Using time efficiently involves setting little goals to achieve your big ones. This hand out give you steps to look at the "big picture" and then narrow down your requirements into smaller and manageable tasks.
Follow these six steps and learn how to really control your life using a 1) Course Requirement Worksheet, 2) Assignment List, 3) Master Schedule, 4) Weekly Schedule, 5) Daily "To Do" List, 6) Semester Calendar.
Step 1. Complete Course Requirement Work Sheets for each of your classes at the beginning of the semester.
- Make a copy for each course you are taking.
- Examine your syllabus for each class for any information provided there.
- Ask instructors for any missing information either in class or after class.
WHY: The course Requirement Work Sheet provides a format for collecting the information you need to plan your semester.
Step 2. Prepare an Assignment List for all of your courses for the entire semester.
- List all of your course work for the semester.
- Fill in each specific assignment in small units which will fit as closely as possible into a 50 minute block of time by breaking long-term assignments, like papers, into sub-parts which are listed separately. (e.g., 1) develop topic; 2) library search; 3) outline; 4) first draft; 5) second draft; 6) type). List all readings.
- Estimate how long you expect each activity to take, then double it. As you improve your time management, you will probably improve your estimate of how long tasks will take.
- List the dates when assignments (or sub-parts of assignments) should be completed. Helpful tip - Consider working backward from the due date to help you estimate how much time you will need for each part.
WHY: Completing the Assignment List provides you with the specific things which you need to do during the semester and a timetable for completing them.
Step 3. Fill out a Master Schedule (see example on page 2) that contains all of the fixed or regular activities which you expect to remain the same from week to week for the entire semester.
- Enter your course schedule.
- Enter other routine meetings and responsibilities (e.g., work, church, etc.)
- Enter routine mealtime, travel time, sleep, exercise, laundry, etc.
- Enter regular times for recreation (social hobbies, athletics, private time.)
WHY: By programming your time you will gain more time. This can be done in two ways; first, by doing a job in a focused and concentrated way you use less time than in the past, and second, by using leftover blocks of time that are normally wasted. By recording your fixed activities, you can visualize available blocks of time.
Step 4. Construct a Weekly Schedule (see example, page 3). You are now ready to use your Master Schedule as a base for your weekly schedule. (Be sure you make enough copies for the whole semester.)
- Plan your activities in time blocks of 50 minutes, followed by a 10 minute break.
- Plug your study times into your schedule using your most alert times of the day for studying.
- For a lecture-type class, use time blocks immediately after the class to keep material fresh in your mind.
- For a recitation-type class (i.e., a foreign language) use time blocks immediately before the class to keep material fresh in your mind.
- Prioritize your most important activities into your schedule first to enable you to get them done on time. Start early.
- Use your schedule to allow for 8 hours of sleep a night, and adequate time for eating a well-balanced diet. Both are vital for maximum efficiency during the day.
- Start by allowing at least 2 hours of study for every hour of class time. Then adjust accordingly to master your material, not just cover it.
- After trying your schedule, make the necessary adjustments to create the best, and most workable schedule for you. Some students do best with a detailed weekly schedule, or a more simplified list of things to do, or one in between. Your revision is your key to an effective schedule of living. Fit this idea to your personal style.
Step 5. Make a daily "To Do" List. This list can be the real secret to your success if you do it every day. Some people end the day by listing tasks to do the next day, while others prefer to make a "to do" list in the morning. A 3 x 5 card that fits into a pocket for easy and frequent reference works very well. Mark the activities that have a high priority today and will require some special attention. Cross each item off as it is completed during the day. Pay more attention to those marked as a higher priority. Don't go for the higher percentage of tasks (that usually require less time) because you may end with a lower effectiveness level by accomplishing only your lower priorities. Remember, completing your list is not as important as making the best use of your time during the day.
Step 6. Make a Semester Calendar. This is a valuable method of visualizing upcoming events and responsibilities (i.e., exam dates, project dates and meeting dates, etc.). Keep it in a visible place. Dont be tempted to overfill it.
From Texas Women's University Counseling Center: http://www.twu.edu/o-sl/counseling/SH067.html.
Last Modified: February 10, 2005