Organizing now can lead to success later

Organizing now can lead to success later

by Shawna McChurch

Managing time and staying organized is an effective way for students to get ahead and be successful.

“Looking in the long run, in relation to a job or career, if a student can manage their time now, they will be able to in [the future],” said Todd Little, director of the Hawley Academic Resource Center.

Little suggested many ways for students to better organize their time.

His first suggestion, and one that he said is a key factor in organization, is prioritizing what needs to be done. He suggests that students make a list, starting with the most important stuff first, and work their way through it.

Another thing students can do is schedule their study and play time wisely.

“Learning how to schedule the time is a key factor in time management,” said Little.

Little doesn’t suggest that students fill their schedules back to back with study time, but that they should leave breathing room. Having many short breaks throughout their study time helps students not only organize their time more effectively, but also better focus their attention, according to Little.

Other ways to stay organized include using a planner, making a daily to-do list or using a weekly study schedule. A weekly study schedule is an outline of specific hours to study for each course and a time planner is a broad overview of the entire semester.

Senior Angela Reasoner has found these methods to be helpful.

“My planner lets me know what I have planned for the week and I can plan for upcoming events,” she said. “I [also use] a to-do list and check off things as I go.”

A good rule for studying is to spend two hours outside of class for every one hour in class.

“If a student has 15 hours of classes or labs, they should spend about 30 hours doing homework or studying,” said Little, “which means the student should spend about 45 hours a week doing schoolwork.”

When studying, students should find a way to best use their time. Little has many suggestions on how to do this.

First, he suggests that students study as soon after the class as possible. The information will still be fresh in the mind, so it will be easier to study. This also keeps students from thinking too much about other issues and classes.

When doing large projects and assignments, students should use what Little calls distributed effort. Distributed effort refers to the process of breaking large tasks into several manageable steps.

“Not doing this tends to lead to procrastination,” he said. “[Students] look at a large assignment and think they can’t do it, but if they break it up into smaller pieces it doesn’t look so bad.”

Two related suggestions are to use portable study materials, such as 3×5 index cards, during stolen moments. Stolen moments are those few minutes students have when they arrive early to class, the time between loads of laundry or the minutes wasted while waiting for friends to get ready to go to lunch. Index cards and notes can easily be reviewed during these instances that are found throughout the day.

Students should be realistic about how much time they actually have and use it wisely, according to Little. In doing this, it helps to find a place to consistently use for studying purposes.

By studying in regular a place students will not have to adjust to the lighting, sounds, temperatures and other factors that take time away from studies.

They should also explore and find out the best time of day for them to effectively study.

“Students should find their peak time when they are able to perform physical and mental activities at their best level,” said Little. “And they should make studying a regular part of their everyday activities and life.”

By good planning and leaving a little extra time for the unexpected, the college experience can be slightly less stressful.