4.2 The Benefit of Good Time Management

  • How much time should I be spending outside of class?
  • What is the difference between time management and productivity management?

Where Should Your Time Go?

Plan for the ideal use of a week’s worth of time. Fill in your hours in this order:

  1. Hours attending class
  2. Study hours (2 times the number of class hours plus 5 or more hours extra)
  3. Work, internships, and fixed volunteer time
  4. Fixed life activities (sleeping, eating, hygiene, chores, transportation, etc.)

Now subtotal your hours so far and subtract that number from 168. How many hours are left?

This will help you find the remaining hours for “discretionary activities” (things you don’t have to do for school, work, or a healthy life).

After completing this you may see that something, somewhere has to give. That’s part of time management — and why it’s important to keep your goals and priorities in mind.

The other part is to learn how to use the hours you do have as effectively as possible, especially the study hours. For example, if you’re a typical college student who plans to study for three hours in an evening but then procrastinates, gets caught up in a conversation, loses time to checking e-mail and text messages, and listens to loud music while reading a textbook, then maybe you actually spent four hours “studying” but got only two hours of actual work done. So you end up behind and feeling like you’re still studying way too much. The goal of time management is to actually get three hours of studying done in three hours and have time for your life as well.

Putting in the Work – Why Bother?

Man in corner with sticky notes all over him and the wall
Photo by Luis Villasmil, Unsplash License

When asked, Fanshawe students in a Strategies for Success often report that  that when it comes to all the tools and strategies that are available to help them manage their time, the time required to set them up and use them is better spent just doing whatever needs to be done.  They prefer to just do things based on due dates and deal with things as they arise. They are often also the students observed to be the most stressed out and who are often unable to effectively manage when things don’t work out exactly as they had planned.

A study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology examined the relationship between stress and student performance.

They found two significant correlations:

1. Student stress was reduced when they felt they had control over their time.
2. And this sense that they had control over time improved their academic performance (Macan et al., 1990).
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Photo by Brooke Cagle, Unsplash License

Instead of thinking of it as “spending time”, shift your thinking. You are in fact investing your time in possibly one of the most important, and expensive things you could be doing right now. Investing time in examining how you are currently using the time you have will help you find opportunities to take some control over this very busy term which will reduce your stress and possibly improve your academic performance.

In the workplace, the situation is not very different, with activities and time on task being monitored by the company and its management. This is so much a part of the working environment that many companies research how much time each task should take, and they hold employees accountable for the time spent on these job functions. In fact, having these skills and being able to explain how you organize your workday will help you stand out on the job and in job interviews.

If the benefits of less stress and better grades aren’t enough of a reason to invest in how you structure and organize your time, let’s look at the cost of poor time management.

2.3 Organizing Your Time”  from College Success by University of Minnesota Libraries is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 License.



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