Time Management Tips

Various Math problems are written out on white scratch paper. A calculator is next to it and a pencil lies on top of the paper.

In order to be successful in your Math course, you will need to attend class and study at least two hours per week outside of class for each hour in class. The following time management tips are a good starting point.

Let's do the Math: If you are taking a 5-unit Math class, then you will need to spend 5 + 2 x 5 = 15 hours per week on your Math. This is a minimum amount of time if you want to learn the material and pass the course.

There are 7 x 24 = 168 hours in each week. If you sleep 8 x 7 = 56 hours per week; eat 3 x 7 =21 hours per week, that leaves 91 hours left. Do you have a job? Subtract those hours from the 91. Do you go shopping, take showers, have other social obligations or are taking other classes? Subtract those hours as well.

Somehow, you need to fit in your 15 hours for Math into your week. Therefore, developing and using good time-management tips is essential.

Goals of Time Management

  • To be able to have control over your life - manage your time, don't let it manage you!
  • To be healthier and happier (less stress.)

There are numerous books devoted to the topic of time management. Some suggested resources appear at the end of this discussion. In the meantime, wise students will do the following to help manage their time as a student.

Seven Suggestions for Effectively Managing Your Time 

  1. Get organized!
    • Use time saving tools: appointment calendars, "to do" lists, e-mail, answering machines, file folders, etc.
    • Have an organized workplace (don't waste time constantly looking for your work.)
    • Use your appointment calendar for everything, including listing study time.
    • Use "to do" lists for both long-term and for each day/week. 
  2. Plan ahead (schedule it and it will happen!)
    • Determine how long your tasks will take (do this before agreeing to take on a task.)
    • Consider whether any activities can be combined.
    • Determine if big tasks can be broken down into smaller tasks that may be easier to schedule (such as studying for exams and visiting the library as part of an assignment to write a term paper.)
  3. Prioritize your tasks.
    • Use an A-B-C rating system for items on your "to do" lists with A items being highest priority.
    • Set goals for both the short term and long term as to what you want to accomplish.
    • Look at all of your "to do"s to estimate the time requirement and whether additional resources will be needed to accomplish them (if yes, schedule time to obtain those resources.)
    • Don't postpone the small tasks (a sense of accomplishment is good and overlooked small tasks can become larger tasks.) 
  4. Avoid overload
    • Include time for rest, relaxation, sleep, eating, exercise, and socializing in your schedule.
    • Take short breaks during study and work periods.
    • Don't put everything off until the last minute (for example, don't cram for exams.)
    • Learn to say "no" when appropriate and to negotiate better deadlines when appropriate. 
  5. Practice Effective Study Techniques.
    • Have an appropriate study environment.
    • Split large tasks into more manageable tasks.
    • Read for comprehension, rather than just to get to the end of the chapter.
    • Be prepared to ask questions as they come up during study, rather than waiting until just before an exam.
    • Do the most difficult work first, perhaps breaking it up with some easier tasks.
    • Don't wait until the last minute to complete your projects.
    • Read the syllabus as soon as you get it and note all due dates (and "milestone" times) on your calendar.
    • Be a model student! (be attentive and participative in class,punctual, prepared, and eager to learn.) 
  6. Stay flexible.
    • The unexpected happens (sickness, car troubles, etc.); you need to be able to fit it into your schedule.
    • Know how to rearrange your schedule when necessary (so it doesn't manage you - you manage it).
    • Know who to ask for help when needed. 
  7. Have a vision (why are you doing all of this?)
    • Don't forget the "big picture" - why are you doing the task - is it important to your long-term personal goals?
    • Have and follow a personal mission statement (personal and career). (Are your activities ultimately helping you achieve your goals?)
    • Know what is important to you. (What do you value most?)
    • Have a positive attitude.

[from Annette Nellen]

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