How to Effectively Manage Time While Pursuing a Degree
Work/Life balance is hard for most students to master. This can seem close to impossible when you are pursuing a degree, especially when the teachers are overloading schedules with heavy reading assignments, homework, and projects. Sometimes, you may find yourself silently questioning the professor: “Don’t you know I have a life outside of school?” Many people want to learn how to manage their time better; however, this is impossible for anyone to do. We can’t manage our 24 hours and end up with 48 hours; we can only manage our actions! Therefore, we are going to give you three tips on how you can accomplish this with ease.
Proactive Academic Calendar Management
Many people attempt to manage their full calendar on their smartphone or tablet. However, very few things are as effective as a good old-fashioned calendar. It is possible for a student to purchase an academic calendar at their local office store. You will have a choice between a wall or pad calendar; either way, the calendar should either hang over or be placed on your work station. Important: Only academic items go on this calendar!
In order to be a successful student, it is recommended to spend approximately 2-3 hours planning for your upcoming semester. Therefore, on this preferably gigantic calendar, it would be wise to gather all your syllabi and copy the information onto the calendar. Also, get different highlighters and create a color key; for example, use a red, yellow, orange, and blue highlighters for exams, projects, homework, and extra credit opportunities respectively. After you have finished a day of work, you can use a black sharpie and cross the day off with a large black “X” – this will allow you to feel a sense of progress as you move through the semester. This will also let you know if you are ahead or behind the class.
Create a “Academic Work Ethic” Journal
Journaling is scientifically proven to be a “keystone habit”; or a habit that can transform many other aspects of your life. The National Institutes of Health held a weight loss study, and found that obese subjects who regularly wrote in their food journal lost twice as much weight as the rest of the subjects. They started using their journals to plan future meals and which lead to them eating the healthy foods in which they had written down.
Journaling can be applied to any aspect of life, at the beginning of each day, list your goals, what you want to accomplish and what you want your day to look like. At the end of each day, reflect on the day; write down what you got done, what you will do differently tomorrow, and how you can be more effective with your study habits.
Discover a “Productivity Hack”
There really is no trick to hard work. At the end of the day, you just have build-up your willpower, suck it up, and get to work. The job of a “productivity hack” is not to replace the need for willpower and effort – it is there to change focus to one actionable step. We’ll explain:
This technique is very simple to implement and explain; and it can have tremendous effects on your productivity. It is as simple as 25 minutes of work, and 5 minutes of break time. Each 25-5 minute span is known as a Pomodoro, and when you are proactively studying for your classes, you can allocate one pomodoro to each subject you are studying. After a 4 pomodoro’s, you can have a 15-20 minute break. In essence, you just have to start the “timer” and begin working.
David Allen’s Getting Things Done
Commonly referred to as GTD, this type of productivity system is directed at helping the person achieve a “flow state”. That is, a state of relaxed concentration, which is something that tends to only happen to elite athletes and performers – however, people can find it in their workplace as well. His theory is this: the reason why people can’t achieve flow state is because they have a ton of things on their to-do list, so they get overwhelmed when trying to manage everything and end up getting nothing done.
This can all be side-stepped by creating a system of collecting, processing and organizing information. In other words, when your brain tells you that something needs to be done – you will have a system to write that down and to come back to it when the time is right.