How do I manage my time to stay productive?

Time management is one of those skills that takes some practice. Some of us love structure, schedules and routine. There is a place for everything and everything is in its place. Others of us might have more of a “go with the flow” approach to each day, embracing spontaneity and living in the moment. If you fall more into that second group, then this post is for you.

First things first: start by defining your ultimate goal. Do you want to improve your grades? Learn to cook? Run a marathon? Whatever it is, make it clear. Understanding your goal will help you eliminate distractions.

Next, list your daily tasks. Your list doesn’t have to be pretty — just jot down everything you do each day. Start with just the bigger things like:

  • Classes and important dates from your class syllabi

  • study time

  • work time

  • exercise time

  • sleep time

From there, think about when you’re most likely to get things done. Are you a morning person? Night owl? When does your energy level give you the biggest bang for your buck? Whenever that time is, you may start introducing new tasks that can help you achieve your goal. Maybe you join a runner’s Meet-up that trains in the early mornings, or one night each week you try cooking a new recipe.

Develop a schedule. Be it an app on your phone or an old-school paper planner, you'll need to organize your time and commitments. Plug in your tasks and create your daily schedule. (See more on ASU"s Schedule Planner below.)

Be flexible. Stuff happens. Things pop up. Your schedule shouldn’t be so rigid that you can’t take time for an unexpected visit with friends in from out of town, or you can’t work a few extra hours if you need money for an unplanned expense. Do what you need to do, but try to get yourself back on track once everything settles down.

ASU can help, too.

University Academic Success Programs provides extra help with time management, among other things, to help you make the most of your semester. Make an appointment with an academic mentorthey can help you work through things like:

  • calculating your GPA

  • email etiquette

  • preparing for finals

  • understanding your syllabus

  • learning styles and study skills

  • note-taking

  • using Blackboard and My ASU

  • test preparation and test-taking skills

  • taking advantage of your campus resources

There’s also ASU’s Schedule Planner tool for when you’re putting your class schedule together. In just a few clicks you can select what courses you want, add in breaks where you need them (maybe you have a part-time job, sports practice, or are volunteering during a certain time slot each week), and it will automatically generate all of the possible schedules that meet your criteria. You can access the tool on My ASU in your My Classes box (you may need to click on "Registration").

Managing your time can help make you super productive and reduce your stress levels. It may not come easy and you may experience a few setbacks, but keep at it. If you can learn to manage your time while you’re in school, it will naturally follow you into your professional life making you a highly effective, stand-out employee.


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ASU’s chatbot, Sunny, has been helping students get adjusted to college life for a few years now. The questions from students year after year, rarely change. Sometimes it helps to see what other students are asking to stay informed and realize you aren’t the only one trying to figure it all out.

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