Spending a Valuable, Non-Renewable Resource Wisely:
Time Management

After receiving test results from midterms and other exams, students often decide that they need to develop or re-evaluate their time management skills. Time management skills need to reflect each studentís responsibilities, course requirements, and individual priorities, and each student will likely find that time demands are continually changing. Whether you are still adjusting to a freedom and lack of structure that is new to you or whether you are trying to integrate class and work schedules along with other responsibilities, it can be profitable to take a new look at the way you are spending a very valuable, non-renewable resource: your time.

The way in which you schedule your time reflects your priorities. Have you allocated enough time for eating and sleeping so that you arrive at your classes rested and alert? Have you determined when you have the least energy and the most energy, and have you decided to dedicate your high-energy times to studying? Have you scheduled social activities and time with friends so that you control the amount of time you spend on recreation, as opposed to letting it control you? Most importantly, do your test results indicate that youíre managing your time effectively?

These are just a few of the questions to ask yourself as you evaluate your time usage. The key is to work "smarter, not harder." With your test results in hand, think critically about the time youíve spent on studying. Did you lose time re-reading textbooks when your exams covered lecture notes? Could your comprehension have been improved by reviewing test material with other students? If your instructor provided a study guide, did you use it effectively to prepare for your test? Many people refer to the adage that "time is money." Given how valuable time is to college students, it makes sense to spend your time wisely and, metaphorically speaking, to get the best bargain possible.

Many students use an NIU daily calendar or some other type of planning system that helps them keep track of their responsibilities. The key to making your planner work for you is to be honest and realistic about what you can and will accomplish during your day. If itís important to you to watch television with your friends on a certain night of the week, record this intention in your planner. By being honest about how you intend to meet your social needs, you can plan adequately to meet your academic needs and keep your life in balance.

Itís helpful to develop regular study times and places. Many students discover that their residence hall rooms or apartments are great places to visit with friends and roommates but arenít always effective places to study, due to all of the tasks and distractions in those environments.

One of the quickest ways to eliminate these distractions is to find a study location where your other roles and responsibilities are not demanding your attention. As an alternative to studying in your room or apartment, consider dining halls, study lounges, the library, and other spaces both on and off campus. Make it a project to investigate the wide range of study locations available to you and choose a space that will help you maximize your study productivity. Your study time is limited, so itís important that you make the most of it.