Managing Your Time

You will be busy in college. Really busy. Besides your all-important classes and friends, there are clubs, sports, parties—and sleep. Here are some tips to help you get your priorities straight.

There is so much to do in college—and in high school while getting ready for college—it's difficult to find time for it all. You have three term papers, two midterms, a party, and a can't-miss date on Friday night to squeeze into one short week. How can you fit them all in? With proper time management. Start practicing the following tips in high school so that you'll be a pro by the time you get to college.

Where Do You Have to Be at 2 p.m.?

Once you've determined the things you really need to do, enter them into a daily schedule. You may want to purchase a day planner, portable calendar, datebook, or electronic organizer. Use them to immediately note assignments and test dates. Having a calendar also allows you to cross tasks off when you complete them.

Schedule your study time. Don't just assume it will take care of itself. Try to write down what you do every hour in a given week. Be absolutely honest about how you spend your time. Even if you spend three hours watching TV, write it down. Then determine which of those activities you really don't need to continue. Sort out the productive activities from those that simply fill time. Start with the little tasks. Even if you save 15 minutes a day, that's almost two hours a week.

Don't Forget the Priorities

If you need eight hours of sleep a night, take it. Getting sufficient sleep will help you stay healthy. If you know you HAVE to study at seven or eight every evening, you'll get used to doing it then and will get more done. Don't let anything interfere with that study time. Plan your other activities around it. Stay ahead of your reading assignments (especially in college) and other homework and try to go to all of your classes. It's very hard to catch up once you miss a class. You can also use your day planner to enter homework deadlines and to prioritize your tasks.

All the planning in the world cannot squeeze extra hours into your day, so don't over-schedule your classes or free time. And don't forget to schedule your personal time. Everyone needs time out. Reportedly, even Microsoft founder Bill Gates schedules time off every year to catch up on all the books he wants to read. If you feel like rewarding yourself for studying hard or doing well on a test, set aside that time beforehand—and follow through with your plans.