Activities for College Students to Improve Time Management Skills

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College is the next stepping stone after school life. In school life, students learn a lot of skills and develop their personalities. These skills are put to test in colleges. It is when adolescence hits the peak. Students realize their strengths and weaknesses. These few years of college are incredibly crucial as students discover themselves inside out. They assess their caliber and capability.

As students grow older, their academic and social life become increasingly convoluted. This convolution can make it difficult for these young minds to navigate through, resulting in poor academic performance, lack of sleep, anxiety, and stress. Students need to strike the right cord between all the aspects of their student life by curating time-based schedules depending on requirements and priorities.

Why is time management essential for college students?

College students are exposed to various activities and exercises daily that help them hone their skills. Concepts such as algebra and trigonometry are introduced at an early level and advance through the college years. Between all these activities, hobbies, interests, co-curricular activities, and academics getting more complex with time, it is natural to mismanage. However, it must be rectified. 

In the previous era, time seemed to pass by slowly. While many of us still yearn for it, the participation of each individual in the contemporaries of the western and revolutionized world demands skill full people. It is natural to feel burdened. The question here is, what distinguishes successful students from the rest of the lot? Not just time management but most importantly, effective time management. Managing time well remains one of the most valuable skills ever. Improvising this skill can make room for many other things that students may not pursue otherwise. 

What is effective time management? 

Time management is the process of effectively organising, scheduling, and managing time. You are the sole controller of how you spend your time regulating your energy amidst several essential activities. Mastering this will help in avoiding procrastination and get the best results. Set small deadlines for yourself to complete day-to-day activities. 

Here are some more benefits of being able to manage time effectively:

  1. Stress-free student life

Nobody performs well under excess pressure or at the nick of a deadline. Students must accustom themselves to manage the stress and also be highly productive at the same time. When the workload is enormous, time management skills come in handy. This skill dictates the path, ensuring reasonable productivity rates with no stress to mental and physical health.

  1.  Time Freedom

If you can tackle your time effectively, you can prioritize your tasks based on their importance and that way; you are left with time to commit to more meaningful and long-term goals. Effective time management catalyzes the completion of enormous tasks in lesser time. It leaves you with surplus time, thus improving your focus and allowing room for recreational activities or hobbies.

  1. Better focus
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Good time management teaches you to work smarter. You begin focusing on the results rather than the process, thus effectively increases your focus. A better focus yields better productivity. You also learn the art of prioritization; wherein, you segregate tasks based on the importance of completion. The ability to make such decisions is what most students lack. 

  1. No more procrastination

Procrastination is directly linked to incompetent time managerial skills. When you lack clarity, your focus disperses, leading you to procrastinate even the simplest of things. Your excess workload begins controlling you, and when it is the peak, you tend to procrastinate. Although, if you learn the art of time management, you automatically gain the ability to control the workload.

  1. Builds teamwork

When working in a team, students with different abilities come together and strive towards achieving a common goal. Besides the skills that each individual possesses, the time management skills of all team members must sync. These play an essential role. To achieve their purpose, they must manage working within the deadline, for which they have to collectively manage their time and workload. Since time management is directly linked to productivity, any group must fasten their belts and work smartly.

How to inculcate time management skills within college students?

Time management is also one of the crucial parts of most academic curriculums. 

There have been several theories around time management in the past. For instance, the Pomodoro Technique emphasizes on completion of tasks in intervals of 25 minutes. On the other hand, Parkinson’s Law exclaims setting proactive deadlines boosts productivity by nearly 40%.

Although this skill can be taught to college students in several ways, games and activities remain the most popular. Through games and activities, not only will they learn the skill, but they will also retain it. 

Here is a list of six activities that will teach time management skills to college students.

  1. Time squared

This game gives your students a reality check on how they spend their day. It is a creative way to give them a heads up about their time allocating and prioritizing abilities. Prepare three sheets of 24 squares each. These 24 squares each represent an hour of the day. 

Give the students the first sheet and ask them to mark their routine on the sheet. Say, for example, sleeping consists of eight hours to draw sleeping emojis in four squares. Next, please give them the second sheet and ask them to fill out their leisure hours like movies, video games, etc. Hand them the last sheet, which is the summary of the first two. The squares that remain uncolored are their unproductive hours. 

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Takeaways:  Focus on re-analysing their schedule, increasing productivity

  1. What I did yesterday

This game narrows down the efforts that students put into various activities. By the end of the game, they will know if their efforts are worthwhile or not. 

time management activities for college students

Hand over two sheets of paper to each student. In the first sheet, ask them to note down a list of ten activities they regularly did in the last two years that would value designing their future. Next, in the second sheet, ask them to fill in five things that they want to see in their future. It can be academic-related things or non-academics. 

Now, ask them to compare both the sheets and establish a link between the two. Students will learn of some activities that have little or absolutely no importance in their near future. 

Takeaways: Modifying daily schedule, increased efficiency.

  1. Time wasters

Divide your students into groups of four. Prepare a list of some chores that are deemed as ‘time-wasters.’ For example, your list can contain ‘watching youtube videos of funny animals.’ 

time management activities for college students

Now write these time-wasters behind each envelope and place cue cards inside them. Hand the groups one envelope each and ask them to figure out a solution for the time waster and write it on the cue card provided. Circulate each envelope among all the teams, and at the end of the game, read out all the solutions and decide the best one. 

Takeaways: Learning to deal with distractions, increasing focus on mental health.

  1. The Mayo Jar lesson

Divide the students into groups. Allocate each team with a mayonnaise jar, pebbles, golf balls, and sand. Ask the teams to fill the mayo jar with all the items they are provided, such that no item is left out. Now, the correct order to do is to start by filling the jar with golf balls, pebbles, and lastly, sand. If any other order is used, there shall be no room for all items. 

After the game, explain to the students that the golf balls represent the most critical and high-priority tasks. The pebbles represent tasks that can take a back seat for the time being. And lastly, the sand represents everything else, including leisure. 

This activity is best favored by the Pickle Jar Theory of time management. 

Takeaways: Learning to prioritise tasks, categorising tasks based on their importance

  1. The race to the ace of space

This activity is handed over to students individually. Bring in two decks of cards. You have to organise one of the decks with all cards facing one direction and arranged from Aces to Kings. The other deck of cards is relatively unorganised with no uniformity. The cards are randomly arranged, facing different directions. 

time management activities for college students

Choose two volunteers and ask them to find the ace of spades. Unless luck is on his side, the volunteer with the first deck of cards finds the ace of spades immediately. The second volunteer may, however, complain of a lack of fairness in the game. However, the takeaway is interesting. The unorganised deck symbolizes non-prioritizing tasks and randomly working on them. They take plenty of time, ultimately leading to students wasting their time. The organised deck symbolizes tasks organised based on their priority.

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Takeaways: Understanding the importance of organisation, unblocking time for high-priority tasks

  1. Animal Origami

Divide the students into groups of five. Elect a team leader for each group and take them away from the group. Teach them any origami of your choice, preferably an animal origami that can stand flat on the ground. 

Next, take them to the rest of the class and instruct them to teach their group members to make the same animal origami. Hand them four sheets of paper.

Give them the following instructions:

  • They must make 40 origami.
  • The shape and size of each origami are essential.
  • No extra sheets will be provided.
  • The maximum allotted time is 15 minutes.

Students will begin working in groups. At the end of 15 minutes, they will realise that each one has different abilities. Quick learners would have already categorised the entire task into subtasks based on the ability of each team member. Such a team succeeds in completing the task.

Takeaways: Time management, team building.

Wrapping up,

Time management activities and games are true eye-openers. With simple games and activities, students can correlate the instances to real-life scenarios and tackle them effectively. 

Efficient time management application in day-to-day life starts from the teacher – organised teaching, timely reviews, timely PTAs, and organised classroom structure. Such practical examples of time management demonstrate the necessity of acquiring such skills.

Several reputed universities now include special sessions such as workshops and guest lectures on requirements and inculcation of time management skills. Acquiring such skills is good for boosting one’s curriculum vitae.


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