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Faculty and staff can help students stay on top of tasks and feel less stressed by promoting time for them to “get your life in order.”

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College students are frequently juggling multiple responsibilities, including coursework, jobs, family obligations and extracurricular activities. Four in 10 students say they feel overwhelmed or anxious about their academic workload or expectations, and a quarter face challenges with their time management skills, according to a February study from Anthology.

For a student caught in the middle of competing priorities, it can feel impossible to slow down or address everything at once. To help these students, college leaders can push them to “get their lives in order,” or GYLIO.

Also known as reset days, life admin days or a weekly reset, GYLIO is a designated period of time to help a person stay on top of routine chores and other tasks. This can help decrease organization-related anxieties and help students build time management skills to use throughout their college career and beyond.

What’s the need: Time management is frequently a sticking point with students. A 2023 Student Voice survey by Inside Higher Ed and College Pulse found 33 percent of students want help planning their schedules and they want social support or social structures to help with their time management skills. (When students were asked what supports could improve their time management, both resources were second only to a deadline organizer that combines syllabi information into one place).

Seventeen percent of students believe help with time management would allow them to attend more campus events, as well.

Employers also say time management is an important skill for students to build. A recent survey from Handshake and SHRM found students believe themselves slightly less capable in time management skills than HR professionals believe them to be.

Time management skills can help reduce students’ stress levels, promote their wellbeing and help build life skills that will benefit them in their on-campus engagement and careers.

How it works: During a GYLIO day, students dedicate time to identify and complete tasks on their to-do lists. This could be paying bills, doing laundry and cleaning their dorms as well as preparing for the week ahead, such as shopping for groceries or updating their calendar.

The goal is to build a game plan for the week and prioritize organization, which in turn helps students feel more at ease and clearer about where they’re investing their time, according to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

GYLIO also doesn’t have to take a whole day; students can start by scheduling one hour or one night per week to build a habit of recentering. Rochester Institute of Technology encourages students to select one day of the week before the term starts as their “reset day,” to update their calendar and identify future due dates and commitments.

An institutional pause: While individuals can encourage students to pause and reorient their activities, colleges and universities can also devote time within the academic calendar to give students a breather.

At the University of Melbourne in Australia, students have one week dedicated to GYLIO practices during the middle of the term in which all social events are paused to help students focus on their academics, according to BBC. The week is instead filled with rest and relaxation activities such as yoga classes and well-being lectures.

The experience helps students build confidence in getting organized and knocking tasks off their list not just during the pause week, but throughout the academic year.

Other solutions: For the busy student who needs additional help, practitioners can reference these resources:

  • Ideal schedule mapping. The University of Northern Colorado has a time use chart to help students map out the time they use during the day and identify how many hours they need to allocate to each activity.
  • Time management grid. Sometimes students don’t need more time, but to prioritize their obligations. The University of San Diego guides students through what is most urgent and important with a Covey Time Management Grid, mapping each task into four quadrants.
  • Time management calculator. An online calculator from the University of Pittsburgh helps illustrate where students are spending their time and how they can tweak that to fit their needs. Students simply identify what their credit load is then fill in the remaining categories (the chart autofills eight hours of sleep per night as well to promote healthy sleep habits).

Do you have a wellness tip that might help others encourage student success? Tell us about it.

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