As summer winds down and the academic year comes ever closer to launch, it’s time to start thinking about how to succeed in your nursing program. Time management is one of the best tools you can have for keeping everything under control for back to school.

Preparation is one requirement to a successful school year, but it takes time and planning to reach your set goals. Students need to be willing to assess the requirements of all their courses and merge that with obligations outside the classroom. Frequently, time management is as important as study skills, so making it a priority will give you control over all you have to do.

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Here are some tips to get into the habit of making the most of the time you have available.

Map Your Schedule

Find and use the organization method that works best for you. Whether you’re using an app, a spreadsheet, specialized software, or a piece of paper, just pick an approach and use it every day without fail. Some students find that organizing the day in blocks helps–that can be 15-minute blocks or chunks of several hours at a time.

Include Everything

Do you prefer to designate your activities by color? Do you prefer to use separate sections for all your tasks? Will a timer help remind you about your schedule? Time management practices can look different for everyone.

Use color coding/section blocking methods to sort

  • courses and the work associated with each
  • commuting
  • work or lab schedule
  • time for meals, sleeping, relaxing, socializing, or exercising
  • chores including grocery shopping, laundry
  • childcare/family activities
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Set Aside Time
Now that you know how much time you need to devote to everything in the day, notice where you might need to work extra hard to carve out time for bigger projects. Some days will be busier than others, so evaluate open blocks of time to see how that time can help you finish all you need to do. Can you use an extra half hour between classes to email a professor or a your team about a project? Is your commute time good to catch up on reading or to outline the upcoming week?

Re-evaluate Your Progress
Every few weeks, check in with how you’re feeling. Are you overwhelmed and falling behind or are you managing to stay on track? If your schedule is busier than it has ever been, using the same time management methods that you have always used might not work now. If you aren’t sure what to do differently, reach out to your school’s academic services center for assistance. They are trained in helping students organize their time most effectively and have excellent resources to choose from.

It might take some trial and error to find the right time management approach, but the rewards will be great. As you gain more control over how you use your time, feel reduced stress, and see the positive results from it, you’ll be motivated to continue.

Julia Quinn-Szcesuil
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