Time Management Tips for Busy Graduate Students

Time Management

By: Aleasha Nelson, UWS doctor of chiropractic student

Work smarter not harder. Time management is easier said than done. Balancing classes, watching lectures, studying, connecting with family, maintaining a social life, and keeping an active lifestyle in a graduate program is a difficult task. 

Here are a few tips that can help make your time in a rigorous University of Western States program more manageable and enjoyable. 

Prioritize your calendar:  

  • Have a daily, weekly and/or monthly calendar whether it be on an app, paper, or whiteboard. This can be utilized to help organize your time. Write down all your term assignments, quizzes and exams for each class ….  as seeing all deadlines at a quick glance at any given time can make it easier to stay on top of studying.  
  • Having a daily to-do list can keep you on track of what you want to complete that day and help break down goals into manageable pieces. 
  • Color coordinating your schedule is a great way to keep your calendar looking clean and easy on the eyes! It can help you make sure you don’t accidentally miss something if everything is in the same color. 

Be honest with yourself about how you spend your time:  

  • Calculate the length of lectures that need to be watched for each class and write it on your calendar. This can be helpful to stay on top of lengthy lectures (even if you do speed them up, make sure to add extra time allowing you to pause the video to write down notes). 
  • If you are an on-campus student, account for commuting to and from the university, trips to the grocery store, gym, work, etc. Sometimes we can underestimate how much time everything will take, especially if you have a 7:30 a.m. lab or one that ends at 5:40 p.m. If you often find yourself stuck in rush hour traffic, plan your day accordingly. Use this time in the car commuting to re-listen to lectures, audio books or podcasts to help deepen your learning.
  • A 15-minute task can often turn into a couple hours if one is not careful. Be honest with yourself on how long it will take you to complete an assignment, work out or grab coffee with a friend as to not get stuck continually feeling behind. 

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle: 

  • When one is busy, sleep is often the first thing people cut out of their schedule because people tend to think they can just make it up another night. This isn’t healthy for your body or your mind. Professors will tell you to make sure to get a good night’s sleep before an exam and to not stay up all night studying. Your body and brain need time to rest. Factual recall will be challenging if your brain is foggy, you are running off a couple hours of sleep, and those three cups of coffee are all that’s fueling you.
  • Fuel your body with healthy meals. Wake up 10 minutes earlier to eat something for breakfast and set time aside to fuel yourself. Meal prepping over the weekends can be beneficial as you can then ensure you have a healthy meal set aside to quickly grab on a busier day instead of grabbing a burger from a fast-food restaurant. 
  • Exercise is another task people push to the side when busy but is so important. Even taking 10 minutes to step away from studying to go for a walk outside can give your mind a break and help you come back ready to focus.  
  • Make sure to block time on your daily planner for exercise, eating, and getting sufficient sleep. 

Learning time management isn’t easy! You may not complete your task list every day, but don’t be hard on yourself and get caught in disappointment. Prepare ahead by setting time aside each week for self-care and socializing to prevent that burned out feeling. You got this! Remember to just take it one day at a time as small changes add up over time.

If you would like to explore more options for time management or organizational techniques, visit the UWS Student Services webpage or contact the department at [email protected] or 503-251-2802.