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Academic Support & Access Center

Questions?

  • Academic Support & Access Center
    202-885-3360
    Fax: 202-885-1042
    asac@american.edu
    Mary Graydon Center, Room 243

    Monday-Thursday 9:00a.m. - 7:00p.m. Friday 9:00a.m. - 5:00p.m.

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Time Management

               

There are 168 hours each week. With classes, activities, study, and free time, planning becomes essential to get things done. A few time management tools of your choosing can help you organize your time efficiently.

Top Ten Tips for Time Management

1.       Look at the big picture

  • Mark the due dates for your tests, projects, and papers on the Semester at a Glance Calendar 
  • Don't forget to review your calendar frequently to help in planning your week. 
  • Getting an early start on big projects or studying ahead for an exam can actually reduce the overall amount of time you spend and can ease stress.

2.      Figure out what a week looks like

  • Complete the 168 Hours a Week calendar
  • Look at the time left over and analyze how you might want to use it. While you may want to leave some time blank, label some of it as leisure time and some as study time. 
  • For most classes, anticipate spending about three hours outside of class for every one hour spent in class. 
  • Take advantage of small chunks of time between classes to accomplish small tasks. 
  • Aim to study the same amount of time each week to avoid fluctuations and cramming!

3.      Keep your plan in sight

  • Display your schedule and calendars (leave them spread out) in a prominent place such as a bulletin board above your desk.

4.      Make a List

  • Each night, consult your schedule, calendars and syllabi to make a list of what you are going to do the next day.
  • List your study commitments first, beginning with the assignment that is causing you the most anxiety.
  • Be concrete. "Work on 30 pg. paper" seems insurmountable. "Read assignment for paper, make app't. w/prof. to discuss topic & go to lib. to check sources" seems and is more manageable.
  • List the trivia in your life (do the laundry, get a birthday card) at the bottom of the list.
    • If you do the bottom of the list before you do the top, you are procrastinating.

5.      Be Flexible

  • Some days things don't happen as we plan. 
  • Avoid "a-schedule-never-works-for-me-anyway" thinking and to plan for a more productive day tomorrow. 
  • Keep in mind that even when best plans fail, the day may offer a few unexpected moments to accomplish something.  
    • Missing the shuttle, for example, may mean you have a few extra moments to check the library's database for a source or to flip through your notecards for your exam.

6.      Be Realistic

  • When planning to study or write a paper consider all the elements that go into a successful assignment. 
  • How long will it take you to do each step? 
    • For peace of mind, it is better to overestimate how long a project will take you. This way, if you get it done more quickly than expected, you won't feel stressed or rushed.

7.      Break down big assignments

  • This is key.
  • Break down big assignments into manageable steps or parts and assign interim deadlines to them. 
  • Try to be as specific as possible. 
    • The first step in writing a paper might be "read the assignment sheet carefully" or "do a quick search of the library database to see how much information there is on Topics A and B to help me decide which to write on."
  • Even a paper's sections can be viewed as smaller tasks: a 20-page paper might really be four 4- to 5-pagers with an introduction and conclusion.
  • Seeing projects in specific manageable steps or parts can also help reduce stress and procrastination.

8. Create your optimal study conditions

  • Consider the time and place in which you are studying. 
    • Does the location allow you to focus and minimize distractions? 
    • Are you working on your most difficult tasks during your "biological prime time"?
  • Keep in mind that it will take longer to do something when you are tired physically and mentally. 
  • It takes nearly 50% longer to do a task at night than during the day. 
  • 30-50 minutes is generally the amount of time most people can concentrate before needing a quick break.

9. When studying, use brain-friendly strategies

  • Reviewing or re-learning information takes less time than initial learning and is less likely to be forgotten. 
  • Review not only helps you retain information, but it also helps you learn new information more efficiently by allowing you to connect new to previously learned information. 
  • Reviewing notes and previewing a chapter before lecture, for example, prepare your brain to take in and organize information.

10. Ask for help when you need it

  • When you are unsure how to approach a task consult the people and the resources available to you 
    • Professor's office hours
    • Reference librarians
    • Fellow classmates
    • An ASAC peer tutor

Semester at a Glance

Use this calendar to get a view of the whole semester. Mark your tests, projects and papers on the page to get a handle on your time.

Semester at a Glance