This is my 7th year working with college students, ranging from being a student employee working with peers to it being my full-time professional job, and every year I see students struggle in different areas. The area I see the most consistently is time management. The irony is, for me as a student and student worker I also struggled a lot with time management. It was not until my senior year of undergrad that I finally figured out a system that worked for me, and it took a lot of exploration. I tried planners, I tried outlook/google calendars, I tried reminder apps, I tried wall calendars, you name it and I probably tried a form of it!
Today I'd like to share a resource that helped me tremendously in college when it came to "figuring it out" in time management. Below is a link to a free downloadable pdf version and a free downloadable Microsoft Excel file version of a 24/7 calendar split up by 30 minute increments. Below those I will go into detail on how I used this with other methods to get organized and manage both my studies, my jobs, volunteer hours, and student organizations.
During a staff meeting as a Community Advisor, my supervisors did an exercise with this. They passed out this type of document, and had us define different tasks as various colors. We created a color key and defined different forms of time spent:
Our supervisors then gave us the task to use a blank version of the document and to fill it out with everything we actually did for a week. We were to record all of it, and bring both sheets back to staff meeting the next week. One week later, I could see how I was actually spending my time. I was in tears after that week, running around campus doing various things and not taking many breaks. Some of my team was asked to look at time wasted, and where they could improve their time management. But myself and a few others were asked to look at how much was necessary, and to try to find a way to make our weeks more manageable. This involved adding in time for self-care, allocating time to get to various locations, and potentially saying no to new opportunities that we didn't have time for.
For the rest of the semester I used this paper calendar template every week to try to find ways to better improve my time. Some weeks it was by taking "wasted" time and channeling it into productivity, where other weeks it was making sure I gave myself enough time to get necessary sleep. Now I am able to manage myself through a virtual Outlook Calendar, but I am significantly less busy then I was as a student. If you are in school and struggling to keep up with all of your assignments, projects, work, etc. Try this method out. It may not work for everyone, but it can certainly give you an idea of how to balance your time. You may even go more specific with it by adding in what assignments you do when, so that you can get an idea of the time needed to properly prepare for each class. I hope you find this helpful!
I am a student affairs professional, an amateur chef, and an adventurer at heart.
Want an email every time I post? Click the Subscribe button below!