“Time is a river of passing events, and strong is its current.”

clock_prague_dorbolo_2010This observation by Marcus Aurelius is apropos to students who frequently feel swept away by the swift turbulence of the academic term.

To succeed in school and life you need to manage time, which ultimately means managing yourself.

The most powerful tool that I know of at OSU for managing your time is the academic coaching program available at the Academic Success Center in 102 Waldo Hall.

At no cost students may meet with an academic coach in order to organize tasks and schedules, then meet regularly to maintain progress.

Outside of the university this service is expensive and worth it, so taking advantage of it now is an excellent investment in your academic and professional future.

If tracking time and tasks is a challenge for you, consider the Calendar from People Systems, available at the Beaver Store (15.95). It is a 53 week calendar book without pre-set dates so that you can start at any time with templates for recording tasks, priorities, resources and notes.

I keep an online calendar and also keep a paper calendar book because the combined methods help me to synchronize my information which leads to less error.

A wealth of mobile and desktop apps are available for time and task management. The challenge consists in finding a solution that fits your situation and does not become a chore to use; Here are some options to explore.

Cross-platform and cloud apps include the industrial strength MyLifeOrganized (9.99-29.99/yr.) to the simpler Wunderlist (free) and Any.do (free); iPhone and iPad support Due (4.99) and Timeful (free); Android users may find Tasks (free) and Google Keep (free); Windows Phone 8 has Effectual (free) and Get it Done (free).trello

My preferred project organizer is Trello (free); I will organize workshops and webinars for students and faculty on this topic (note: everyone in the world is welcome to TAC webinars).

As important as it is to organize time and activity many people experience the frustration of consistently running up against deadlines and out of time; where does the time go?

Figuring out how you use your time is crucial to effective self-management and there are many time-use tracking applications, most of which are oriented towards business contexts but a clever student could use any of these to produce an analysis of personal time and resource utilization; which really just means what you do with the time that you have.

Some cross-platform apps for desktop and mobile are Klok (free), RescueTime (free) and ManicTime (free); for iOS there are Atracker (free), Eternity (4.99) and Timely (free); Android users may look for Toggl (free), Yast (free) and Timesheet (free); Windows phone 8 supports ONTRACK (2.99) and Time to Harvest (free).

Time trackers only work if you are consistent and honest with your time-logging, which if done for a month will give you the general patterns that allow for deliberate change; consciousness leads to control.tomato_timer_83x100

When you know what you need to do and how much time you have to do it, you may apply a powerful productivity technique called Pomodoro.

Pomodoro is Italian for “tomato” and in Italy kitchen times look like tomatoes, so this technique centers on using a timer; it is especially effective for counter-acting procrastination.

Here is how to apply the Pomodoro technique:

A. choose task to be done – such as a class assignment

B. set the timer to 25 minutes (that’s “venticinque” in Italian)

C. Work on the task until the timer rings;

D. take a short 3 minute stretch break. repeat steps B, C and D two more times; E take a 15 minute break.

E. do the whole process again.

At the end of this you have worked 2.5 hours plus 24 minutes break time, so it all took 3 hours – repeat the process or move on to another task.

Do Pomodoro every day and your productivity will increase significantly.

Several mobile and desktop applications help apply Pomodoro technique to different situations; look carefully at apps before committing to one as some are multi-featured and some are just timers.

For Windows and Mac desktop FocusBooster is a full-featured program (29.99/yr.); iOS options include Vitimin-R (29.99), Focus Time (4.99), Pomodoro Pro (2.99), Promodoro (.99) and Simple Pomodoro Timer (free); Android users may look for Pomodoro Timer Pro (1.99) and ClearFocus (free); Windows Phone 8 supports Pomodoro Technique (.99) and Task Tomato (free).

You can find a hardware only Promodoro timer for .77 at a discount store.

mindbloomIf the above techniques seem too linear or you still have motivation issues, consider the approach of making it all a game.

HabitRPG lets you set tasks for which you get rewards as you progress.

MindBloom takes a holistic approach to tasks in which you grow a metaphorical tree by fulfilling aspects of yourself while listening to soothing music.super_better

SuperBetter is about self-improvement, but the “create your own adventure” features could be used to structure academic tasks.

Time waits for no one, but by taking a little time to analyze your uses of time, organize your objectives and apply time management technique, you will find that you have more time than you think and will make better use of it.