Succeeding in college is about turning in work, following instructions, and doing it consistently. The key is to submit it on time.
A full-time course load can take up to 40 hours a week to complete. How do students manage all that work without forgetting something important? The answer is a detailed study plan. A study plan is created with a to do list and a day planner. The trickiest part is constantly checking, reworking, and following though with the study plan.
If you can can show a potential employeer your day planner and describe how you do time managment well, there is a good chance you will be hired!
How To Do It?
Time management is one of the hardest elements of college life. Many students rebel against the structure of a day planner. However, if you are juggling several classes, and every hour needs to be productive, it is the best method for productivity. The process is simple: break tasks into smaller pieces and hold yourself accountable to completing work each day.
Here is a good template, as you learn to schedule your time. To begin, you will need a calendar or day planner.
Step 1: Write a to-do list, and prioritize each item. Break the large and most difficult tasks into smaller tasks.
Step 2: Write beside each task how long it will take to complete it. Usually one to two hours works well. Remember to overestimate to give plenty of time.
Step 3: Write the time you will work and the task you will complete into your day planner.
Build a Study Plan
A study plan is created by identifing tasks and placing them in a day planner. This study plan will change constantly. Therefore, always use a pencil, so you can erase.
You will be opening your day planner often throughout the day. Use a paper clip to mark your place. This way you can easily open your planner to the right date. Mark off all completed days and tasks to see your progress. This is a critical step in motivating yourself to complete the next task.
Creating a study plan is very similar to working a puzzle. It is helpful to plan ahead two weeks. The key is to work backwards from the due date to develop your study plan.
Start At the Beginning
The school provides a free calendar to every student at the beginning of each semester.
Create a routine by studying the same subject, in the same place, at the same time each day. This creates a habit, which builds accountability, and helps prevent procrastination.
At the beginning of each semester, use your syllabi to write in all upcoming due dates, and other important dates. This provides the framework to build your big picture strategy for the course, and develop a realistic study plan. This is especially important around mid-terms and finals.
Electronic Calendar Systems
Electronic calendars work well for planning, and there are many apps available. However, it is recommended you start with a paper calendar, and then transfer your information to an electronic system.
Microsoft Outlook or Google Calendar work well for setting reminders and planning your time. Learn more about the Microsoft Outlook Email Client that includes Outlook Calendar for HCC email. This can also be synced to your smart phone.
Having goals drives performance, improves life, and increases happiness. Having tangible goals increases confidence and feelings of control, which are critical for success as a college student (Messersmith and Schulenberg, 2010).
When setting goals:
Have accountability: Tell other people about your goal.
Reward yourself for making progress toward your goal.
Start small. Nothing motivates more students than seeing progress. Be successful in something little; then be motivated to do the next step.
Write goals to motivate success, and record your progress.
Be ambitious: You are capable of more than you think you are. Satisfaction is higher from completing difficult challenges.
Set high stakes. You are more likely to reach your goal if you have real consequences and rewards.
Be specific. The more specific the goal, the less likely you will procrastinate. Set the specific goal with a specific time. Then most importantly, set when you will do it.
Be a life-long learner. No one will succeed at every goal, but if you are constantly working to get better, even if you don’t reach your goal, you succeeded.
Prepare for setbacks. There will be failure. Let it make you better.
Make a step-by-step plan. Break goals down into smaller pieces, and then cross them off as you complete them to motivate you to not give up.
Messersmith, E. E., & Schulenberg, J. E. (2010). Goal attainment, goal striving, and wellbeing during the transition to adulthood: A ten-year U.S. national longitudinal study. In S. Shulman & J.-E. Nurmi (Eds.), The role of goals in navigating individual lives during emerging adulthood. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 130, 27–40.
Write a To-Do List
To-do lists are a very effective way to manage time and motivate progress. The most important step in buliding a to-do list is assigning a time for each task.
When writing a to-do list:
Prioritize important items.
Break items into small pieces.
Estimate the amount of time it takes to complete each task, and insert the item in a day planner.
Build accountability. Put the tasks into a day planner and know when to ask for help.
It is important to overestimate the amount of time each task will take. Also, to-do lists will change constantly. That is why it is important to recreate your list each morning, and revamp your calendar.
Make sure you write in pencil, so you can erase a lot. Write a to-do list for the entire week to get the big picture, and then write your to-do list for each day.
Increase the quality of time you spend on each item by:
Saying “no” more than you say “yes.”
Reducing distractions from people, places, and things.
Turning off your email and smart phone, which are big time wasters.
Focusing on the most important task.
Focusing on the hardest task first.
The goal of a to-do list is to create a realistic study plan. Remember, success breeds success, so make sure your tasks are small and lead to a feeling of accomplishment.
Procrastination is putting important tasks off until a later time. Usually, procrastination occurs when the task is not fun to complete.
To avoid procrastination:
Assign a time and place you will complete the unwanted task.
Build in accountability such as working with a partner or a tutor.
Start by completing an easy first step.
Sometimes, getting started can be the hardest part. Once you begin, the task becomes easier. You can tell yourself, "just do one math problem" or "just take you notes out of the book bag," and that can be enough to get you started.