Time management is something we all struggle with, and something that is a lifelong process. New students should understand that college requires you gain significant advancements in this area, or you will struggle to keep up.

How do I get started with time management?

There are many time management systems, so it’s best to start with a simple system and work up from there. To get you started I would recommend that you adopt two practices:

First, keep some type of schedule. Whether this schedule is digital or print is of little significance. But, you need to have something to keep your appointments, block off time for important activities, and keep organized. When you get up every morning, review the day’s schedule as well as the next day’s appointments. If it’s Monday, review the entire week to know what obligations you have forthcoming. 

Second, keep two task lists: a “priority” list and a “potential” list. I would recommend you keep this list digitally, as well as a backup for safekeeping. There are many to do list apps you can also keep on your phone. I’m a fan of Todoist.

On the priority list, keep high priority tasks that need to be done within a defined period of time. If the to do is a project, split it up into specific action steps. On the potential list, store items that are important but not high priority (or not even actionable at this time).

For instance, these items would be on the priority list:

  • Compete chapter 2 reading in psychology textbook
  • Do laundry on Friday afternoon
  • Get hair cut on Tuesday at 2:00pm

NOTE: make sure to interface your to-do list with your schedule. For example, the laundry and haircut tasks should be blocked out on your calendar as well.

These items would be on your potential list:

  • Go to Italy
  • Look into getting a computer(that is, if this is an aspirational goal and not something you need to do now)
  • Organize and sell old clothes

If potential items become priority items, simply move them over to the priority list.

This blog post is part of a series on how to be successful in college.