One of the most important time management habits you need to develop is taking good notes in class. This habit will save you a great deal of time, as well as help you learn a lot more in the long run. For many high school and college students, note taking is one area in which they really drop the ball, especially in larger classes where it is easier to feel anonymous and get distracted. The fact that so many schools now have wireless Internet makes the problem far worse because many students bring their laptops to class. Theoretically, when students open their computers in a classroom, they should be taking notes. Far too many of them, however, are unable to resist the temptations of the Internet and spend the class playing online games, emailing, checking Facebook, etc.
Without a doubt, this is not a plan for academic success. If you are one of those students who finds it difficult to avoid surfing the Internet on your laptop during class, it would be best to leave your computer at home or in the dorm and go back to taking notes the old fashioned way, with pencil and paper. Otherwise, you are missing out on too much important information. When it comes to exam time, what the teacher or professor discusses in the classroom is going to be far more important than the reading material in textbooks. At a minimum, classroom discussions are going to be equally as important as the textbook material, and it is imperative that you not only pay attention, but also take good notes.
There is no denying that taking lots of notes in class can get boring and tedious, but the rewards are well worth it. When it comes time for study and review, it is much faster to find a point stressed by the teacher when you have made a note of it, rather than having to hunt it down in your textbook. In addition, the very act of writing (or typing) the notes makes it much more likely that you will absorb and retain the material. Furthermore, you will retain it for a longer period of time than if you had simply listened in class but did not take notes. There has been a lot of research in this area over the decades, and the verdict is clear: Students who take notes retain much more knowledge of material discussed in the classroom than those who do not take notes. When it comes to note taking, there is simply no room for debate. If you choose not to take notes in class, you will learn less, and your time spent studying will be much less efficient. It may be boring and old fashioned, but taking notes works, and it is a real time saver. Do not neglect this important time management tool.
A Primer on Taking Good Notes (pdf)
Cornell Note Taking System (For Lecture or Reading)
Taking Good Notes in Lectures (pdf)
Increase Your Reading Speed
Some people love to read, while others consider it nothing but drudgery, with most people falling somewhere in between. No matter where you fall on the love-of-reading spectrum, it is simply a fact of life in high school or college that you are going to be doing a lot of reading. Reading textbooks, assigned books, and other class materials is going to occupy a major portion of your time, yet reading is one area in which it is possible to see some major time saving with a little effort. For effective time management, you will want to become as efficient at reading as possible.
Of course, it is pointless to increase your reading speed if doing so causes you to retain less of what you read. There are several methods of learning to speed read, and they all claim that your retention actually gets better. How do you learn to speed read? Well, there are several options. Some of them cost money, but others are free. At one time, speed reading courses were offered all over America by a company named Evelyn Wood; classes usually took place in hotel conference rooms and cost a few hundred dollars. These days, Evelyn Wood offers their product online, as do several other companies. Costs vary, so check out several before deciding on one method. A quick Internet search will reveal a wide variety of options.
If you are on a tight budget, do not despair. There are several books on the market which explain the principles of speed reading, and you can probably find a few of these books at a public library. If your local library does not have any, ask a librarian if you can use interlibrary loan to borrow titles from libraries all over the country. To narrow down your list, go to Amazon and do a search for books on the topic and then check out the reviews that each one has gotten. This should enable you to come up with a couple titles to seek out from the library (or purchase used if you wish).
Some of these books and courses make remarkable claims of being able to increase your reading speed up to one thousand percent. That is probably not typical and would almost certainly require weeks of concentrated effort. However, doubling or tripling your reading speed is certainly realistic, as most people, even book lovers, are very inefficient readers. With just a few tips, you can increase your reading speed by one or two hundred percent, and this could free up several hours a week on your schedule. It is not hard to do at all, and does not take long to learn. Increasing your reading speed is one of the most powerful time management tactics you can use.
Have A Weekly Review Session
You have heard it said a thousand times: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Just as is the case with most all cliches, there is much truth in this one. Actually, in this case, it could probably be more accurately expressed by saying that the road to failure is paved with good intentions. Everyone who enrolls in a college or university, as well as almost everyone in high school, intends to do well, and that certainly includes you. You would not be reading this if you were not looking for a way to achieve academic success. Unfortunately, many of these students wind up either dropping out or coming nowhere close to achieving the high goals they set for themselves.
Do not think this cannot happen to you. Even if you decide you are going to follow every time management idea on this website, that is not enough. Deciding to do something and doing it are two different things entirely. It is easy to set goals, plans, and schedules at the beginning of the semester or school year when you are full of ambition and feeling positive about the upcoming year. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to maintain this dedication throughout the year and stay on track for accomplishing all your goals. However, there is a time management technique that can help you stay focused and on track, and that is the weekly review session.
At the end of every week, set aside 15 to 30 minutes to look back at your weekly goals, daily planners, and to-do lists and take an honest look at how close you came to fulfilling your plans. If you did well, then take pride in your accomplishment and look forward to meeting a brand new week head on. If there were areas in which you did not live up to your goals, ask yourself what the hindrances were. Are you scheduling enough study time? Are you taking on too many commitments? Are you failing to maintain a regular sleep schedule, leaving you exhausted in the mornings? Be honest with yourself, admit your weaknesses, and face the fact that you have some changes to make.
Maybe you will even need to revise your weekly goals and daily planners if you are trying your best and you are not able to keep up. No problem; do not beat yourself up over it. The point of the weekly review session is not to leave you depressed or feeling guilty; instead, it is to renew your focus on your weekly and daily steps to meeting your goal of academic excellence during the semester or school year. Just decide what changes to make and then make them, aiming for your best in the coming week. After a few weeks of this, you will hit your stride, and your weekly review sessions will be a lot shorter, and a lot more positive. However, no matter how successful you are at reaching your daily and weekly goals, do not ever skip the weekly review session. It helps keep your eye on the big picture, and it is critical to your success.