Time Management

"Time isn't the main thing. It's the only thing." - Miles Davis

Legendary jazz musician Miles Davis likely didn't have university student life in mind when he said these famous words, but the weight they carry stands — what you make of your time as a student is entirely up to you. It is completely in your control to spend your out-of-class hours studying and churning out homework, or chiseling away at the top of the Rocket League leaderboards.

A second is a second, a minute a minute, an hour an hour. Despite the action, time is — unfortunately — an absolute. An hour spent scrolling through Netflix is just as long as an hour spent playing search and destroy with the Visual Studio debugger, but one is obviously more productive, right? Well, depending on the goal, of course. The point is, time is a finite resource, fleeting in retrospect and requiring a proper investment to make the most of it. Investment into your own time is an investment into oneself, and that's the entire goal of university, right? Apart from learning, of course, but that's inherent and never stops.

Most people take a little while to adjust to the freedom afforded to them as a college student. Gone are the days of eight hours of back-to-back class, where you receive and complete a majority of assignments then and there, leading to a majority of learning happening in the classroom. Now your classes will only have you showing up a few times each week for a handful of total hours of in-class time. This makes it impossible to learn purely from being there. You'll be sitting down with your books, notes and enough pens to arm a Writer's Guild. Studying and homework — though the distinction being made here is slight — are where the magic happens, and you no longer have someone telling you when and how to get it done.

We're here to help you with that as well as offer direction. Like most things, it's all about finding your niche and what works for you. Not everyone likes or needs the same methods of personal time management, just as how not everyone agrees that dark chocolate is the superior form of chocolate.

Tips and tricks

To get started, here are some quick general tidbits of advice to help you make better use of your 24-hour day:

    1. Make a to-do listeach night for the next day and review it when you wake up. Creating it prior to sleep will help to cement these goals into memory and reviewing it in the morning will help you to prioritize having already known what you need to get done. Electronic or physical — it doesn't matter.
    2. You don't have to get it done all at once.Not understanding this truth overwhelms many students. It can actually be ideal to break assignments into smaller portions over several days, leading to less stress and higher-quality work, along with allowing you to get a larger variety of things done throughout the day.
    3. Variety is key.Blocking your whole day off to focus on one specific task is almost always entirely ineffective. Unless you only have a singular duty, it's better to chisel away at a handful of goals throughout the day consecutively. However, do not spread yourself too thin; that didn't go over very well for the Romans.
    4. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize!If it's truly important to you, you will find and make time for it. Tackle the hardest task first, leaving the easiest for last, or vice-versa; or whichever one is the most over-due. Again, find your niche. It helps you feel more accomplished, and therefore motivates you. It's all about the dopamine ticks.
    5. Hold yourself accountableby blocking out segments of your time. Life moves fast, especially the blood of life — time. It's a rushing torrent and the days draw to a close faster than you'd hope as you grow older. It's incredibly easy to look up at the clock and see the hands are at 3:00, peer away for seemingly a few seconds, and the next thing you know, it's 6:30.
Scheduling, planning and all of that

Ultimately you will need a way to keep track of your hectic student life. Some people like to have paper in their hands as they jot down their daily agenda, while others prefer being able to whip out their phone to see what's next on their to-do list. Having a system of scheduling and planning for your valuable time ties in to all of the above hacks. If you're going to the old-fashioned route, dozens of different types of planners and notebooks are out there to fill with a myriad of colored inks.

On the electronic side, the list is pretty small considering how seamlessly things sync across the board. Here are three of our favorites.

  • Google Calendar
    • Effortlessly syncs with Android/Apple stock calendar apps; simple and easy to use on mobile devices. Allows full control of a dynamic schedule and translates anything relevant across the full range of Google web apps.
  • Microsoft Outlook
    • As a K-State student, you have a free Outlook account. Outlook offers everything Google does and it's already synced with your K-State account/email. Some events may even get put into your calendar for you from what it finds online. It’s perhaps the easiest to get started with and requires the least amount of syncing between different accounts for your school life.
  • MyStudyLife
    • An option if you'd prefer to shy away from the big names, or prefer something more specifically designed for a student, MyStudyLife is a planner app specifically for a class schedule. It's designed for input of courses and has an implemented system to set reminders for studying, assignments, checklists, etc. — a solid option.