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-Effective Time Management StrategiesResearchers have consistently found that the primary reason first-year college students

fail out of college is directly related to the poor time management strategies they employ. College is quite different than high school. First, most high school students report they study fewer than five hours per week. In contrast, college students should spend 25-30 hours per week to perform well. Second, high school students have to start the day typically at 8:30 and end it at 2:30. The day is structured. In contrast, college students start their day whenever they want. They are responsible for their own time management strategies. Because of the unstructured nature of the college day studying in college requires much more initiative, self-discipline and effective time management strategies. Third, often teachers and parents of high school students provide pressure for students to do their work. In contrast, colleges do not apply much external pressure. You do the work or suffer the long-term consequences. Unfortunately, many first-year college students have not learned the time management strategies necessary to do well and are not prepared to handle the personal responsibility and freedom of the unstructured college day. The purpose of this module, therefore, is to help you acquire the necessary time management strategies necessary to succeed in college. To help you think about the amount of time available for studying, please read the following questions and answers we have provided.

Questionnaire: Where has all the time gone?
-Reflections on Time Management-

1. How many hours are there in a week? 168 hours. 2. How many hours a week does an average college student need to sleep? 56 hours. 3. How many hours a week does a typical student have to attend classes? 15 hours. 4. What does the research suggest about the number of hours a student should study to achieve high grades? 30 hours. 5. How many hours, therefore, should a college student spend on college work? 15 hours in class + 30 hours studying=45 hours. 6. How many hours does an average adult work in a week including time to commute to work? 50 hours. Notice the time commitment to be a successful full-time college student is equal to the same amount of time a typical adult spends on a full-time job. Of course you are you not incapable of holding down a full-time job. Remember that many adults and almost all professionals work a lot more than 50 hours.


7. How many hours a day should a student spend on daily chores and eating? About 3 hours. 8. Given a 168-hour week, time for sleep (56), attending classes (15), studying (30), and chores and eating (21), how much time is left over for fun, relaxation, and recreation? The answer is 168-56-15-30-21=46 hours a week. After committing 45 hours to college work a typical student still has 46 hours available for recreation. Whenever we demonstrate this to students, they are amazed. Our point in this questionnaire is to make you aware that you can become committed to a 45-hour academic week and still have lots of free time for recreational activities. Answer the following questions about the questionnaire: 1. Were you aware of the amount of time you should spend studying? 2. Were you aware of the amount of time you have available for studying? 3. Were you aware that there is a lot of time available to study and still have a good time, even if you hold a part-time job? The good news, of course, is that if you choose to do so, you can easily spend 30 hours a week studying and still enjoy a lot of free time. The decision is yours to make.

-Factors leading to time management failureHow many times have you planned to do something, only to procrastinate or fail to carry out the plan? While there are many explanations for failure to implement plans, we have identified six of the most frequent time management failures first-year students’ experience in college (see Figure 1). First, many students fail to observe and evaluate themselves before they begin the semester. To what extent are they really committed to perform excellent work? Failure to be committed to do serious college-level work leads to procrastination and only a minimal effort to manage time successfully. Second, many students fail to think of the long-term implications of poor performance. This failure to think seriously about long-term goals and the implications of poor grades leads to mediocre grades and places students in terrible jeopardy when they seek employment or want to attend graduate school. Third, often students fail to analyze the demands of the task, particularly the amount of time necessary to complete college work and reading assignments successfully. This failure leads to cramming or failure to complete the assignment. Fourth, very often students are unaware of the amount of time available in a day or week to complete their work. They are also unaware of time management principles and strategies to implement effective time-management plans. These failures lead to an incredible amount of wasted time. Fifth, students often fail to consider which factors might interfere with their completion of tasks. This failure leads to unnecessary disruptions, incomplete work, and failure to sustain high quality work over periods of time. Lastly, students often fail to monitor and evaluate their performance. This failure leads to continuous poor performance and poor use of time.


Failures in Time Management

Self awareness

Long-term goals

Task awareness

Time awareness

Unwanted disruptions

Monitor/ evaluate

Figure 1. Time management problems.

-Strategies to Overcome Time Management FailuresSelf-awareness and long term-goals: Time management will not work unless you are committed to make it work. Commitment originates from the realization that ineffective effort has serious short-term and long-term negative consequences. The first step in time management is to create a personal time management pact. In this pact you should generate the following semester goals: • Complete all course work successfully with grades from A-C. • Make the most difficult and boring course your best course. • Make every studying episode quality time. Don’t accept mediocre performance. • Change your studying efforts immediately if you receive a low grade on any test. • Learn effective study strategies. Learn one strategy each week. To achieve these goals, we suggest you fill in the “personal pact” matrix found in the Appendix. Continue to do this weekly to monitor your commitment to do well. Students who carefully monitor their behavior and constantly think about the consequences of their behavior tend to do well; those students who fail to monitor or evaluate their performance tend to do poorly. Task awareness: While professors may assign many different tasks, the most frequent assignments are textbook readings, preparation for quizzes and tests, and papers. Task awareness refers to the strategies you employ to perform well on these tasks (particularly reading assignments). It also includes your assessment of the amount of time you need to perform well, your ability to break the task down into manageable segments, and your ability to study for tests and exams. All of these skills are closely related to time management because you need to plan how to use each hour to achieve your goals. We cannot discuss all these strategies in this module. We do make the point, however, that your time management is only as good as the study strategies you employ. Consider the following recommendations: A) Learn effective study strategies: • Enroll in the study skills course. If you already enrolled in the course, take the recommendations seriously. • Attend workshops on study skills. • Work with successful students who took the study skills course. • Purchase a study skills book and learn how to learn.

B) Create a plan to read textbooks for each course and to review for tests. Survey the chapter to identify the amount of content you have to read. Count the number of pages. Divide by five the number of pages you have to read. This is the number of pages you should read each day to complete your reading task by Friday. Determine the amount of information that is included in the chapter. This will help you determine your reading rate. When you read you should achieve the following four goals: • Mark your text. Underline only key phrases. • Answer questions about the relationships among the details as you read. • Record quality notes on the reading. • Generate and answer smart questions about the content. See the description of “smart questions” in the appendix. Time awareness: Time awareness consists of all the principles and strategies you should employ to manage your time for the semester, week, day, and hour.
• Generate a semester plan during the first week of the semester.

• Plan to study 30 hours a week. • Use your daytime hours, particularly the morning hours. • Be ready for all major tests three days in advance. • Distribute your studying time in small segments (about an hour or two)

The Semester Plan:
For each course, identify all the tasks you will have to do for the semester. Particularly pay attention to the reading assignments and papers. For reading assignments, determine the approximate number of pages you should read each week. For papers, create a time line for the following goals: pick a topic, finish the library or Internet research, write first draft, and write final draft. Be finished with your final draft at least 1-2 weeks before the paper is due.

The Weekly Plan:
Create a time management matrix similar to the one in the appendix. Place the days on the top and the hours down the side. We suggest you start the column at 6:00 or 7:00 even though you might not get up this early. These are hours potentially available to you that you could use if necessary. You probably worked full-time during the summer and had to get up at this hour, thus keep these hours in mind when you plan your week.


When you fill in the time management matrix, use the following procedures: • Record the non-studying activities you must accomplish by placing an “X” in the appropriate slot. Examples of these activities include classes, a job, team practices, eating, showering, and laundry. • Record several hours of free recreational time for each day. Do this before you plan to study because you are likely to resent studying if it takes away from a valued leisure activity. • Record your precise studying objectives. Assign approximately 20 hours a week for this purpose. • Record general study time for approximately 10 hours a week. • Plan to study the same course at the same hour each day. • Start your day with your “worst” course (the course you have decided to make the best course).

Remember that for approximately 20 hours in your matrix you should record precise objectives. This is very important. Writing specific objectives helps you keep your focus when you study. It also helps you determine if you met your objective at the end of the hour. To write a precise objective, identify the observable product you want to produce. For example, notice the difference between “read pages 31-40” and “mark pages 31-40.” No one could really determine if you read pages 31-40 unless they asked you questions about the chapter but everyone could determine if you marked the chapter. An observable product is something you can measure. Look at the completed matrix on the next page (Figure 2). Notice that someone could determine easily if you achieved the objective by either observing the product you produced or by asking you questions about your studying outcomes. Schedule the remaining ten hours for free time. The purpose of scheduling 10 hours of general study time is that you can’t be sure how much you will accomplish in the 20 hours of precise study time. If you don’t meet your objectives you can convert the general study time into precise study time. Make college a full-time job.


8:00 Biol notes- cards-p. 31-38

biol notes- matrix p. 39-46/ mark text Do math problems-1-6 X

biol notes-diagrams and cards p.47-54/ mark text X X

9:00 10:00 11:00

X X History: Generate “smart” questions from notes- answer the questions X(lunch) X Write phil. essay Write phil. Essay

history notes-matrix p.65-73

History notes-p. 74-83 X(lunch) free study time history notes-p.74-83 provide definitions and examples to 30 psych. vocab.

12:00 1:00 2:00 3:00

X(lunch) Free study time X X


Math: Study group-end of chapter problems (1-10)

Provide definitions and examples to 30 psych. vocab.On cards

Figure 2. Completed time management matrix

Some students like using the matrix to manage their time. Others complain it is too artificial or unrealistic. We have identified four important purposes for using the time management matrix. First, when you complete the matrix you have to think about how to use your free hours. Our research clearly indicates that most students are amazed at the number of available hours for studying. Second, this system forces you to identify specific objectives you should accomplish each day. Third, by counting the number of quality hours you spend each day in a column and in a row you can accurately monitor your studying time. By using the matrix, you can pinpoint precisely how you use your time. Our research also indicates that students are frequently amazed at the number of hours they waste in a typical week. Fourth, if you planned to study at 10:00 on Monday and some other activity interfered with your plans you could reschedule that hour. Thus, you don’t have to stick to your plan - you just have to complete the studying strategies at some time during the week. Unwanted disruptions: Another time management problem often emerges for many students. They plan to study but their roommate interrupts them. Or some other obstacle occurs that interferes with their study plan. By carefully monitoring your study performance you can determine if the interruptions are regular or irregular. If the interruptions occur frequently then you should take action to avoid or remove the problem. For example, why would you study in your room when constant interruptions occur? Thus, part of your study plan might include strategies to avoid disruptions. Plan to study in a quiet location. Monitoring and evaluating your studying: If you consistently perform poorly in a subject, you need to quickly assess the problem. Either you don’t have the prerequisites for the course (fairly unlikely), or you need to change the


amount of studying or the quality of studying. You can monitor your performance two ways. First, use the time management matrix from the appendix to monitor your performance. At the end of a seven-day period count the number of quality hours you spent studying (including reading) for each day. You should have spent about 4-5 hours each day. Then tally the number of hours you spent each day for each hour. Do this for Monday through Friday. For example, assume you don’t have any classes scheduled from 9-10:00. How many quality hours during the week did you study during this time block? By tallying the hours down the columns you assess your daily productivity. By tallying the hours across a row you assess your hourly productivity. This exercise is invaluable because you can assess your productivity very quickly. Once you have made these tallies we suggest you employ the “4P” monitoring strategy included in the appendix to evaluate your time management effectiveness. You can also assess your time management practices by answering the questionnaire in the appendix. Fill in this questionnaire each week. Use these data to assess your performance



1. A Personal PactComplete this matrix at the end of each week by using the following rating scale. Almost always true of me 1 True of me Sometimes True/ Not true Sometimes not true of me 3 4 Almost never true of me 5


Achieve grades A-C Change worst course to best course Study for 25-30 hours a week Use daytime hours Spend quality time Change poor perform. Learn one study strategy a week








2. Time Management Planning Matrix

Mon 6:00 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00










2:00 3:00 4:00 5:00 6:00 7:00 8:00 9:00 10:00 11:00


3. The “4P” strategy Set your watch alarm for 11:00 P.M. Use you time management matrix to answer the following “P” questions: __1. Am I proud of my performance today? __2. As a parent, would I send my son or daughter to college knowing that my son or daughter performed the way I did today? __3. Do I believe in wasting taxpayer’s money? Would I continue to pay taxes to support people in jobs to behave the way I did today? Goofing off wastes a lot of taxpayer’s money. __4. If I were a personnel director, would I hire myself the way I behaved today? Note: While you might find the 4P strategy to be a pain-in-the neck, we believe you will find the questions highly provocative-perhaps even scary. Given you answers to these 4 questions, develop strategies to change your unproductive time management practices. Pretend you are not you. You are another student. Pretend that you didn’t answer these questions. Your friend answered these questions. What advice would you give your friend to improve his/her study habits? After you give your “friend” advice, follow it. If you don’t do this and procrastinate, you’ll have problems.

4. A Checklist to Monitor your Time Management Strategies
Use the following 5-point scale (1=always; 3=sometimes; 5=never) to rate yourself on each the criteria listed below. Place your rating in front of each statement in the space provided. Rating: __1. I used the morning hours (8:00-12:00) for studying. __2. I used the afternoon hours (12:00-5:00) for studying. __3. I studied approximately 2 hours outside of class for every hour in class for academic subjects. __4. For most of the hours when I studied I produced clear products. __5. I avoided cramming by distributing my studying time among my courses. __6. When I studied, I maintained my attention and rarely daydreamed. __7. I developed effective study plans for each course. __8. I made a written daily schedule for studying. __9. I easily managed obstacles that were likely to interfere with studying. __10. I maintained a healthy balance between effective studying and fun time. __11. I consistently monitored how effectively I study.


Smart questions
Have you ever thought about what a test question really measures? Test questions measure whether you can recognize or recall detailed information about a topic the professor or text has covered in class. Less frequently you are asked to take a position about the information you were presented. In either case, wouldn’t it be nice if you could predict exam questions in advance of the test? By applying the “smart question” procedure outlined below you will be well on your way to do just that.
Smart questions are questions students generate before they review for exams. These questions help students identify important content, organize the course content, identify important relationships among the topics and supporting details, predict exam content and increase studying efficiency. Students can use the smart question strategy for any type of exam except courses requiring procedures and calculations (i.e., calculus, physics, accounting, and statistics). These “smart questions” cover almost all the questions you can expect on a test.

After investigating many exam questions from many different departments, we have discovered six basic types of questions (excluding procedural courses). 1. Definition/example: 1. What is the definition of...? 2. Provide an example of... 3. What is this an example of...? (recognize new example) 2. Describe the structure or function: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Describe the organizational structure of....What belongs with what?) Describe the important characteristics of...? What is connected to...? What are all the components, dimensions, or phases of the topic? Describe what happened. 3. Explain the structure or functions(s) : 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Explain how it happened... Explain why it happened... What would happen if ... How does A affect B? (e.g., cold affects the body) How is B affected? (e.g. what was this the result of?) What are the potential cause and effect relationships between...? Explain the purpose of... 4. Compare/contrast structure or function: 1. 2. 3. 4. How is this similar to....?(in a matrix) How is this different than....?(in a matrix) What are the advantages/disadvantages of..?(already stated) What are the strengths/weaknesses of...?(already stated)


5. Trace the sequence of: 1. What is the sequence of the stage or process of…? 2. How did this change? 3. What are the steps or phases of...? 6. Significance/implications 1. Why is this important? 2. What are the implications? 3. Personal evaluation: a) advantages/disadvantages of..?(not stated) b. strengths/weaknesses of...?(not stated) 4. Do you agree/disagree--Why? 7. Summarize: Below are listed the major steps to summarize content. 1. Identify main idea-topic 2. Identify the main supporting details 3. Combine 4. Leave out details

Note: To use the “smart question” strategy effectively you need to record quality notes. You should attend the workshop on note taking. In that workshop you will be shown how to generate smart questions from notes.