Study Skill: Time Management

Champlain College’s academic coaching resources are at your disposal in coming up with a plan for academic success.

The exercise below is designed to help you see how much, or how little, time you have in which to attend class and complete course assignments. Don’t worry: Most students, after completing this exercise, are relieved to see that they do, in fact, have sufficient time to study diligently while maintaining a social life, eating, sleeping, and holding down a part-time job. Why, then, do so many students fall so far behind in their course work so quickly? They don’t make a plan and stick to it.

Commit the results of these calculations to the device that you use to keep track of your daily, weekly, and monthly appointments. An old-fashioned academic planner — paper pages, glued binder, the whole bit — should work wonderfully. Many electronic gadgets will also be up to this task.

TH E   N U M B E R S   D O N ‘ T   L I E   ( B U T   D O   T H E Y   S L E E P ? )

Your weekly allotment of hours:  24 hours x 7 days = 168 hours/week

Okay, so you’re dealing with 168 hours in a week.

How many hours do you need to attend class and complete assignments? Try this rough formula: # of hours spent in class per week x 3 hours = _____ hours.

How did we arrive at the figure of 3 hours? It’s a ballpark number by which some professors calibrate their course expectations. In other words, for every hour that you’re in class, you might be expected to spend roughly 3 hours reading, writing, or engaged in some other assigned task. This is a benchmark adopted by some community colleges, so expect that some Champlain College professors will require more from you. But not always. That’s the tricky part. Your time-management approach will help you navigate the difficult periods when the assigned work seems to be piling up (such as at the end of the semester).

In any event, 3 hours of outside work for every 1 hour of class time is a reasonable estimate.

Now, take the estimated number of hours that you’re committed to course work in a given week (the figure above).

Add to that number these figures:

# of hours you would like to sleep each night x 7 days = _____ hours.

combined # of hours you would like to spend eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day x 7 days = _____ hours.

# of hours you would like to spend engaged in non-exercise-related recreation each day x 7 days = _____ hours.

# of hours you would like to spend engaged in exercise-related recreation each day x 7 days = _____ hours.

# of hours you would like to spend engaged in miscellaneous activity each day (WoW, talking to parents/boyfriend/girlfriend, text messaging, knitting, whittling, stamp collecting, reenacting Civil War battles in a field somewhere) x 7 days = _____ hours.

Add up the figures.

How did you do? How many hours over or under 168 are you?

Now, you have some decisions to make. If you do not have enough time for all of the above in the 168 hours allotted to you each week, where will you make up the difference?

Odds are, you will not have exhausted your 168 hour allotment unless you have a job.

M A K E   A   P L A N : In any event, consider making a firm plan to spend your time and sticking to it. Here are some steps to follow:

1. Block out all times when you are required to be in class.

2. Block out a reasonable chunk of time for sleep each night. This may sound silly — putting sleeping on your to-do list — but it’s important to commit yourself to certain blocks of time so that you can see where the gaps are for more discretionary activities.

3. Block out your meal times for each day, afternoon, and night. These blocks might shift, but even a flexible plan is better than no plan.

4. Block out times to engage in non-exercise-related recreation.

5. Block out time when you’d like to exercise each day.

6. Block out times to engage in miscellaneous activity.

7a. This step is very important. Hunt around in the blocks of committed time on your planning calendar and look for available blocks of time for studying. Ideally, you will find blocks in the 2- to 4-hour range so that you can become immersed in your studying. Avoiding distractions is difficult for most people, but longer blocks of time will offer you a better chance of delving deeply into, say, a challenging reading assignment or of taking the time to write multiple drafts of a writing assignment — and to proofread it carefully.

7b. Commit yourself to those study periods.

8. This last step is likely to be taken by the students most driven to stay on top of their course work. Consider using your course syllabi to transfer to your planning calendar the deadlines of major assignments. Do yourself an additional favor and make a note of the dates when you are two weeks, and then one week, and then two days, away from those major assignment deadlines.

A   S O U N D   I N V E S T M E N T : Preparing your planning calendar is going to keep you busy for an hour or so some night, and you may need to set aside a smaller amount of time each week to update your planning calendar. This up-front investment will likely result in fewer overlooked assignments, less last-minute work, and the peace of mind that comes from having a sense of control over your life.

Follow the above steps, and you stand not only a fighting chance of success but a good chance. All that remains is for you to stick to your plan.

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