What comes so naturally to some can be very difficult for others—this is true for many things, but in this case, let’s talk about time management for students. Time management tips for students may include finding an organizational system that works best for them or identifying the most effective ways to set deadlines, but there is much more to dive into in order to truly master the skill.
The earlier you do this, the better! But if time management doesn’t seem to come naturally for you, what can you do to improve? Here are some time management tips for students to explore:
Time Management Tip #1: Prioritize tasks
As a student, you will have multiple classes, deadlines, and activities competing for your time and attention. To manage your “To Do” list, you will need to learn how to prioritize. To effectively prioritize, first make a list of everything you need and want to complete. Then, categorize these items as such. For example, maybe you need to submit an essay, but you also have a test to study for. Determine which tasks are more urgent or important, based on the time it takes to prepare, the deadlines, and so on. Studying for a test tomorrow is urgent, whereas starting a rough draft of your final paper due in four weeks can probably wait another day or two (but it is still important!).
Time Management Tip #2: Keep a calendar
You’ve heard this advice before, and that’s because it is crucial to time management. When dealing with deadlines, it can be hard to find time to tend to all of them. Keeping a calendar can help you remain realistic with your time, be reminded of what needs to be done, and stay focused on your goals. Pick the type of calendar system that works best for you. Some people prefer using the calendar app on their smart phone since it’s always with them and can be set up with digital reminders, while others enjoy writing down their commitments in a traditional planner. It doesn’t matter which you choose, as long as you use it.
For the calendar to work effectively, you need to use it on a regular basis. At the start of each semester, add your classes to your calendar. Also, consult your course syllabi and add all important deadlines. In addition, estimate how long each assignment will take to complete. For example, if an essay is due March 15th and you think it will take about a week to complete, put a reminder on your calendar for March 8th to start your essay. You can adjust these deadlines and reminders as needed throughout the semester.
Next, block out time on your calendar for not just studying, but all your various other activities as well. This will help give you a scope of what’s on your plate. You may also want to create time slots for leisure, such as reading for pleasure or hanging out with friends—remember, balance is important in a student’s life. Consider designating time for the following:
- Reading textbooks
- Creating study guides
- Writing essays
- Extracurricular activities
- Social time with friends
- Reading / exercising / other hobbies
By scheduling in personal responsibilities and commitments as well, you can help prevent burnout from only studying. Be flexible and make adjustments as needed, but don’t skimp on time for school-related tasks.
Time Management Tip #3: Don’t overcommit
If you’ve prioritized your upcoming tasks and filled in your calendar, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed. Don’t fret! To stay on track during the school year, you will need to avoid overcommitting yourself and your time when possible. If a neighbor asks you to babysit or a friend wants to take a weekend trip, you may need to pass on the opportunity if you can’t adjust your schedule to make it work.
In some other cases, however, you can use your flexibility to do something new or fun—but be realistic with your time. If you have a big test on Monday that you need to study for and a friend wants to spend the weekend camping, consider asking him or her to reschedule the adventure for another weekend, as you have other commitments this weekend.
Time Management Tip #4: Stop procrastinating
This is a critical component of time management. If you procrastinate, you risk missing important due dates or meeting them with work that is poor quality. Either way, your grades and academic performance will likely suffer under those circumstances. If you are already in the habit of procrastinating, it will take some time and considerable effort to change your ways, but it will be worth it in the end. There are many things you can do to help prevent procrastination. Stick to your schedule and keep the big picture goals in mind.
These are just a few ways to start managing your time more effectively to maximize your productivity. If you fall off your time management plan, don’t stress. Instead, take a look at your priorities and calendar again and make adjustments as needed. Just remember, you can do this!