Management & Leadership

Ten effective time management techniques for students

Sep 05, 2018

Good time management is essential to successful studying, here are ten time management techniques to help you achieve the most in the time you have.

Article summary

  • Good time management is essential to success when studying.
  • From Michaelangelo to Thomas Jefferson, everyone has the same number of hours in their day.
  • Time management focuses on how you use the hours that you have available to you.
  • By using a few simple techniques, you can master the art of time management.

Good time management is essential to success when studying. Students often start the year with high expectations and grand plans, but slowly as time marches on the plans start to slip and by the end of it you’re battling to get everything done. It doesn’t matter how intelligent you are, if you don’t manage your time you will never reach your true potential.

Do you feel like you just don’t have enough time? Do you have more items on your To Do List than there are hours in the day? H. Jackson Brown Jr. said, “Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.” Do you now feel like an underachiever? Fear not! The truth is that when it comes to studying it’s often not about how many hours you have, but rather how you use them that counts.

Ten techniques to help you master the art of time management and thus put you on the road to success!

1. Prioritise! Prioritise! Prioritise!

Before attempting any time management techniques, it is crucial that you prioritise your time. People, especially students, have so much on the go and it’s hard to choose which is more important be it time with friends, family, sport or studying. While it is true that all elements are crucial in order to lead a balanced life, there are times when studying needs to take priority over your social life for example during exams or when trying to complete a big assignment. Be wary of activities that take up a lot of your time but add little value to your long-term goals such as playing video games or spending hours on social media. Jason Khoo, a member of both the President Scholar Program at California State University Fullerton and the Dean’s List of the Mihavlo College of Business and Economics illustrates this when saying, “You need to set your priorities early on and stick to them. I suggest that you maintain time with family and friends but be quick to cut low-value activities like video games or TV shows. When you have to make more difficult choices, look at things from a long-term perspective. Don’t waste time feeling guilty about your choices – think of them as effective compromises that will lead to your long-term success.”

2. Always complete the most important tasks first

This time management technique may sound obvious, but when it comes to time management it is often a crucial step easily missed. When faced with a long list of tasks one can easily feel totally overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done and, as a result, unsure of where to start. If you can only adopt one time management technique let it be this one, identify three tasks each day that are the most important to complete and work on those first. Once these tasks are complete you have set yourself up for a successful day and, often, the rest will follow.

3. Eliminate Distractions

When it comes to time management, distractions can be your downfall. Chances are that you’ll be looking for things to help you procrastinate so make sure you can’t find them. Turn off the phone, disconnect from social media, put your book away and focus. Allow yourself to quickly check your phone only after an hour of hard graft. This might seem excessive, but technology can both be an asset and a hindrance when it comes to time management.

4. Become friends with your calendar

If you’re trying to improve your time management skills a calendar is your new best friend. It is an excellent tool to help you plan your day. It allows you to clearly schedule appointments, set time aside for priority tasks and plan your studies. You can easily setup a calendar on your phone flagging what to do when. Keep in mind however that setting up the calendar is the easy part it’s sticking to it that will make all the difference!

5. Make a list

Have you ever written something down on your To Do List, when you’ve already actually done it, just for the satisfaction of crossing it off? A checklist is a wonderful time management tool. A good suggestion is to have a prioritised list for everything you need to get done in the week and then a smaller list for each day. This way you can successfully plan the week ahead, allocating time where it is needed. Lists help you to keep track of what needs to be done, not to mention that wonderful sense of accomplishment when you finally get to cross off an item!

6. Reward yourself

Small rewards are important and, if not overindulged in, they can help you keep on track. When you’ve completed a task on time, be sure to get up from your desk stretch your legs and take a ten-minute time-out. This will help you to mentally prepare for the next task while keeping the momentum going.

7. Have a dedicated study place

This is crucial. Study time is often wasted by trying to find a place to study. Before you begin find a place where you are comfortable and not distracted, be it the desk in your bedroom or the library. Find yourself a space where you won’t be interrupted, and you can work for as long as you need. Research shows that studying in the same place each time, for example a particular desk in the library can be conducive to getting more done. When you immediately associate a space with focussed successful studying it’s easier to get into the rhythm of doing just that.

8. Be flexible

With time management, planning is key, but some degree of flexibility needs to be allowed. Be careful not to plan your day so tightly that one little mishap throws everything out of sync, including yourself. If you don’t give yourself a little room to breathe your schedule will be your downfall. As soon as you start falling behind you’ll panic, which will lead to even more pressure and anxiety, compounding to do lists and an eventual meltdown. Stick to your schedule, use your calendar, make your list, but remember that they are there to help you not to suffocate you.

9. Learn to say no

It is easy to overestimate what you can get done in a day. It all starts with the best intentions and a real commitment to completing your studies for the day, going for a run and making time to see your friend, but sometimes we just can’t do it all. Instead of overcommitting be cautious with what you say yes to. Always give yourself more time than you think you will need. Remember, it’s better to pleasantly surprise a friend than to let them down for the third time in a row.

10. Take care of yourself

While getting enough sleep, exercise and healthy meals may take time, they will save you time in the end. A healthy lifestyle is essential to a healthy mind. It is impossible to concentrate when you’re exhausted or hungry. If you find yourself pulling all-nighters to get through your list relook at your calendar. Your schedule needs to include at least 7 – 8 hours’ sleep a night, time to eat healthily and exercise. In doing so you will find that you will get more done in the time that you have.

Good time management is crucial to successfully completing your studies and achieving your career goals. The good news is that everyone can become an expert at managing their own time and therefore setting themselves up for success. Make that list and stick to it, you won’t be sorry!

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