William and Mary: Time Management Advice for Incoming College Students

Written by Orley Estrada

TEDx: Pomodoro Technique

Time is the most valued resource for humans. Since the dawn of civilization, humanity has tried to keep the measurement of time precisely. As past societies learned, the number of hours in a day dictates the amount of work one can accomplish. Time’s fleeting quality compelled civilizations such as the Egyptians to create sundials to manage their time efficiently. Despite the advances in measuring time accurately, modern-day human beings still struggle with managing time’s transitory nature. This dilemma is most apparent in freshmen college students like me who have to balance their time between extracurriculars, family, academics, etc. Therefore, I believe that a college student’s time management skills are paramount to their success not only in academics but in life.

To gain time-management skills, a student must become aware of the task and activities they must accomplish.  As a result, my first action plan was to create a set schedule that would encompass my academic and personal activities.  Before creating my set schedule, I had to decide whether it would be created on paper or virtually.  On one hand, the paper planner would be preferable since I can easily edit and reorganize tasks without the hassle of technological issues.  Additionally, the process of writing tasks would increase my likelihood to remember them, which is an added benefit.  On the other hand, a virtual planner would be more advantageous because there is a lesser chance of losing it; I can always access it through Google Calendar. There’s also the added benefit that a Google Calendar can remind me of activities through alerts on my computer and phone.

Both options have their risk and benefits, and I decided to use both because they served two distinct functions.  For instance, my Google Calendar is used for long-term scheduling throughout my academic year.   Whereas, my paper planner is used for short-term scheduling events in my week.  Creating my Google Calendar was time-consuming since I had to type all my due dates from my syllabi into my calendar.  I also had to place all of my personal and academic appointments.  Although it was tedious, I knew that a long-term schedule would make it simple for me to plan my weekly activities on my paper planner.  Moreover, the creation of these schedules has improved my time-management skills because I am not only aware of my tasks and activities, but I know it will provide structure throughout my daily life.  I plan to evaluate the impact of these schedules on my time-management skills by seeing throughout the semester if it has reduced time conflicts and increased my awareness of due dates.

Constructing my schedules reminded me of the short and long-term goals that I want to accomplish this semester.  Several of my peers have mentioned that they’ve already created their four-year plan.  Their long-term planning has motivated me to create my own personalized four-year plan.  This plan is beneficial to me since it will provide clear guidance on classes to take.  It will ensure that I’m not misusing my time by taking unneeded classes.  Once I complete a rough draft of my four-year plan, I’ll arrange a meeting with my pre-major advisor, and he’ll certify the accuracy of it.  With that being said, my second short-term goal is to meet all of my professors in their office hours.  So far, I’ve met three out of five of them.  In order to accomplish this goal, I plan to send these professors an email with a Google Calendar invitation, so we can set-up a meeting.  By sending a Google invitation, I’ll be reminded of these meetings and so will my professors.   If professors don’t rely on Google Calendar, I will contact them by email in order to meet them.

Importantly, my long-term goal this semester is to find a balance between my academic and social life. I believe a portion of college students devote more time to their academics rather than their social life, and I am one of them. I believe a portion of college students struggle balancing academics and To eliminate this off balance, I plan to join more clubs on campus.  I’ve already joined the Latin American Student Union, and I’ve met awesome individuals.  Moreover, I want to expand my social group outside my culture.  For this reason, I plan to join the Fermentation Club and the First-Generation, Low-Income organization in order to make more friends that have similar interests and values as me.  Following time management, I’ve decided to set aside one hour each day to these activities, so they don’t interfere with academics.  I’ll assess if these clubs have benefited my social satisfaction by evaluating my contentment.

Through the creation of my schedules, I have gained critical knowledge of the tasks that I need to complete throughout this semester.  Without a set schedule, my semester and daily life would not be managed efficiently.  Not only is a set schedule useful for planning activities, but it also provides a track record of short and long-term goals for college students like me.  From the creation of these action plans, I’ve learned that life as a college student can seem less daunting and stressful if I manage my time effectively.  “Work smarter, not harder” with this phrase, I believe the key to success in college is exceptional time-management skills.

(This essay was written for a college class. Some parts were modified to suit the theme of time management.)

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