Time Management Tips… from the Trenches

Written by: Jillian Yuill

I’ll never forget my university mid-term. “Film” was a popular first year class – who doesn’t like watching movies? – but, it had a reputation for being difficult to get good grades. Even though I was up-to-date on my readings and viewings, the amount of content to review before the exam overwhelmed me. I had no idea what kind of questions to expect. So, I locked myself in my bedroom for three days, and studied day and night. While I ended getting a great grade on the mid-term, I fell behind on my readings for my other classes, and spent the rest of the semester in a crash-and-burn cycle of marathon study sessions. Catching up felt like trying to keep a funnel filled with sand – even when I
topped it up, a little was coming out of the bottom.

I’m in university for the second time as a mature student, and finding my time even
more precious as I try to balance my household, family and work commitments. But if there is one lesson learned from my earlier university days, it’s that studying smarter doesn’t always mean studying harder. Here are my tried and true tips for managing your time for academic success:

Time Management Tip 1: Schedule Your Time in Advance

As the saying goes: “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. While you might not literally fail classes without sticking to a schedule, you can save yourself a lot of time and stress in the long-term by creating a weekly schedule for readings, assignments, and studying. By reviewing your syllabus at the beginning of the semester, you can plan ahead for weeks with multiple assignments or exams. Looking ahead also allows you to…

Time Management Tip 2: Stay Organized and Be Prepared

By following a pre-set schedule as best you can, you’ll be more prepared when you
arrive to class. By coming to class with your readings completed, you’ll be able to take better notes and retain more information, which means more efficient study sessions down the road. Whether you take notes by hand or with an electronic device, by keeping your notes and readings organized, you’ll also be able to…

Time Management Tip 3: Make the Most of Your Time

Making the most of your time requires some self-reflection. Maybe you work best alone,
but need to limit distractions. Others retain more information from participating in study groups. Whatever your learning style, focusing on the task at hand creates greater productivity and efficiency, allowing you to get more done. Small amounts of time can really add up – for good or bad! But if you follow Tips 1 and 2, you’ll be able to make the most of the small pieces of free time, such as during your commute or between classes.

When I first entered university, I often got so caught up in assignments and readings that I lost sight of why I was there in the first place – which was to gain the knowledge and skills that would make me employable. Effective time management will not only enhance your academic experience, but is also a skill that employers value. Time is a valuable resource that only you can dictate how it’s spent. Do yourself a favour and use it wisely!

Not sure how to create an effective study schedule? Want to join a study group? Trent University Durham’s Academic Mentoring Program offers a variety of ways to engage with your studies in a fun and meaningful way.

·       Sign-up for study groups

·       Meet with an upper year student for one-on-one mentoring

·       Discover campus resources that with assist you with your studies.

To learn more, visit the Academic Mentoring Program webpage, or contact me Jillian at academicmentor@trentu.ca

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