How to Succeed in College: 2023 Edition – Part Six

Part Six: Master Time Management

Are you ready for part six of the 2023 edition of How to Succeed in College? Last time we dealt with some pretty heavy stuff about interpersonal conflict and relationships, and how these factors can shape whether or not you are successful in college. Today’s topic is time management. This isn’t just a repeat of the piece of our guide on working smarter, not harder. We will beat the dead horse of time management until PETA comes after us. The good news is, the more you practice positive time management, the easier it will become. Fun fact – did you know tomatoes could help you stick to an effective study schedule? Read on…

The Pomodoro Technique

One technique that can be helpful for managing your time is the Pomodoro Technique. It’s named after those tomato-shaped kitchen timers your grandma probably had, because the inventor of the Pomodoro Technique, Francesco Cirillo, just grabbed it off his kitchen counter. In Italy, that is, where “pomodoro” means “tomato.” But you don’t need one of those gadgets to practice this technique for college success. 

The Pomodoro Technique itself involves working in short bursts, typically 25 minutes of focused work followed by a short break. This can help you stay focused and avoid burnout. You focus for a short, manageable amount of time, then spend time on a break – which lets you recharge or even continue to think about whatever it is you’re working on.

There are various Pomodoro Technique apps and web pages available that can help you implement this technique, but all you really need is a timer. The one on your phone works perfectly well, even though the red timers are fun and hard to lose. Research has shown that this pattern of work followed by breaks can improve productivity, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Experiment with the Pomodoro Technique and see if it works for you. 

The Successful College Student’s Guide to Scheduling

Of course, all the tomatoes in the world won’t help you if you’ve left everything to the last minute. That’s why it’s critical to create a study schedule that helps you stay on track to complete assignments, read material, and make sure you can keep up with the class. This might mean setting aside certain blocks of time each day to focus on your studies, or setting aside specific days of the week for certain subjects. Keep in mind that most people tend to learn best earlier in the day, so try to schedule your most challenging subjects for earlier in the week. Experiment with different approaches and see what works best for you.

Use an early holiday to get ahead in each class

One really successful technique that might work is to use one of the early holidays in the semester – say, Labor Day or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day – to get ahead. Now, those are important holidays, and your school might have some great stuff going on, like volunteering on MLK Day. Even so, try to set aside a few hours on those holidays that occur early in the term, and use that time for studying and working ahead. (If you are not American, use the relevant holidays or a weekend for the same thing). 

Look at the first major assignments due in each course, and see if you can get a head start. Take note of due dates and set up a master calendar with multiple reminders, but not so many that you get “alarm fatigue.” Make sure your calendar syncs across each device you use, too. 

Making wise choices about time

It’s not just about managing your study time. It’s also important to be mindful of how you spend your time outside of class. Are you spending too much time on social media or other time-wasting activities? Consider setting limits for yourself or finding more productive ways to use your time. 

We’ve talked about toxicity before. Think about how you spend your time with friends and others. Are you proud of what you do, or do you feel like it relaxes you? If so, awesome. But if you feel a little embarrassed that you got stoned and played Mario Kart for eight hours on a Tuesday afternoon, and especially if doing so did not help you achieve your goals, you should set some clearer boundaries about time management. We’re not even saying it’s never OK to waste time – sometimes that’s how you relax (and it’s not a waste if it helps you relax). 

If the shit hits the fan and the stress levels become intolerable, you can always reduce the workload by hiring an essay writing service .

We’d be hypocrites if we were advocating for time management and took up more of your time than necessary, so that does it for Part Six of our guide. Next time, we’ll talk about something we touched on in our section about wellness: Knowing and using your school’s resources. Check back soon!