10 Tips for Organizing Your Time

1. Make your schedule somewhat flexible. Avoid scheduling every minute (it would be impossible to live up to, and you need some unscheduled time anyway). Develop realistic plans (when have you ever studied productively 11 hours per day?). Avoid Vagueness (“I’ll study in the afternoons”). Include exercise, socializing, chores, and some types of relaxation.

2. Study your hardest/longest assignment first and your easiest last. (Benefits here include greater motivational control and greater efficiency).

3. Budget your time among assignments so that super-compulsivity on chemistry doesn’t mean you never get to Russian. (This also teaches time discipline for exams.)

4. Plan “rewards” for sticking to schedule, completing projects, etc.

5. If concerned about missing/losing friends, spend high quality (vs. high quantity) time with them. For example, instead of watching TV with them, plan a high-interaction activity (playing sports, etc.). Make one segment of time double duty–e.g. as long as you have to eat, eat with friends; take your girl friend to the library (study once you get there!).

6. Planning time for recreation or for “doing nothing” helps you avoid the common trap of never really doing or enjoying either one; planning increases pleasure in off-time. You know you have other times planned for the unwritten term paper, etc., so you can relax and be free of guilt when seeing Joe Blow during your scheduled goof-off time.

7. Don’t make things unduly tough on yourself. For example, don’t pick a time to study when everyone around you is socializing; if you must do that, anticipate the temptation and find a place away from leisure cues.

8. If it helps you, make a list of things to be completed. (Here it also helps to try to give realistic time requirements.)

9. Match jobs to time blocks–i.e. don’t try to write a paper in the half hour before dinner. Save this for a 2-3 hour block when you can get your thinking going. Learn to evaluate time requirements and say to yourself, “I have a half hour free. What half-hour task shall I do?”

10. Help yourself resist overdoing socializing by scheduling it before a firm time commitment (e.g., “until dinner, “until the laundry is done,” etc.)