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By Matthew Loux
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice, American Public University
One of the most common questions I hear in class concerns time management. These questions usually come from students trying to balance one or more classes, a full-time job, a family or military service obligations.
Effective Time Management Techniques to Help You Succeed Academically
There are several ways to properly balance classwork, family life, military service and other obligations through effective time management.
First, have a good calendar. Whether you are “old school” like I am and use a paper calendar or an app on your phone or tablet, it is important to see each month, week and day on your calendar. I use both types, so I can see the calendar on my desk and on an app. This allows me to see my schedule from anywhere.
After you read the course syllabus (easily accessed through the APUS app), jot down some of the class requirements on the paper calendar and on the app, beginning with the start and end dates of each course. Then insert the requirements for each week and the due dates of papers, tests and quizzes.
By seeing everything in a monthly view, you get an idea of the workload for each week and you can properly plan for each task. The app shows you your workload automatically.
Set an app reminder a couple of days before an assignment is due. This way, you will not scramble to write a post or take a test at the last moment.
After Your Classes Are in Your Calendar, Add Your Work Schedule
Once you have your classes outlined in your calendars, add your work schedule for each day, so you will know when to concentrate on work only. Also, add family activities, service opportunities, and other meetings or events that require your attention and/or presence.
You can now see a full semester of activities by week and by month. You can then formulate your game plan for study and research time.
Some apps will let you set reminders of upcoming tasks. As a result, you will have reminders on your calendar and on the task app, reducing the risk of missing an assignment.
During some weeks, you might have more free time than other weeks. Consider completing some assignments early and turning them in before their due date. That will free up time to concentrate on the more demanding assignments such as term papers. What instructor can be mad at a student who works ahead?
Create Daily Tasks Based on Your Schedule and Set Priorities
Don’t forget to check your daily schedule so you do not miss an assignment or test. Use a task app to create daily tasks that you can simply “swipe” off the to-do list as you complete them.
Next, prioritize your activities. As you continue your degree program, your assignments will get more difficult, time-consuming and complex.
If you have papers or tests that are more than a month away, this is the time to schedule research time in your calendar. Planning ahead and doing a little work over a longer period of time enables you to produce better quality work and reduces the stress from having to cram in all of your work at the last minute.
For instance, if you are just starting a class and you have a paper due in week seven, conduct research in the APUS Library to find a topic during your first week. If you have identified a topic in week one, continue to narrow the scope of that topic and find relevant scholarly resources for your paper.
Once your resources are compiled, start your outline in week three. In week four, start putting the information into draft form so by week six, the draft is ready for final review and submission. If you include these tasks into the calendar, you will see your progress and know what work is left to do.
Insert All Class Events in the Calendar and Task App
If you are taking more than one class a semester, insert all class events in the calendar and task app by labeling each entry, such as CMRJ100 Week 1 Library Research and CMRJ101 Week 1 Library Research. The labels will help you to keep your classes separate and follow the progress of each class assignment.
Good planning and time management are critical to a successful academic career. If you read the syllabus and use a calendar to keep track of all your assignments, personal activities, career and social events, you will manage your time more efficiently.
About the Author
Matthew Loux has been in law enforcement for more than 20 years and has a background in fraud and criminal investigation, as well as hospital, school and network security. Matt has researched and studied law enforcement and security best practices for the past 10 years.
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