For many reasons, time management is an important practice. A well-planned schedule can help you avoid over-commitment, maintain a healthy balance of work and pleasure, and set realistic goals and expectations.

However, the act of planning time may be a challenge in and of itself. Where and how do you begin? How much time should you allow for certain tasks? How much can you reasonably incorporate into your schedule while still avoiding burnout? These questions may be especially pressing for college freshmen, who may be new to managing their own time. Similarly, people embarking on a new stage in life (for example, taking on an internship or beginning a graduate program) may be seeking information that can help guide their expectations. In these cases, it can be extremely helpful to seek advice from those who have been in their place before, and successfully achieved the goals they’re setting for themselves.

In the Instructor’s Resource Manual for her book Student Success in College: Doing What Works!: A Research-Focused ApproachChristine Harrington offers a “Time Management Interview” activity that can help your students gather best practices for time management, straight from others who have faced similar academic challenges. If your students aren’t freshmen, you can adapt these questions to suit their particular situations.

Encourage students early in the term to “interview” an upper classman about how they handle college demands and manage their time. Here are some questions they may wish to ask:

  • How and when do you study?
  • What do you now do differently than you did when you first started college?
  • What advice do you have for freshmen in regards to study skills and time management?
  • What resources on campus have you used that have helped you be successful in school?

Once their interviews are completed, ask students to discuss their findings with the class, looking for themes of effective time management strategies. (p. 26)

Reference: Harrington, Christine. 2013. Instructor’s Resource Manual for Student Success in College: Doing What Works! A Research-Focused Approach. Boston: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

What are your best practices for time management? Share your ideas below or send them to thinktank@cengage.com. You can find additional tips from our earlier posts on time management.