write questions to yourself. These practices may help you retain the information. Visit the Wake Forest University Learning Assistance Center to assess your best learning style.
Avoid procrastination. People tend to procrastinate on three things: Unpleasant things, difficult tasks, and hard decisions. To combat these traps, do what you like least first. Once you have it out of the way, you’ll be able to better concentrate on the things you enjoy and possibly do a better job. Think about alternative ways of doing difficult things. Think outside the box. Making it fun may help you to get started.
Focus on the task at hand. Don’t waste time worrying about past or future assignments. Focus on what you’re doing at that given moment. Use any distractions as a reminder to stay in the moment.
Turn elephants into hors d’oeuvres. Divide a large task into smaller chunks so it seems less overwhelming. For example, divide a large paper into a series of smaller steps, such as selecting a topic, conducting a literature review, taking notes, developing an outline, etc.
Keep your workspace in order. Even if the rest of your living space is a mess, try to keep your desk clear. Piles of paper are distracting. You could end up wasting a lot of time looking for notes, articles and other needed materials. Spend at least ten minutes at the end of the day getting your workspace in order. It will help you to have a fresh start each day.
Are you overwhelmed by this list of suggestions? Start by making one or two small changes. Adopting new habits and changing just a few things can help you to better use your time and remain productive throughout the semester.