Students often juggle many subjects, each with their own exams, assignments and tasks. Beyond this, many students also undertake a number of extra-curricular activities, whilst also managing their social life, free time and, sometimes, jobs. It is imperative that with these numerous commitments, students manage their time effectively and prioritize tasks. This way, time isn’t wasted; it’s saved. Everyone has heard of planning, and it’s easy to dismiss it as a boring, unnecessary task. Maybe you’ve considered implementing it, but you just don’t know where to start. Maybe it was another forgotten New Year’s resolution.
Students’ workload is huge: there’s an average of 17.5 hours of homework a week1, and that is alongside attending school each day. With this amount of work and commitments, students who learn how to manage their time better don’t feel so overwhelmed. According to the American College Health Association (ACHA), 75% of students have at some point experienced “overwhelming anxiety” and over half of students describe academics as difficult to handle.2
One of the best ways to help mitigate stress is by planning and then sticking to the plan, this stops stress before it starts.3 Planning has a beneficial impact on mental health and a positive effect on academic performance. What’s not to like? Studies have shown that students who have significantly better time management have academic grades that are above those with little or no time management, so it’s a no-brainer. Allowing yourself to prioritize and set time for academic work makes sure you don’t waste your time and so also allows time for socialization and relaxation. Reserving time for socialization, relaxation, sports and sleep is a proven way to help improve student satisfaction rates, academic achievement and student mental health. You deserve this so give yourself what you need be get yourself organized.
Beyond school and college, organization and prioritization are skills that are enormously useful for when you start work and are likely to help you win promotions and earn more. The ability to manage deadlines is needed in almost every job. There are a number of steps that help time-management that you may find useful:
- List tasks and prioritize. First list all of the tasks that have to be done, no matter how big or small, alongside their deadlines. Rank them in order of urgency; what comes first is what needs be done as quickly as possible! Personally, I like to start with the easiest task first – it makes me feel like I have accomplished something. Some organization gurus suggest that tackle what’s hardest first of all because the rest of the day seems so much easier. Find out what suits you best.
- Make time for the big projects too. Don’t spend all your time on small, easy to do tasks that help reduce the to do list length and fail to attend to the big project. That’s not fair on your future self because you’re going to have to do the work at some point. Put aside an hour a day to work on that dissertation or huge assignment so you don’t have an all-night panic right before it’s due. It can be helpful to break down these big tasks into smaller, easier to manage tasks.
- Have a goal in mind. I know this one seems basic, but having an end goal, an aim that you can visualize, helps motivate you to complete your tasks.
- Put your phone or laptop on don’t disturb. This is surprisingly effective. Whilst we increasingly need technology to do our work, our notifications can distract us – and each time we get distracted, it takes up to 25 minutes to focus again. You know what it’s like…your friend sends you a post on Instagram and the next thing you know you’ve wasted half an hour and now you’ve got to remember what you were doing and start over. It’s not worth it. Turn off notifications when you’re working and turn your phone over so you can’t see the screen.
- Work when it works for you. Some of us are morning people, and others are night owls. Work with your body to capitalize on the times you are most productive. Know yourself and plan around that. Experiment with your own productivity cycle.
- Just say no! Don’t take on more than you can handle. An import part of prioritization is knowing your limits. You cannot do everything, if something is causing you extra stress then drop it – it’s not worth burning out over. Of course, you can’t drop an assignment you’ve been given, but what can you say no to? Don’t over-commit outside of school/college work.
Our app is designed to make scheduling and planning much easier. You can insert your schedule, deadlines and assignments. Through the app, you can identify when you have your commitments and help you plan your days and weeks. The app also allows you to enter in your tasks, enabling you to identify and prioritize outstanding tasks. Scheduling may be something that you’re unfamiliar with, but My Study Life makes it easy to get started.
- Das, Payel & Bera, Saradindu. (2021). Impact of Time Management on Students’ Academic Achievement at Secondary Level. GIS Science Journal 8 no.2. pg. 227-233.
- Mercanlioglu, Ayse. (2010). The Relationship of Time Management to Academic Performance of Master Level Students. International Journal of Business and Management Studies 1, no.2 pg. 25-35.
- Olowookere, Elizabeth & Alao, Amos & Odukoya, Jonathan & Adekeye, Olujide & Agbude, Godwyns. (2015). Time Management Practices, Character Development and Academic Performance among University Undergraduates: Covenant University Experience. Creative Education 6. pg. 79-86.
- Hu, S. and Kuh, G.D. (2003). Maximizing What Students Get Out of College: Testing a Learning Productivity Model. Journal of College Student Development, [online] 44 no.2, pg. 185–203.
- Alias, Nor Aziah, and Ahmad Marzuki Zainuddin (2005). “Innovation for better teaching and learning: Adopting the learning management system.” Malaysian online journal of instructional technology 2, no. 2 pg. 27-40.