Time Management Systems – and How to Use Them

Do you know you need a (better) time management system but aren’t sure where to begin? Check out these time management systems — and how best to use them during your time in college.

1. Your cell phone.

If the only time you don’t have your cell phone on you is while you’re in the shower, you might as well see if you can use the calendaring system that 

comes with your phone.

  • Pros: You always have it with you; you can often sync it with your computer or another calendaring system; you can set the alarm to recur for various events.
  • Cons: If you lose your phone you might really be in a jam; it can be hard to enter information, depending on your keyboard; the screen can be too small to see upcoming events or projects.

2. An Internet-based calendar, like Google Calendar.

Internet-based calendaring systems can be great if you’re constantly online and can access the Internet at nearly any time of the day.

  • Pros: You can update your data via the cloud; you can update from anywhere; there is very little chance of losing your data; you can share parts of your calendar with others for things like group assignments; some calendar systems will also let you automatically add an event from your email program, for example.
  • Cons: The website you use may go down at critical times; it can be hard to access in certain places that don’t have Internet access; some Internet-based/cloud calendars charge a fee.

3. A paper calendar.

Some might call you old-fashioned, but if using a paper calendar works best for you, then there’s no reason to mess with a classic.

  • Pros: Paper calendars often make things easier to jot down than electronic calendars; you can go outside of the pre-scripted format; paper calendars have more creativity and flexibility with things like color-coding or flagging pages with sticky notes.
  • Cons: It can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover data if your hard-copy calendar gets lost or damaged; it may not always be accessible; paper calendars are larger to carry around than other calendaring systems; you must write in everything instead of having things automatically updated or entered.

4. Smartphone apps.

There are a ton of calendar applications for your smart phone. The challenge here might be figuring out which one to pick if you think a calendar app will work best for you.

  • Pros: Calendar apps are often easy to use; you can sync them with other electronic programs, like email; some may be free; you can set alarms that will utilize your phone; you don’t have to carry around a separate calendaring system.
  • Cons: Some cost money or monthly fees; they may crash, leaving you without a good back-up system; it can be hard to enter data on a small phone screen and keyboard; it can also be hard to see larger time frames, like monthly calendars.

5. Time-tracking systems.

This may not be a daily/weekly calendaring system, but it can be a good way for you to keep track of your time on a very short-term basis. Consider using a program like Pomodoro or Screen Timer to keep you focused on certain projects and tasks.

  • Pros: These nifty programs can help keep you focused on a certain task for a pre-assigned amount of time; they can often be the kick you need to just finally do a certain task or project; they can help you realize how much of your time is spent on various activities throughout the day.
  • Cons: Unfortunately, you can sometimes end up spending more time tracking your time than just using it wisely; they may not mesh with your own working style; the constantly running stopwatch may make some people feel stressed.

Just like some students can rock a chemistry class while others excel in art history, different calendaring systems work better for different kinds of folks. Figuring out which one works best for you is often the biggest step, but as long as you keep trying and decide on something, any time management system can take your college life from chaotic or organized.