Why are we talking about time management strategies for international students as opposed to just students in general? Well, as anyone studying abroad will happily tell you—being an international student tends to be a lot more hectic and demanding than studying back home. If the standard stresses of balancing your academic, social, and personal lives were not difficult enough, then wait until you throw money management, learning a foreign culture/language, and navigate a new area into the mix. Needless to say, being a foreign student can be quite tricky.
But fear not! We have managed to compile the seven best tips for managing one’s time as an international student. While you might have already been aware of some of these, we hope that at least two or three will jump out as creative solutions to issues that you have been struggling with. Our goal is to help you take better control of your time so that you paradoxically feel more free both in your academic work as well as leisure time.
Without further ado, let us get started!
This tip could be said to be the most important and the foundation for all of the others. Of all time management strategies for international students, scheduling is the one we can certainly almost universally recommend. Very few people are able to successfully get through their day following their whims and instincts, and if they do, the results are often stressful and chaotic. Planning out when you are going to do things ahead of time as well as for how much time you expect to spend on each task can make a world of difference in your ability to navigate your new life.
A lot of time crunches and spells of procrastination are caused by an inability to properly prioritize. Fortunately, most of us know which tasks are the most important and urgent to get done. The issue is that it is difficult to always make those our focus. Most of the following strategies will help you with this, but know that tackling your highest-priority obligations first will make your time less chaotic and provide you with a more systematic way of finishing your everyday tasks as well as long-term projects.
One of the biggest elements of time management strategies for international students is procrastination-busting. Putting off important tasks will quickly become the bane of any attempt you have at managing your time effectively if you let it get the best of you. One of the best strategies for combating procrastination is breaking up larger tasks or projects into smaller, more manageable chunks. This is because procrastination is often due to a feeling of being overwhelmed by the perceived scope of things like writing a research paper. By dividing such undertakings into smaller steps like doing a bit of research, coming up with an outline, or writing one page per day, you dispel the hold this illusion has over your mind.
A big part of your schedule working has to do with whether or not you stick to it. Deciding that you will be studying a subject from 4 to 5 pm is all well and good, but will you actually do it? To stay focused on tasks and do them justice so that you can utilize your leisure time for actual leisure activities, make sure to limit distractions and interruptions as much as possible, including those that come from electronic devices as well as other people.
One of the most important time management strategies for international students is the ability to decline invitations or suggestions. Quite often, we get stuck in a whirlpool of social obligations which leaves us little to no time to focus on our academic obligations, which then keep piling up and becoming an issue. Be aware that FOMO can often be misleading and that the world will not end if you prefer to spend the night in to turn in that important assignment.
Multitasking is the killer of productivity and time management. Though some people might think that they’re skilled multitaskers, in reality the human mind can really only focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking just makes you focus on lots of different things in quick succession, not at the same time. Therefore, it makes more sense to try and focus on a single task and complete it before fully dedicating your time to some proper rest and relaxation! Techniques such as the Pomodoro Method can be useful for this.
Finally, it is important to remember that the point of time management strategies for international students is not to turn you into a productivity robot who never has fun. On the contrary—it is only by taking full control of our time that we make sure we have the precious hours we need when the time comes to actually unwind. Therefore, being deliberate about scheduling leisure time and planning times for fun, relaxation, and hanging out with friends, not only ultimately makes you more productive, but also ensures your studies abroad leave you with some amazing memories.
You might have been reading some of these strategies and said to yourself: “Wow. That does not sound like something that would work for me.” That is okay! As much as we encourage students to experiment with all of the tips we have outlined here, it is also true that the same things do not work universally for everyone. For this reason, it is completely valid if you resonate with some of these strategies more than others. As long as you are happy and managing your time well, that is all that matters!