Time is the ultimate limited resource.
Here’s a list of ten time management tips to help you.
No matter how much we have going on in our lives, there are only 24 hours in each day. To put a positive spin on it, you have the same amount of time each day as Warren Buffet, Elon Musk, and Simone Biles.
So how do they get so much accomplished each day? That’s where good time management skills come in.
To a student, time management can prevent cramming at the last minute.
- No more scrambling to make a deadline
- Having extra time to relax at the end of your day
- Not having to miss out on something fun because you have work to do
The secret to getting more work accomplished in less time is efficiency.
Think of time as your most precious resource and spend it wisely. Plan ahead how you will use your time. You’ll be surprised about how much more you can get done when you plan your time. The following 10 tips will also help you to improve your time management. With better time management, you have more time for enjoyable activities.
1. A planner is a successful student’s most valuable tool.
An academic planner is the single most important tool you can use. It can schedule your time and manage your schoolwork. The more you use it, the better it will serve you. Being consistent about using a planner can save you loads of time and stress.
A planner will help you:
- Avoid time-wasting activities
- Feel more in control of your schedule
- Keep you on track with your academics
I recommend planners that have designated sections for each class. This will make it easier to stay organized by subject.
You are more likely to write down an assignment or upcoming test when you have a specific place to do so. You’ll also see with a quick glance if you’ve forgotten to write down an assignment. Blank spaces next to a specific subject are easier to spot.
However, planners such as these may be hard to find.
A good planner for middle school, high school, and college have one larger area to write down assignments each day.
We created the Study and Succeed Weekly Planner so students can personalize it for specific classes. Just open the file and change the class names to the courses you are taking. Then print as many copies as you need and place them in your binder.
Read more tips for setting up and using the planner efficiently in The Simple Guide to Study Skills.
2. Write everything down.
Even if you think you will remember your assignment, the due date, or a test date, write it down anyway.
Put everything in your planner.
Writing down assignments saves a lot of time and frustration later.
Get into the habit of writing things in your planner as soon as they are assigned. Make it as easy as possible for yourself.
Keep your planner in an easy to access place.
If you use a store-bought planner, Keep a dedicated pen in the spiral of the planner. This will it make even easier to write down assignments.
Also, many students find it helpful to use a binder clip to mark the page for their current week.
This way, you open immediately to the correct page each time you write something down. This quick tip will help you be more consistent.
As you write down your assignments, include any textbooks or notebooks you need to bring home. Before you leave school at the end of the day, take a quick look in your planner where you’ve written down your assignments. If you wrote down the books you will need earlier, this will take less than a minute. Yet, it can save you hours of frustration later.
For students that really struggle with leaving things at school, highlight the books in your planner as you put them in your backpack.
This quick tip prevents you from having to go back to school for the workbook, binder, or textbook you need to complete an assignment.
The goal is to be able to complete your homework with the least wasted time and effort.
Some students even print a checklist of items they may need for the week. Then staple it in their planner several days ahead of time. As they place the item in their bag to take it home, they cross off or highlight the item on the list.
Just print out the page and staple it to the weekly section for each upcoming week.
Use your planner and check this list before you leave each day. These two simple habits will make sure you never forget a book or assignment at school again.
3. Use “chunking.”
Do you ever find yourself avoiding a large assignment? Ever put off studying for a major test because it covers an overwhelming amount of material? The solution to this problem is a technique called “chunking.”
Chunking is breaking down big assignments into smaller, more manageable tasks.
The key to avoiding procrastination is dividing your work into as many small tasks as you can. Then tackle them piece by piece using your monthly or weekly calendar. You can use the calendar sections in your planner, or download a copy of the Study and Succeed calendars. Also, you can find a detailed blog post about chunking along with a printable Chunking sheet here.
4. Take time to make time.
This step will increase your productivity by 152%
Students often tell me that this one habit has made the biggest difference for their grades. Not only do their grades improve, but they are much more productive and less stressed. And the best part is that it only takes about 15 minutes once per week!
We call it Weekly Planning Time.
Set aside about 15 minutes every week to plan for your week ahead.
I recommend Sunday evenings because it is typically not a busy time for people. This makes it easier to keep the habit consistent. It is also the time most people start thinking about the school/work week coming up.
During Weekly Planning Time, use the weekly layout section of your planner. Write down your upcoming schedule.
Then, update your Monthly Calendar to include any new major assignments or events. Middle and high school students may want to include parents in weekly planning sessions.
This simple act of planning out your schedule ahead of time will help you become much more productive.
It encourages you to avoid procrastination because you can see deadlines clearly.
The process also makes you think about which activities are more important and urgent. This is prioritizing, which is step 5.
5. Schedule according to your priorities.
No matter how hard we try, there are only 24 hours in a day. Yet, most people have more activities than they can fit into that time.
The solution is to think about your priorities before you plan your schedule.
This way you can get the most important things done. Prioritizing is a key component in how the world’s most productive people get so much done each day.
6. Study as soon after a class as possible.
People forget material rapidly. According to research, most people forget 20% of the material they have learned by the next day.
The longer you wait to study, the more you will need to review the material. By studying soon after class, you give your memory an advantage and make studying easier. This also helps because concentration and memory typically become difficult later in the evening. The best time to complete assignments and review your notes is when the material is still fresh in your mind.
You can give your memory an extra boost by spreading your future review sessions out over time. However, the first review session should be the as close to your lesson as possible.
7. Study for difficult classes and tests first.
Always start with the hard stuff. You want to get the hardest tasks done when you have the most energy. The same is true for studying. You should study for the hardest classes first to get them “out of the way.” This is important so that your mind is the most alert for these classes.
Studies show that mental fatigue challenges your ability to concentrate. For example, if you block off two hours to study in the evening, you should start with the hardest class. You will have an easier time completing the work when your brain has the most energy. As a bonus, you will feel less stressed once the work for those classes is complete.
8. Be realistic about your schedule.
When creating a schedule, don’t plan every minute of every day. Give yourself extra time for activities that may take longer than you expected. When possible, allow yourself to take small “brain-breaks” frequently during your study time. I recommend including a 10-minute break after every 50 minutes of studying.
These breaks could include:
- Having a small snack.
- Walking around for a few minutes.
- Playing with your pet for a few minutes.
- Stretching or doing something physical such as jumping jacks.
But they should NOT include:
- Using the computer
- Using your phone, tablet, or any other electronic device
- Watching TV
Electronics tend to suck people in like black holes. Once you start using the computer, talking to friends, or watching TV, it’s hard to keep the break to only 10 minutes. The next thing you know, 30 minutes or an hour has gone by and your schedule is completely off track. Even people with strong willpower have trouble going back to studying and working.
These activities are fine, but keep them scheduled at the end of the day. After the studying and assignments are done is best.
9. Take advantage of small amounts of time.
Most of your study time should not involve multi-tasking. This is because it is extremely hard for the brain to focus on two tasks at once.
Most of the time, both activities end up taking more time and producing lower quality.
This is the main reason why I strongly recommend “technology-free” study time.
However, some tasks do not require much mental stamina to complete. You can accomplish small, simple activities whenever you find yourself with a little extra time on your hands.
For example, you might have extra time between classes, to and from school, or when doing chores. Use this time to review vocabulary, complete a few math problems or update your schedule, etc.
One of my favorite examples is a student who put his vocabulary flashcards in the bathroom. He reviews them when spending time there. He even reviewed some cards when he was brushing his teeth. Talk about efficient habits!
10. Make time for yourself.
This last tip is to keep you from over-working. Remember that balance is important. Set aside time for exercise, fun activities, and getting plenty of sleep. When creating your schedule, balance your school work with activities for your physical and mental well-being. Your brain will perform best if you include some exercise and plenty of sleep in your schedule.
By following these time management tips, you will find yourself:
- getting more accomplished
- feeling less stressed
- having more time for the activities that you enjoy
Time management is synonymous with organization. Having a plan, writing it down, and sticking to it is most important. Personalize your planner and plan, plan, plan. Break big tasks into little ones, plan according to priority, and start right away. Do the hard things first and get them out of the way. Don’t put yourself in a tight spot by over planning. Give yourself time.