Effective Time Management for a Busy Schedule
1. Write down everything you need to do.
When you see what you need to do in writing, you have a better idea about what to expect in a day, week, or month, and how to prepare for them. This way, you won’t forget what needs to be done, either.
After you write down your tasks, make sure to leave your list where it is easiest for you to find. You can also take a picture and make it a home screen on your phone.
2. Check your to-do list and regular weekly schedule. Think about what to prioritize.
Now that you see all your plans or projects in front of you, start sorting what is important. You may want to plan for a day, week, or month, depending on your schedule.
You may want to plan for at least 2 weeks when you have important tests or assignments due around the same time.
For example, here is what your regular weekly schedule can look like:
|Work – 8:00~4:00||Classes – 2:00~7:00||Classes – 10:00~2:00
Work – 4:00~8:00
|Work – 9:00~12:00||Free||Free||Classes – 9:00~3:30|
For week 5, you have 4 things to do on top of your school and work:
1. an assignment from your accounting class due on Tuesday (10% worth of final grade),
2. a friend who is visiting Vancouver for two weeks and would like to meet up with you,
3. a group project for your marketing class due on Saturday (15% worth of final grade), and
4. a concert on Thursday that you’ve been waiting for.
All seem very important to you.
Let’s change the order of these activities, when you consider school as the most important of all activities:
1. a group project for your marketing class due on Saturday (15% worth of final grade)
2. an assignment from your accounting class due on Tuesday (10% worth of final grade,
3. a concert on Thursday that you’ve been waiting for
4. a friend who is visiting Vancouver for two weeks and would like to meet up with you.
3. Combine your to-do list and regular schedule. Plan ahead!
In time management, it is extremely important to plan ahead. It is equally important that you stick with your to-do lists, and plan accordingly. If you don’t create a plan for yourself, you are more likely to procrastinate. If you procrastinate, you will need to rush through everything at the end.
To avoid the stress of procrastination, break down different projects into smaller chunks and assign one task per project per day.
Let’s use the to-do list and schedule in Section 2, and practice planning weeks 4 and 5.
It’s Monday in week 4. You arrived at campus a little early because your buses came earlier than usual. You have some time before your class. Now is perfect time for you to plan ahead so that you won’t be stressed out too much in week 5!
Here are specific tasks to complete for both weeks.
1. Contact your classmates before your class on Saturday to brainstorm your group project for your marketing class. The earlier the better!
2. Start working on your project. Do parts that you can do on your own.
3. Finish at least half of your accounting assignment on Thursday or Friday.
4. Attend all classes. You want to be on time especially for your accounting and marketing classes because your instructors may give you some hints and suggestions.
5. Go to work.
6. Contact your friend and tell them your availability, based on what your next week looks like.
7. Do house chores like cooking and laundry.
1. Finish your assignment by Monday. If you need to submit papers to your instructor, make sure to print them out on campus by Monday while you are there for class. Give yourself extra time as many students rush to use the printers at the very last moment and you may have to wait.
2. Finish most of your group project by Wednesday so that you can enjoy your concert on Thursday.
3. Connect with your classmates about your group project regularly so that everyone stays up to date.
4. Enjoy the concert on Thursday.
5. Attend your classes. Do not miss classes because you are not done with your assignment or project.
6. Go to work.
7. Meet up with your friend.
8. Do house chores like cooking and laundry.
It is important to set clear and realistic deadlines or goals for yourself so that you can plan more easily.
4. Decide your rewards after you complete your projects.
When you plan your days or weeks accordingly, one way to stay motivated is to give yourself a reward or two.
In our example, your rewards for completing your assignment and group project are meeting up with a friend who is visiting Vancouver for 2 weeks and attending a concert you have been waiting for.
You can also have small and extra rewards before you complete all of your projects. After you submit your assignment on Tuesday, treat yourself with your favourite ice cream. Play PUBG for a few hours. Do whatever makes you feel happy and motivated.
Taking a break between your schoolwork and part-time job is very important as well, as it can be overwhelming to have a lot to think about at the same time. Try reminding yourself not to overwork or stress out about your workload. Ask for help when it’s necessary.
What are useful tools for time management?
Consider buying an academic journal. You can get a basic one for an affordable price either online or in stores with a stationery section. Use your journal to organize your class schedule, assignments, work shifts and other personal time easily. It also has weekly pages where you can write down your schedule in more details. Not only can you write down due dates for your assignments or exams, but you can also write down study plans and to-do lists in your agenda.
Since you can carry your agenda with you wherever you go, it will be useful to have when you attend classes.
You are most likely to use your agenda once you start working full time. If you get used to using an agenda during your school year, you will develop stronger time management skills which you can apply in your future workplace.
2. Your phone
Phones can keep track of your schedule easily. This is useful when you have a tight schedule. Unlike an agenda, phones will remind you about your plans before the starting time. You can set a reminder for 1 day or a few hours before your plans when you have an upcoming event. Most phones have an app for taking notes or to-do list maker. You can also add a reminder to those.
As explored briefly in the first section, you can take a screenshot of your class schedule and make it as a home screen on your phone. That way you won’t forget your classes or important due dates.
If you use outlook or gmail, you can also check your schedule from your laptop or computer in the student lounge.
- Google keep: in addition to note pads and lists, you can add images and voice messages to your note pads. There is a feature that lets you pin your notes and lists, and they always show up at the top of your screen. You can also add reminders to each of your entries and sort them.
Since it is a google product, you can use it on your phone, tablet and laptop.
- The Learning Portal: this website is offered by colleges in Ontario, and Cambrian College is one of them. This website is free and has many videos, worksheets and other resources related to your college success as well.
- Focus To-do – Pomodoro Timer & To-do list (for Android and iPhone): this app lets you keep track of your to-do list and helps you accomplish your tasks by dividing your workload into smaller segments of concentration. Choose the amount of time you want to focus on your project, and the app will time you. Do not allow yourself any distractions during this period. Once the timer rings, reward yourself with a break before you start your next session.