Within the first few days of starting college, many students quickly learn that managing their time is one of the most challenging -- and difficult -- aspects of being in school. With so much to do and keep track of, strong time management skills can make all the difference.
1. Get -- and use -- a calendar. It can be a paper calendar. It can be your cell phone. It can be a PDA. No matter what kind it is, though, make sure you have one.
2. Write down everything. Write down everything in one place. (Having multiple calendars just gives you more to do amidst an already tight schedule.) Schedule when you plan to sleep, when you are going to do your laundry, when you're going to call your parents. The crazier your schedule gets, the more important this becomes.
3. Schedule time to relax. Don't forget to schedule in time to relax and breathe. Just because your calendar goes from 7:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. doesn't mean you can.
4. Keep trying new systems. If your cell phone calendar isn't big enough, buy a paper one. If your paper one keeps getting torn, try a PDA. If you have too many things written down each day, try color-coding to help simplify. Very few college students make it through their programs without some kind of calendaring system; keep trying until you find one that works for you.
5. Allow for flexibility. Things inevitably come up that you weren't expecting. You may not have known that your roommate's birthday is this week, and you certainly don't want to miss the celebrations! Leave room in your calendar so that you can move things around a little when needed.
6. Plan ahead. Do you have a large research paper due the last week of the semester? Work backward in your calendar and figure out how much time you need to write it, how much time you'll need to research it, and how much time you'll need to pick your topic. If you think you'll need six weeks for the entire project, work backward from the due date and schedule the time into your calendar before it's too late.
7. Plan for the unexpected. Sure, you just might be able to pull off two papers and a presentation during midterms week. But what happens if you catch the flu the night you're supposed to be pulling the all-nighter? Expect the unexpected so you don't have to spend more unplanned time trying to fix your mistakes.
8. Schedule rewards in. Your midterms week is a nightmare, but it will all be over Friday by 2:30. Schedule a fun afternoon and a nice dinner out with some friends; your brain will need it, and you can relax knowing that you're not supposed to be doing anything else.