September 08, 2014

Time Management for Academic Success

The beginning of the semester is filled with new classes, studying, events, friends, and more. Mebbie Bell with the Student Success Centre explains how managing your time now will help you succeed later in the semester. 

As the new academic year begins, set yourself up for success (and significantly less stress!) by creating a schedule with which you can stick for the entire term:

  • Treat school as your full-time job. Being at university is your most important priority—give it your full commitment. You wouldn't skip a work shift because you did not feel like going, so don’t skip class! Successful studying happens on days when we feel like it, and days when we don’t.
  • Aim to spend at least two hours studying each week for each hour you spend in class. For example, for three lecture hours, spend at least six hours each week working on the related course material. Some courses and programs may require more time, of course, but this guideline is a good place to start.
  • Create a weekly schedule. Mark lectures, labs, and regular personal events (such as work or volunteering). Distribute study blocks for each of your courses throughout the week. Aim for a general schedule to use for the entire term. What you do in your study blocks then changes based on what is going on in your courses.
    • Plan not to study—really. Time off is just as important as the time you spend studying. In fact, if you don’t take time off each day, you will burn out, be less efficient, more stressed, and much less able to process new information. Join a student group or extracurricular activity, spend time with friends, or watch your favourite Netflix show.
    • Stick to a regular routine. Start and end your day at the same time. This predictability reduces stress and increases productivity. And, it’s actually closely linked with better exam performance.
  • Construct monthly schedules for the entire term. Gather all of your course outlines. Record all exam and assignment due dates (including finals) along with their percent values (the percentages will help you plan and prioritize your time). List any significant personal events, such as travel or birthdays. And, mark dates on which to start assignment and exam preparations.
  • Finally, post these schedules in hard copy where you will see them every day. And, review them regularly to stay on track.
You will be busy, but the effort you put toward planning now will pay off later with less cramming, less stress, and more energy to make the most of your university experience.

Updated as of September 8, 2015.