Time Management

Be efficient and productive in and out of the classroom.  

What is It?

We ask students to “Stay on Track.” How do you do the same as a teacher? A researcher? A collaborator? A person with a life outside of work?

Most of us struggle to manage our time in ways that reflect our priorities — we spend too much time on Facebook and not enough in books, too much time grading and not enough talking with each of our students.

Good news: there are tools out there to help you — and your students — manage your time better.

How Can I Use Time Management  in My Course Life?

There are a number of tools and techniques — together, practices — to help you manage your time in and out of the classroom.

To-Do Lists

Writing things down can help you keep track of and prioritize what you’re working on. There are a number of digital tools for making lists, setting reminders, and getting on a schedule. For starters, try Google Keep, which comes with your university email account. Todoist is also a good option.

Organize materials

Do you find yourself at the end of the day with a virtual desktop as messy as your physical one? Evernote is a powerful tool for organizing all your materials — from emails and pictures to articles, notes, and research. OneNote is another good option.

Stay focused  

Some of us need help just staying on task — and not on Facebook, Twitter, our favorite food blogs. Stay Focusd is a Google Chrome extension that lets you limit your own internet use. If what you need is some help staying on task while writing, try these distraction-free writing tools.

Work sessions  

How do you get everything done in a work session? Do you work in “sessions”? Try the Pomodoro Technique, which asks you to set a timer and work in a series of 25-minute sessions, without distraction. Work Sprints are another take on the same idea.

Bullet Journals

Bullet journals are analog notebooks for creating lists and organizing them according to a set system. Tips here. Hacks here.

Don’t repeat yourself

Are you duplicating your efforts by posting the same information to multiple places? HooteSuite is a web application that helps you connect all your social networks together.  If This, Then That is a bit more complicated, but a lot more powerful. You create recipes that connect your outlets to one another: if “this” (the trigger) then “that” (the action). For example, If you create a bookmark in Diigo (the trigger) it gets posted to Twitter (the action). You can also designate “ingredients” to further refine the recipe. For example, maybe you don’t want all of your Diigo bookmarks sent via Twitter, maybe you just want the bookmarks that are tagged with a certain class ID. You can customize each of your recipes so IFTTT makes exactly the right connection.

Questions and Considerations

Remember that tools don’t work without YOU. Take the time to explore options and choose the tools that are right for you. Look for a tool that you can trust — if you don’t trust the technology, you won’t use it. Next, customize the tool to work the way you work. Spend time learning how the tool works and let it push you to work differently too. Finally, as you use it, continuously reflect and revise your practices. If one day the tool is becoming more a burden than a help, be prepared to throw it out.

Finally, don’t let efficiency get in the way of invention. As important as it is to stay on task, some of the best ideas come from the unexpected meeting of things you’d never put together yourself. Stay flexible.

Research Foundations

Krumrei-Mancuso, E. J., Newton, F. B., Kim, E., & Wilcox, D. (2013). Psychosocial factors predicting first-year college student success.  Journal of College Student Development54(3), 247-266.

Shi, M., Bonk, C., & Magjuka, R. (2006). Time management strategies for online teaching.  International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning,  3(2), 3-10.

Spector, J. M. (2005).Time Demands in Online Instruction. Distance Education 26(1), 3-25.

Further Resources