Here are some quick and easy time management tips for students. These tips will help you maximize your time and feel stress-free.
Everyone has the same number of hours in the day….yes, even Beyonce. As a student, it never really seems like there’s enough time to do the things you want to do, let alone the things you have to do, right? What are the best time management tips for students that can help with this?
Between studying for exams, enrolling in new classes, reading books, writing papers, and making time for office hours, there’s a lot of tasks to complete as a student. If you can make an effort to master some or all of these effective time management skills, you’re one step closer to being able to feel the benefits of what proper time management can do for you and establishing best practices for how to study.
Here are 10 of our best time management tips for students.
1. Define and Prioritize Tasks
Your to-do list may look long, but have you ordered it correctly?
Begin by simply writing down the tasks on a piece of paper. When listing your tasks, make sure to add their deadlines so that you can organize them in order of priority. Even if the list seems long and overwhelming at first, you can start to group tasks of the same nature together (i.e. reading, homework, shopping, house chores, etc.) and prioritize them in order of what needs to get done first.
A huge productivity hack from serial entrepreneur Tim Ferriss is to ask yourself:
“Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
This means, if you have one task that will eliminate the others or make them easier to do, start with it. Same idea if you have one task that will take the least amount of time – get it done first, so you can cross it off the list and keep on rolling.
2. Break Up Big Tasks
As a student, you know that if your professor told you to write a 20-page research report, you may feel overwhelmed. Instead, if your professor said that you have to write a one-page paper, you’d likely be feeling breezy about getting it done. So, why not take that approach with all your tasks?
With big tasks, write down a deadline and work backwards to figure out how many smaller pieces you can divide it into to get it done by the due date. This is a really important time management skill for students. For example, if you have a book to read, check how many chapters there are and when the reading assignment is due. Then count the numbers of days you have before then and divide it by the number of chapters to see how much you have to get done on a daily basis to meet the deadline. If you have an essay to write, start with the research, then create the outline, and so on.
3. Use a Checklist
Pilots and doctors do it. You should, too. It’s easy to forget things with all the distractions of school, work, and life. By writing things down and checking them off, you’re ensuring nothing gets forgotten in the mix.
Checklists are also great psychological tools to give you quick hits of happiness when you put that check in the box.
4. Create Rewards
There’s no doubt that celebrations are fun. Whether big or small, being able to positively reinforce the work you do will help you establish a routine and incentive to keep powering through.
You can choose rewards that are monetary, activity or time-based.
Here’s an idea
If you want to buy a new pair of sneakers, throw a dollar in the jar every time you complete a task. When you’ve worked your way up to the shoes, go get them. Or, if you want to just give yourself 15 minute breaks to play video games, work for 45 minutes with a timer and then when you hear the buzz, play for 15 minutes as a reward.
5. Set a Schedule
As they used to say, “Pencil it in.” Sure, we’ve come a long way from relying on agenda books, but schedulers and agendas (digital or print) can play a huge role in how we manage time daily.
You can either be really serious about scheduling by breaking your time into 15-30 minute blocks and outlining what you’ll be doing, or a little more lenient by roughly planning your days in advance.
Make sure you put in time for family, jobs, and, most importantly, leisure. If you are under pressure, ask for help from your friends and family with your other activities/chores. You may be surprised just how happy they are to help so you can succeed.
6. Set Realistic Goals
Our society (and Kanye) tells us to aim high and “shoot for the stars, so if you fall, you land on the clouds.” But sometimes, it makes more sense to set realistic and smaller goals so that you can pass those hurdles and gain momentum to accomplish bigger goals.
Slow progress is better than no progress, and by being able to complete the small steps, you’re making collective moves to accomplish your long-term goals.
This method also works to manage time because you can’t see so far into the future. By setting up your goals day in and day out, you’re creating good habits that are within your control that accumulate over time to cause big changes.For example, if you want to run a marathon, you’re going to start training daily with just a few miles and build up from there. In that same manner, you can train your brain and mind to grow stamina for studying. If you want to learn a new language, you can do daily lessons, and over time, you’ll realize how much you’ve learned as all the short lessons accumulate.
7. Wake Up Early
Does waking up at 5:30 sound tough? The good news is, it’s easy to start:
- Begin by going to bed at the usual time, then wake up at 5:30am. You may struggle the first morning, but make sure you get up.
2. Go to sleep early that night, and again wake up at 5:30am the next day.
3. After that your body clock will reset, and your new wake up time will be easy.
By setting that alarm clock for the early hours of the morning, you’re setting up your day to maximize your time.
When you’re up early, you rush less, and in turn, stress less. Since the body and mind are getting up from a fresh night’s sleep, it’s the best time to get all your complex thinking tasks out of the way so that you can be productive and set the tone for your day.
Waking up early has a lot of other benefits, too. For one, you’re up before most other people, so it automatically helps to eliminate distractions (see next point). It also gives you the time to exercise and get some “me time,” before all your other commitments take center stage.
Check out how waking up at 5:30 AM changed this guy’s life and the 6 shocking reasons why.
8. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are everywhere, especially the digital kinds. There are many apps that can help lock you out of the internet if you can’t help but check your apps while trying to work or study.
Some Useful Apps:
- Freedom can take you offline for up to eight hours
- StayFocused allows you to choose specific sites to block, like Facebook or Instagram
Not ready to install another app or software?
Leave your phone in a different room and create a specific location from where you will just work. And, this isn’t just a good idea to try when you’re busy working. It’s also a nice exercise when you’re with friends and family because you can truly be present with them.
Although it may be hard for some to part with your phone, many people share the benefits of sleeping with it in a different room, such as experiencing higher quality sleep. A very productive way to start your day is to spend the first hour of it phone-free, just doing the tasks you want to get done, uninterrupted and entirely focused.
9. One Task at a Time
Neuroscience research has shown that multitasking is a myth. The brain performs one function at a time, and while it may seem like you’re doing two things at once, there’s still a start/stop process happening. All that switching back and forth is more exhausting than staying focused and moving to the next task upon completion of the first.
For better time management, focus on one task at a time before switching to the next one. You can even time yourself and compare how much more you can get actually finished (or checked off your checklist) when compared to taking the “multitasking” approach.
10. Get Some Rest
Did you know sleep actually helps increase productivity?
When students feel overtired, their brain has minimized function as if they’re impaired by alcohol. It’s important to find out how many hours of sleep your body needs to function properly, but aim for a minimum of seven hours per night, if it’s possible.
Another effective time management skill for students is to take regular breaks while you work. Make sure you regularly break up your study day by grabbing a coffee, or eating some fruit (a little spike of natural sugar is good brain food). Of course, don’t forget to drink lots water, it’s full of oxygen!
Also, if you’re rushing home from work and need to jump into studying, try to take a 30 minute break before beginning so that you can recharge. It will make you much faster and more efficient when you study. A short walk might also be a good way to relax, while also stimulating the brain, before moving back into a phase of focus.
The Wrap Up
Setting up good habits for effective time management doesn’t have to happen all at once to be useful. By taking one or a few of the tips from this list, you can set realistic, small goals and choose a few of these tips that you feel will be most beneficial to you or will make the others easier to adopt.
Try to measure your progress and reward yourself for the small changes you’re making to better manage your time.
It’s always a good time to get started!