We all have a list of things we need to accomplish — and often, it seems that they all need to be done at the same time. Unfortunately, no one’s ever figured out how to add more hours to the day — but we can certainly find better ways to manage the twenty-four hours we do have.

How can you start building positive, productive habits that lead to more effective use of your time? Walter Pauk and Ross J. Q. Owens’ How to Study in College offers some suggestions that both you and your students can use to ensure you’re using your time to its fullest advantage:

  • Keep a log of your activities.Once you see how you spend your time, you become more aware of which habits help you achieve your daily or weekly goals… and you can eliminate the ones that work against you.
  • Set deadlines for each task that needs to be accomplished.When you complete that scheduled task, reward yourself with a refreshing break or a pleasurable activity (a walk to the coffee pot for a fresh cup might work!).
  • Refuse to be tethered to your smartphone or computer.Surfing the web, checking for texts or phone calls, or writing e-mail are not in and of themselves harmful activities. However, most of us can attest to how easy it is to lose track of time while sending off “just one” more message or clicking on “one more” link. Instead, manage your time by scheduling an appropriate amount of time for e-mail or Web browsing into your day. Then — as difficult as it is — stick to that schedule!
  • Take brief, regularly scheduled breaks throughout the day.These quick respites will help you restore your energy, and also serve as a small incentive as you work.
  • Pay attention to your body’s signals.When are you most alert? When are you the drowsiest? Take advantage of these “peaks and valleys” by planning your activities around these natural rhythms. (pp 27-30)

Reference: Content adapted from Pauk and Owens. How to Study in College, 10E Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.