As a student, managing your time effectively can be challenging. With classes, assignments, projects, extracurricular activities, and social commitments, it can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done. However, with the right strategies and techniques, you can make the most of your time and achieve your academic and personal goals. In this blog, I will share five tips for time management for students. But honestly, these tips aren’t only for students. They work for anyone!
The first step in effective time management is setting priorities. Identify the most important tasks you need to complete and prioritize them accordingly. Make a to-do list and organize it based on urgency and importance.
Sometimes it’s difficult to write a list with everything in order of priority the first time you write it. Don’t let that concern you or hold you back! Just write your list as the items come to mind and THEN number it in order of priority (you can always re-write it, too!).
Obviously, homework that is due tomorrow is a higher priority than homework due next week. If you have a lot of homework to do in one night, consider prioritizing it by the number of points it’s worth or the time it’s due during the school day (just in case you need to finish up your homework for later classes during lunch or study hall).
Prioritizing what you need to do will help you focus on the tasks that need your attention the most, and prevent you from wasting time on less important tasks.
Use a Calendar
Using a calendar is a great way to manage your time effectively. Whether it's a physical planner or a digital calendar, having a schedule will help you stay organized and on track. Write down your assignments, deadlines, and appointments, and schedule blocks of time for studying, homework, and other tasks. By planning your day in advance, you can ensure that you are using your time efficiently.
Sometimes it takes trial and error to find the best calendar for you. Try not to give up right away and try a few different ones until you find one that works best for you. I know people who use both a paper planner and a digital calendar. That works best for them, but maybe not for everyone. And what works for you one school year (or even semester) may not work for you another. Have you tried Google calendar or an Order Out of Chaos Planner? How about a big dry-erase calendar up on your wall? There are lots of great options out there!
Procrastination is the enemy of time management. It can be tempting to put off tasks until the last minute, but this can lead to stress, poor performance, and missed deadlines. To avoid procrastination, break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable ones, and tackle them one at a time. Some people call this “chunking.”
Use the Pomodoro technique, where you work for a set amount of time and take breaks in between, to help you stay focused and avoid burnout. There are lots of timers to help you use the Pomodoro technique. Some people use their phones (although, as we all know, phones can be distracting), watches, physical visual timers, and/or digital timers.
My son recently got this visual timer, which shows time going by like on an analog clock or watch. He made sure to get one that doesn’t tick because he knew the sound would be distracting.
I just started using an online timer called Cuckoo but there are SO many other digital timers out there, including Pomofocus and Pomodoro Tracker which include space where you can type in your to-do list.
Distractions can be a major obstacle to effective time management. Social media, text messages, and notifications can all take your attention away from your work and waste precious time. To eliminate distractions, turn off your phone or put it on silent mode when you need to concentrate and use browser extensions or apps that block distracting websites. Here’s an article that lists 8 of the best apps to help you focus and reduce distractions.
It’s also important to find a quiet place to work, such as a library or study room, where you can focus without interruption. I like to work in places where there’s ambient noise, such as a coffee shop or outside while sitting at a table. But if you know the birds or nearby conversations will distract you, a place with ambient noise might not be the best place for you. Also, sometimes listening to music can block out other distractions, but some people find it distracting. What works best for you?
Finally, taking breaks is an important part of time management. Taking regular breaks can help you stay focused and avoid burnout. Use your breaks to stretch, take a walk, or do something enjoyable. By taking care of yourself and allowing yourself time to rest, you will be able to work more efficiently and effectively. But, don’t forget to come back from your break and get back to your tasks. The Pomodoro timers I mentioned under “Avoid Procrastination” include break timers that will let you know when to return to your work. Or use a timer on your phone or watch.
In conclusion, time management is essential for academic and professional success and personal well-being. By setting priorities, using a calendar, avoiding procrastination, eliminating distractions, and taking breaks, you can make the most of your time and achieve your goals. Remember that effective time management is a skill that takes practice, so don't be discouraged if you don't get it right at first. With patience, persistence, and these tips, you can become a master of time management and achieve your full potential.
What works best for you to manage your time? Share in the comments below!