Bueno de Mesquita, Paul
mindfulness; MBSR; time management; college students; stress
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The transition into college is the first time that students are given control over their own schedules and routines. Despite this newfound freedom, more than 80 percent of college students have reported feeling overwhelmed by all the demands placed on them (American College Health Association, 2013) and studies have shown that poor time management is a predictor of academic stress (Misra & McKean, 2000). Without a structured routine, many college students struggle to find a balance between academics and their social lives, leading them to procrastinate on their coursework.
Studies in mindfulness and mindfulness programs have been on the rise over the past decade. Jon Kabat-Zinn (2003) defines mindfulness as: “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (p. 145). A common method of teaching mindfulness for all age groups is the eight- week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, which involves a three-hour weekly meeting and 45 minutes of daily practice. Many studies have found that practicing MBSR is effective in decreasing feelings of stress and anxiety in daily life (Cullen, 2011). However, less is known about the relationship between mindfulness and stress in regards to time management within the busy lives of college students.
The purpose of this study is to examine whether an abbreviated mindfulness intervention will lead to improved time management skills for college students, resulting in reduced stress and better self-care. The proposed study defines time management using a five-factor model, developed by Bond and Feather (1988), consisting of sense of purpose, structured routine, present orientation, effective organization, and persistence. The methodology consisted of six weekly one-hour group meetings with five volunteer participants, emphasizing the participants’ experiences learning mindfulness with ten minutes of daily practice. Personal journal reflections were collected weekly, focusing on their personal growth and insight. Preliminary analysis revealed that participants reported a greater sense of calm and increased energy and productivity. Since lack of time is a major concern for college students, the findings of this study may offer implications for the development of an abbreviated mindfulness program that is more manageable for college students’ schedules.