The Academic Success Center

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Time Management

This section provides information about getting (and staying) organized, and managing your time to be more productive.

How can I avoid procrastination?

The Pomodoro Method

When we’re looking at a mass of work, it’s hard to imagine scaling such a mountain. Breaking it down into smaller tasks can help, but even that can be difficult when all you see is the mountain in front of you.

When you feel the anxiety rising, try a simpler strategy — the pomodoro method. Named for a pomodoro (tomato) timer, it involves simply setting a timer to work on something for a small amount of time, such as 20 minutes. 20 minutes is doable, right? With the simple task of working on something for 20 minutes, two important things are likely to happen: the anxiety diminishes enough for you to get going, and when your 20 minutes are up, you’re on a roll and don’t want to stop. This simple time management strategy can do wonders.

  1. Make a list of things to get done today and choose a task to work on first
  2. Set a timer for 20 minutes
  3. Begin working with no distractions - put your phone on silent and out of sight
  4. When the timer goes off, record your progress so far and take a 5 minute break
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 and after every fourth break, take a longer 15-30 minute break.
  6. Repeat this process as many times as you need to finish your list!
How should I prioritize my time?

Time Management Tips

It’s important to know when you are most productive so that you can concentrate on completing your tasks. Sticking to a routine will help you cope with unexpected changes, form healthy habits, and reduce stress levels. Let’s take a look at some tips on developing good time management.

Plan ahead by creating a to-do list.

  • Check the syllabus and Moodle
  • Ask clarifying questions on course materials
  • Identify what you need to do.
  • Prioritize your tasks based on when assignments are due and how much time you need to complete the assignment.
  • Start with shorter to-do items and then move on to longer assignments.
    • What can you complete in the shortest time?
    • What will take you the longest to complete?

Set short term goals:
Establishing a clear goal will help you stay motivated and have a sense of control in the college experience.

  • It’s important to establish good, clear goals
    • Example: Goal is to get to a “B” on the second exam. 
  • Set a realistic timeline
    • Example: When is the second exam? Plan to study 2 weeks in advance.
  • Make a plan
    • How do you intend to reach that goal?
    • Example: I plan to meet with a tutor to discuss the areas I don’t understand after every class period. I also plan to study for 2 hours every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday two weeks in advance. 
  • Check your progress to make sure the steps you are taking are along the route to reaching your goal.
    • Example: I’ll create a fake test every Sunday to see if I am understanding the materials I studied or learned in class.

Utilize a planner or Google calendar to organize your week:

  • Plan 2 weeks in advance.
  • Don’t focus solely on deadlines
    • Make time to complete other tasks such as reading before the class.
    • Add study time to your calendar.
  • Don't forget to add breaks
  • Work on 2-3 subjects a day
    • Create a detailed to-do list to help you manage your assignments.
  • With harder courses, work on those courses for 2 hours at least 4 times a week.
  • Spreading your course work will help you de-stress and avoid burnout.

When creating a Google Calendar to organize your classes and assignments.

  • Add all deadlines for the entire semester to your calendar and make sure they stand our among other information
  • Add all live session (synchronous) courses and in-person courses
  • For traditional online courses (asynchronous), add an hour and a half to two hour blocks, two to three times a week to complete the work required
  • Add other academic commitments such as advising and tutoring appointments
  • Add personal commitments such as work hours and family obligations
How can I get (and stay) organized?

Youtube Video: Simple organization system for school/work/life | Google Keep & Calendar

Google Calendar

A key G Suite tool for organizing your schedule is Google Calendar. This calendar tool integrates well with Gmail and other G Suite apps, so you can easily keep track of your assignments, appointments, important dates, to-do lists, and more. The main two features you need to understand are how to create an event and how to create a calendar. For step-by-step directions, see page 4 of the OU Digital Organization and Productivity page.

What are some apps and websites I can use for focusing and being productive?

Cold Turkey - app/chrome extension that can block distracting websites, apps, games for a specified time or until you type a certain amount of text.

Tide - multi-use app/chrome extension that allows you to set a timer and includes calming soundscapes. When used on your phone, there is a “focus” feature that you fail if you leave the app. Also includes mindfulness tips and techniques.

Forest - app/chrome extension that helps with focus - at the start of a study session, you “plant” a tree in your forest. If you leave the app before your study time is up, your tree dies.

Todoist - app/chrome extension that allows you to create nested lists and organize different projects/classes.