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Time Management 101 for Busy Students

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UPRM chapter.

Students face many challenges throughout their years at university and time management tools are key to navigate those challenges, as well as find a work-life balance. Most of us are involved in extracurriculars, athletics or have part-time jobs on top of a full course load, which can be overwhelming if not approached correctly. Effective time management skills can be responsible for decreased stress levels, increased productivity, self-confidence and self-reliance, and goal achieving. 

Before tackling the art of time-management, you must first establish your goals and put priorities in place in order to reach success. This allows for more time dedicated to what matters most to you at the moment. Now, we move on to the tasks that constitute those priorities. 

For example, if your goal is to get a 4.0 GPA this semester, your classes are a priority and the tasks that constitute that priority are exams, going to class or lectures, assignments, getting to know your peers and professors, etc. 

In order to achieve all that, you must organize your time accordingly with the tools provided in the next few paragraphs. 

 An important part of it all is to set boundaries that protect your personal time, work time and academic time. If the circumstances are appropriate and necessary, say no to other commitments that are not aligned with your goals nor with your priorities.

In order to protect your priorities:

  • Use time blocking to allocate specific time slots for studying, attending classes, participating in extracurricular activities, important meetings or games and practices
  • Use an agenda to list specific academic tasks including due dates, study plans, assignments, etc. Use the syllabus provided by the professor to write out all important due dates and exam dates for the upcoming semester. This way, you’ll be able to visualize busier weeks and have enough time to complete your assignments and study ahead of time. 
  • In order to do this, block out all your classes, games, practices, recurring meetings and shifts if you also hold a part-time job. Carve out time for taking care of your physical health. Include this personal time in your calendar to ensure it is prioritized! Find breaks and time after responsibilities for studying. Make sure to plan this according to the time you tend to be most productive or clear minded. 

Tip: use Google Calendar or sync all your devices so that your calendar is easily accessible on your laptop, phone or tablet. 

  • Minimize distractions during your study session and set yourself for success. Make yourself comfortable and set up an intentional space for studying. For you, this might be at your desk with comfy clothes and a candle lit or sitting at a café where you’re surrounded by people working – do whatever works best for you. Incorporate breaks to avoid burnout, and instead of doing longer study sessions, try to study a bit every day, so tasks don’t pile up and are easier to handle. But sometimes no matter how much we prepare, there are weeks where time seems to be fleeting and your schedule feels impossible. A good tip for when you feel overwhelmed and it’s hard to find the time for everything on your calendar is to find “transitional time”, whether that be on the bus, walking on the treadmill or outside, in between classes, etc. 
  • Seek out resources, such as tutoring or academic advisors if you’re struggling academically or seek support from friends or family when dealing with personal issues that may be intervening with your peace of mind. 
  • Delegate responsibilities and accept help when offered whether that be with group study sessions or sharing responsibilities with other members of academic associations or clubs that you’re part of.

While your goals and academic success are important, life is full of the unexpected, so try to keep an open mind for when situations arise that intervene with your schedule or routines. Being good at time-management also equals flexibility, so when something unexpected arises, it won’t derail all your plans. Adjust your schedule to maintain order and harmony in your life. This may sometimes mean prioritizing your mental and physical health, which are key players in accomplishing your goals. Maintain a healthy sleeping schedule, prioritize physical movement and exercise, eat well and learn to manage your stress. Also, spend time enjoying hobbies, socialize, relax and indulge in the things that make you happy.

 In short, mastering time management is not only a skill but a mindset that allows for a balance in your life for you to achieve your goals, enjoy your life, grow your self-confidence and have some flexibility for when the unexpected happens. Important aspects of it are establishing priorities, goals and boundaries that work in harmony for a mutual outcome. Time blocking with online calendars or agendas, minimizing distractions and setting up an intended study space are some tools that allow you to work more efficiently and in an organized manner. Incorporate breaks to avoid burnout and seek out support when needed. You can do this!

Patricia Sánchez is a writer for Her Campus at the Mayagüez Chapter. Currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Political Science, she brings her passion for writing to cover diverse topics. Patricia is deeply involved on campus, participating in what others may describe as too many extracurriculars, but the sense of importance and friendships she has gained throughout those experiences are invaluable to her. In addition to her role at Her Campus, Patricia serves as a Functional Diversity Student Assistant at the OSEIRUM office at the university. Her writing extends beyond the campus, as she has a knack for crafting lifestyle pieces and insightful commentary on current events, blending her love for writing with her political science background. Outside of her academic and professional pursuits, Patricia finds joy in playing racquet sports like tennis and pickleball, staying active at the gym, doing pilates or cozying up with a good book. A Taylor Swift enthusiast and pop culture aficionado, she enjoys staying informed and engaging in discussions about the latest trends. Balancing her academic, extracurricular, and personal interests, Patricia also values quality time with loved ones. Whether it's cooking up a storm in the kitchen or delving into a good book, she cherishes moments that add depth and richness to her college experience.