A College Student’s Guide to Time Management (Guest Post)

Sam Greaves is a writer who specializes in topics related to college life, study hacks and productivity. He writes for Classof1, which is one of the largest providers of online study help for college students.

“I wish I had more time….”

If you haven’t used this line in college, then I’m pretty sure you’re doing well in the time management area.  But for those of you who are struggling to keep things going within the limited time available, this post is for you!

I could write about the plethora of time management techniques that you could use to manage your time. However, let’s start by looking at the basic rules of time management. You can use these rules to optimize the way you’re spending your time, and to create your own time management techniques.

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Rule 1: Understand the Objective

The first rule is to understand the purpose or the objective of all the tasks that you do (or need to do). This will help you understand why you should do it. And if there are multiple ways of doing it, this will help you determine the best way to reach the objective.

Rule 2: Prioritize

The problem with tasks is that you almost always have more than one! Especially as a college student, you have to be constantly juggling between lots of things. The best way to make the optimum use of your time is to do tasks based on priority.
You should be able to rank your tasks based on the importance or the urgency of the task. So when you have to do your school work, the tougher assignments or the ones with the closer deadlines should almost always have the higher priority.

Rule 3: Split into Smaller Sub-tasks

It’s best to divide and conquer your work, i.e., split big tasks into smaller sub-tasks. Organizing your work into smaller tasks makes it easier and achievable. Sometimes the massiveness of a task can make it daunting and you may put it off for a more favorable time. Whereas the smaller sub task can make the whole thing seem more approachable.  Dividing the task into smaller units will ensure that you’re constantly progressing in your task!

Rule 4: Take Them One at a Time

Although students like to be proud of their multitasking abilities, studies have shown that multitasking is a weakness, not strength. At any given time, two tasks are the maximum our brain can handle. So it’s detrimental if you try to overload your brain with more than two tasks at a time.
You should always plan to ensure that you’re doing just one task at any given moment. This will make you more effective and efficient in dealing with what you’re doing. Since you’re not distracted with multiple tasks, you will be performing at your highest potential.

Rule 5: Be Relentless

“With self-discipline most anything is possible.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Almost any habit that you want to build requires persistence and self-discipline, and it’s no different with time management. While in college, many times you may have to make the hard choice between doing the task you want to do and the task you should do! So being relentless in following your plan is crucial for the success of your time management efforts.

Rule 6: Track and Control

Last but not the least, you should make a note of all the tasks that you plan to do. This will make it easier for you to constantly be aware of the tasks you have pending at any given time. Tracking your tasks also serves another, more important purpose of being able to monitor your progress. This will help you make changes wherever necessary, and plan in advance for any impending tasks.

Now that you’ve learned about the basic rules of time management, you can get started on making the most of your college life. If you’re not satisfied with just the basics and would like to learn more about time management and productivity, I would highly recommend the following titles:

  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  2. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen

Photo Credit: gadl cc


Learn how to study quickly and efficiently.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

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The Secrets of Top Students Book Signing

Photo of Columbia University, courtesy of InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr

Photo of Columbia University, courtesy of InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr

I’m excited to announce that I’m doing a book signing for The Secrets of Top Students at the Columbia University Bookstore on Thursday, September 19, at 6 pm. I’ll also be sharing some of my top study tips for high school and college students!  This is a great event for parents and students in the NYC area.

The Columbia University Bookstore is located at 2922 Broadway, Lerner Hall (114th St.), New York, NY 10027. Hope to see you there!

Do’s and Don’ts for How to Focus While Studying (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Katherine Laramie.
Katherine is a freelance writer who lives in Orlando, Florida.

Your textbook is open, your notes are out and a highlighter rests in your hand. You have an upcoming exam and the best of intentions to prepare for it. After reading one paragraph, your mind starts to wander and somewhere between understanding “fundamental visual development principles” and “thematic and design ideas using visual media,” you’re on Facebook, and it’s not where you should be. It hasn’t even been 20 minutes, and you’re shutting that book thinking, “I’ll study tomorrow.”

In David Glenn’s essay “Procrastination in College Students is a Marker for Unhealthy Behaviors” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, procrastination is referred to as “anxiety avoidance” and “self-defeating behavior.” The article suggests that procrastinators are less worried about future success or failure, and says they experience high anxiety because of the negative feelings associated with committing to a night of doing schoolwork. If you’re guilty of postponing your studies, “wishful thinking” and “rationalizations,” then the following tips may help you improve your performance for a class or achieve that online art degree.

photo by xb3

Disassociating Anxiety from Studying & Test-Taking

Your future depends on graduating from school. Graduation depends on passing classes. Passing classes depends on high exam scores. Scoring highly on an exam depends on excellent studying skills. Ah, the anxiety sets in. Physiological stress follows. Failed attempts at studying are the end result. By eliminating the anxiety that’s associated with school work, you can eliminate subsequent negative, self-defeating feelings that disrupt your academic focus and obligations.

As you blindly stare at a power point on your laptop or gaze at a textbook, create positive associations with studying. Combat procrastination with the following tips:

  • Free your mind from external stressors, agendas and obligations.
  • Remind yourself that you’re nurturing your brain and acquiring knowledge. Embrace that you’re educating yourself. You actually want to improve your mind with this subject matter.
  • Focus less on the exam. By putting less emphasis on scoring highly, you’re alleviating yourself of pressure — and thus anxiety that pushes you to delay your studies for another day.
  • Replace rationalizations and wishful thinking. To handle the negative feelings associated with studying, you may respond by making excuses. Take accountability for your responsibilities and self-defeating behavior. Replace rationalizations, such as “I’m really tired tonight and not even retaining any information anyway,” with “I’m going to maximize my time this evening. There’s no better time than now to prepare for my upcoming exam. Cramming only stresses me out.”

Refocusing: It’s Never Too Late

Losing focus and succumbing to distractions is natural and to be expected while studying. Don’t be defeated by these moments of weakness, which can manifest into negative thoughts and abandoned studying. Take a small break, breathe and get back in the game.

Re-focus by:

  • Changing your scenery and location. If you’re at home, move to a different room. If you’re at the library, change floors and desks.
  • Drinking water. Hydrate and refresh your mind and body.
  • Playing music. The soothing and calming music of cellist Yo-Yo Ma can provide new sensory that re-energizes your studying.

Editor’s Note: My new book, The Secrets of Top Students, contains lots of advice on how to study for exams and avoid procrastination. Order it now on Amazon!


For more tips on studying and much more, order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!