Time Management: Training Jugglers
Postsecondary education is a uniquely exciting time full of new responsibilities. Students might be cooking for themselves for the first time, doing laundry, working, socializing, all within a new community. They are completely in charge of their own time and are up against a plethora of distractions that need juggling to achieve a well-balanced lifestyle.
There is no such thing as a born juggler; balancing different commitments requires intense coordination. For a trained juggler, such coordination is reflexive. It is automatic and habitual. Yet, for a novice postsecondary student, the prospect of juggling anything might seem overwhelming. The key to mastery of any skill is time, and if students can practice managing their schedules and becoming better coordinated before they become independent, the transition into postsecondary life will be much smoother and more successful.
Evoke’s Academic Writing and Learning Strategies program aims to help students hone the skills they need to excel in academic life. One of these essential skills is time management. Managing time reduces students’ reliance on adrenaline to fulfill commitments and creates space for them to plan. By planning ahead, students can be more present in their daily lives, and stressful moments—such as cramming information for a test during other classes—can be avoided outright by scheduling dedicated study time.
Students often cite their struggle to find time to access scholastic resources like faculty office hours as a barrier to accessing those resources at all (Cawthon & Cole, 2010). Poor time management—for example, not finding the time to ask a teacher for an extension before a due date—hinders access to academic support, which Kurth & Mellard found leads to increased feelings of isolation and incompetence (as cited in Cawthon & Cole, 2010). This, despite the finding that students who initiate contact with faculty and accommodation services report greater feelings of academic support (Cawthon & Cole, 2010). Part of Evoke’s mission is to help students help themselves, fostering the confidence to initiate communication and self-advocate for their needs.
A problem many students face, however, is not knowing what those needs are. Students who had individualized education plans in elementary, middle, or high school have been found to forget whether they had such accommodations (Cawthon & Cole, 2010). If they do not remember their accommodations, they cannot advocate for them. Students need to know both what accommodations they need to thrive and how they will fulfill those needs, be it through assistive technology, sitting at the front of the class to limit distractions, or initiating contact with faculty and appropriate services. Students will not always have their parents, guardians, or specific teachers to advocate on their behalf, so this specific knowledge of personal needs is essential for independent advocacy.
The same logic applies to time management. If a student knows the important commitments they cannot drop—for example, the need for time outdoors to support their mental health, the imperative of eight hours of sleep to feel rested, or that two hours will be required to complete a paragraph in a larger paper—they can structure their day to achieve those goals. Our Academic Writing and Learning Strategies program aims to help students articulate their needs and plan to fulfill and coordinate those goals and commitments like a master juggler.
Cawthon, Stephanie W., & Cole, Emma V. (2010). Postsecondary Students who have a Learning Disability: Student Perspectives on Accommodations Access and Obstacles, Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, Vol. 23(2), pages 112-128.