Time Management Tips For College Students

There are some subjects that are simply torture to look up on the Internet, research in books and podcasts. Those subjects include things such as motivation, dating tips, advice for having sex, tips on curing insomnia and tips for time management. Why is it torture looking them up? Because people think they know best, and there are some really dumb, deluded and downright insulting people that have managed to get jobs out of giving very crappy or very obvious advice. People that should know better, such as those with letters after their name, are telling people with insomnia to put on relaxing music, which is the same as telling a raging psychotic to “take a chill pill and chillax.” This article rises above the rest and gives you advice that is actually going to help you and that you will not read elsewhere.

Does such an introduction imply that this article is somehow above the rest of the online sludge about time management? Yes, but considering the competition, then even a mildly useful tip is worth a bundle. But, enough poetry, bragging and outright anger at the work of other people. Here is a time management tip that at first doesn’t appear to be a time management tip, and yet highly effective people use it to help stop procrastination, time wasting and help them become more efficient--here’s how.

Highly effective people develop positive habits

Want the technical description for this tip, it is: develop and cultivate self-serving aka positive personal habits purposefully so that you manage your time semi-autonomously.

As a human, you are a creature of habit. Your brain is wired to form habits. They are part of a survival instinct that most animals have, and they reward behavior that we find personally pleasurable. It is why that as lateral thinking humans we are so prone to picking up bad habits--they are bad but because they are pleasurable on a conscious level, we turn them into habits--even though sometimes we don’t want to.

You can use your hard wiring to your benefit, and highly effective people do this. You may have read about it in different formats, such as by using neuro-linguistic programming or autosuggestion to help you do certain things every day. What these people are suggesting is nothing more than trying to create a habit, but we can cut the bologna and consciously create a positive habit.

Athletes create positive habits all the time

There is a reason their trainer tells them to drink two pints of water when they wake up, or jog every morning at 9am. They tell them to do it routinely because the routine helps to create a habit. As you may expect, if that same athlete goes on holiday and wakes up at 11am, then that person craves two pints of water. That person will also feel sluggish because he or she didn’t go for a jog that morning.

Turn boring tasks that soak up your productive time into habits

You can create positive habits and turn chores and mundane tasks into something you just do without thinking about. To test the theory out, try an easy one that smaller office managers use. At the end of every day, the small office manager cleans the office. He or she says that it is better because the next day all the staff come in to a clean office, and after a while it becomes a habit and the manager doesn’t even realize that he or she is dedicating time to cleaning after the working day is done. Papers find their way to the recycling as the manager comes back from the bathroom, coffee mugs are cleaned as he/she task his/her last cup of Joe, and before he or she knows it the office is clean.

Try it for yourself

You can try this too by cleaning your dorm room every time you are planning to finish work. You may decide not to work after 8pm, or may make a rule that after every study session you have to clean. No matter what your own rules are, all you have to do is force yourself to comply for the first ten to fifteen times. After that, you will start cleaning the room after work or after your study session automatically. You will hardly notice you are doing it, and you will not feel inconvenienced by it.

How do you know if your new task has turned into a habit?

You can recognize it is a habit by the fact that you do it without even thinking about it. It is like walking to lectures--you know the way, you don’t need a map, you know what time you need to be there, and often you walk there and cannot remember the trip because your mind was elsewhere. Your mind wasn’t on the task but you still got there, and that is the benefit a positive habit can have.

The benefits of a positive habit

You can learn how to habitually do mundane tasks that you put off, which means you do not waste time procrastinating and do not waste time finding excuses not to do them (because you just do them). They reward you on a deep psychological level because your brain is hardwired to reward habitual behavior to the point where habitually reading a chapter of your textbook at 9pm every night becomes pleasurable on a deep and basic level. It offers a comfort that comes through your brain rewarding your conscious mind for feeding a habit.

One of the biggest benefits is that if you understand habits then you can un-learn some of your worst ones. If you are clever then you can unlearn things such as slouching and biting your nails by recognizing and correcting your behavior (i.e. habitually learning the opposite of your bad habit).

Start small to test yourself

As stated above, start with something small such as learning to clean your room either at a certain time every Monday, Thursday or Sunday, or habitually after a key event such as after you update your blog every week or work on your essay. Then start building habits to help you manage your time. Concentrate on tasks that you put off, waste time with or feel that you do too slowly. These are areas where building positive habits will increase your efficiency and give you more time in your day.