Good time management skills and habits are critical in the success of learning. Students spend the magority of their time studying independently. That’s why each student needs to know how to plan ahead and manage time successfully. Below you will find three elements of effective time management plus tools to help you with each.
Scheduling calendar apps, programs, and even hard copy agendas will help you to organize and stick with your busy schedule but only if they fit into your study habits. What are you more likely to use – an app on your phone, a laptop program, a spiral notebook? Make a choice and stick with it. These will help:
- If you’re an old-school note keeper, check out new agendas from shops like ban.do, Moleskin, and Blue Sky. Their creative designs and big, blank spaces will get you excited for the semesters that await you! But there’s more; consider using sticky notes, stickers, and tabs to label important weeks to make sure you don’t miss what’s coming up. Using a highlighter to emphasize certain events, such as tests or due dates, will make sure that they stand out to you when you review your agenda.
- If you prefer using your laptop, there are more options available to you than just Google calendar. Offline programs like Rainlendar are fully customizable and live on your desktop so your plan for the day won’t go down just because your wifi does. Web-based platforms like the project management tool Trello can double as effective personal time management tools, especially for big projects. Trello will help you to break down an essay or studying for a test into individual tasks and track your progress. And, of course, there is the most popular note-taking app of them all: Evernote, which syncs up across multiple devices: clips screenshots, and more.
- Phone fanatics have many scheduling apps to choose from, but which ones are the best? One of the best aspects of an app like Sunrise Calendar is that it syncs up with all of the other calendar apps you might use, such as Google Calendar and iCloud, while integrating real-time weather info (available on iOS and Android). If you respond to visual content (and are an Android user), check out Jorte Calendar, which also syncs with Google Calendar and integrates images and backgrounds into your schedule vie (and backs up using its own Cloud system, Jorte Cloud). The iOS app Fantastical 2 is a great choice for folks who prefer a clean design and want to dictate calendar events, which this app will automatically turn into calendar updates.
General Tip: Set aside time each evening before you go to sleep to review the next day’s plans on your calendar. Every Sunday, set aside time to review the upcoming two weeks to make sure you are giving yourself plenty of time to plan ahead for any big events.
2. Prioritizing Tasks to Reach Your Goals
Now that you are keeping track of what you need to get done, the next step is focusing on your most important tasks and getting to work! Tools like Todo.ly can help you to filter your to-do lists so you can concentrate on tasks that are due immediately. You can also switch to other projects, which allows you to spend a certain amount of time on one subject before smoothly transitioning to another. Speaking of which, 30/30 allows you to set exactly 30 minutes to work on a subject followed by a 30-minute break. If you need a little more pizzazz to get your attention, try EpicWin: it turns your to-do list into a gaming adventure!
3. Minimizing distractions
Minimizing Distractions in your study environment is essential in order for you to maximize your productivity, but it can be pretty hard to “unplug” when you’re using your laptop and other devices to study and do your work. Programs like Freedom lets you sign up your devices and specific sites (or the entire Internet, if you choose) to block for a small monthly fee, but there are many free alternatives, too, such as LeechBlock for Firefox. If you really can’t take a breather from your social activity, try Coach.me, which allows you to reach out to other users and professional tutors for help with your studies (and keeps the focus on productivity). Aren’t convinced you need to free yourself of web distractions? Try RescueTime. It will log your daily web activity, including time spent on each website, and report back to you. Most people are astonished by how little time they spend working each day!
Even the most productive students will have to reschedule plans with other students or friends. As you plan and review your time each day, be sure to communicate these changes as far in advance as you can so that these other folks have time to rearrange their schedules, too. Apps like Mailbox (from Dropbox) can help make sending these emails even easier!
Addinionally, check out and put into practice our 11 time management tips for studying and learning as productively as possible.