Post-secondary education is a challenging time, driven by responsibilities that rest on you and you alone. We know you are driven to succeed in your learning. The semester has started, so let’s ensure that you have the time management skills to succeed. This week we take a look at some TM essentials, to help you on your journey. Lots of it is up to you, but you aren’t in it alone.
It Takes Time: Start Early, Remind Often
Professors and instructors are required to give you a syllabus at the start of a course. This is still true in online learning! A syllabus, AKA a course outline, lists the assignments, assessments, and important dates throughout the semester. Use your syllabus to chart important dates right from the get-go. This ensures that you have a full awareness of your responsibilities across all courses, from day one through to the final exam. A syllabus is definitely a helpful time management tool!
Many of us rely on technology to remind us of our obligations. If this sounds like you, set enough reminders in advance so you never lose track of a certain assignment. Further, consider scheduling smaller work blocks over the weeks between now and your due dates. Consequently, you take comfortable, concentrated approaches to your learning, rather than pulling those dreaded all-nighters.
We’re also fortunate to live in the generation where there’s a free app for almost everything. Check out some of the top time management apps in 2020 if you need an extra technological boost. That said, there is still no shame in the tried-and-true day planner!
Make Space for Work
We’ve all likely heard that spending time on the phone before bed can be detrimental to one’s sleep cycle. Similarly, not having a designated ‘work space’ can mess up your learning mojo.
You may not feel like you are distracted just by working at home, but having a designated work environment can make you more productive. Imagine trying to do work on your living room couch, where your partner, pet, child, or television can distract you. While this might be something you think you can handle, you’re likely to be much more focused if you have a go-to area to complete your learning tasks. Set up a cute little virtual office. Have your ‘reading chair.’ These changes to your physical space will boost your ability to manage time.
Many of us rely on small-scale distractions to enhance focus. Some soft music in the background, headphones in the ears, or specific lighting are common additions students make to their work space. Spend some time thinking about these micro-adjustments, and take a little time to explore what might work best for you.
Learning with Friends
For the past several months, we have confronted new realities in almost every aspect of life. With this in mind, it’s important to find comfort in our need for connection.
Even though your calendar is a lot fuller with the start of school, consider finding time to connect with others through your range of learning activities. Of course, this isn’t social time in the ‘truest sense.’ But, there is remarkable power in group-oriented learning. Use learning to boost one another up, stay motivated, and consider new perspectives on course readings and assignments. You will likely even find that the time goes by faster!
Time for Yourself
Heading back to school might mean that your days are much busier, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up time for self-care.
Consider smaller-scale options for ‘self-time’ that you can layer into your learning blocks. Go for a short walk, draw a hot bath, head to the kitchen for a snack, or play with your dog. You might also need a full day off from time to time. If you are on top of your tasks right from the start of your course, then self-care becomes both a necessity for mental reset. It is also a nice reward for being so responsible through your learning.
Seek Support: It’s Available
It is normal to feel stressed when facing time constraints. Even those of us who are consistently strong at time management feel overwhelmed on occasion. Although we are in widespread virtual learning across the province at all levels of education, supports continue to be available at our partner institutions to help you along the way.
If you have questions about your timetable, degree requirements, or any other concern related to your academics, consider reaching out to an academic advisor at your institution. They will make sure you’re on the right path.
Other times, life can get to us. If you are struggling on a more personal level, consider seeking out the skilled and compassionate counsellors at your institution. In many cases, these departments have amped up services particularly in light of the current pandemic. They are here for you, always:
Best Foot Forward
Post-secondary institutions have worked hard to provide guidance and support to teachers and learners as we head back to school in a pandemic. Uncertainty aside, you have the skills, capacity, and strength to do this. Time management takes some practice, but by considering these basics and knowing that you have support, you are well on your way.
From us to you: we wish you all the best with your studies this fall. You’ve got this!
Campus Manitoba is a consortium of Manitoba’s public universities and colleges. Through collaborative projects and shared services, we facilitate student mobility and expand access to post-secondary programs for students in Manitoba. In addition to campusmanitoba.ca, our websites include ecoursesmb.ca, setyourcourse.ca, and openedmb.ca.