The person who figures out how to squeeze more than 24 hours out of a day will be a genius worthy of all the wealth such a discovery can bring. However, since the day cannot be extended, students must find ways to utilize each day as efficiently as possible. In this article, we review 10 time management tips for students to help you improve your productivity and stay on task.
It can be a daunting task for a student to take a step back and look at the grand scope of work on their plate. So how does someone who is trying to get everything done, manage to fit it all in?
Luckily, there are some great tips and tools to help you do so. The trade-off is that they all require a level of commitment, self-discipline, and the sacrifice of other activities that are undoubtedly more fun.
The list of 10 time management tips for students below will allow you to leverage your time and get the most of your busy days. Furthermore, these time management tips for students are relatable to your post-schooling life. The earlier you learn these tips and put them into practice, the better prepared you will be for future endeavors.
1. Prioritize Important Tasks
Any list of time management tips for students that does not kick off with the most important one of them all, prioritization, is a head-scratcher.
Keep in mind that while you are a student, not all items you need to accomplish are equally important. The same can be said for when you start your career in the near future.
Some tasks might have deadlines that are due before others, so you should approach those with a higher priority. In other scenarios, you might have a task that requires significant work but a deadline that is far into the future. While these items might not have immediate priority, you should still allow significant time to complete them.
Time management and prioritization work together mutually. Time can be managed a lot more effectively when you know the task that needs to be completed and the deadline you have to complete it.
It is an important decision to determine which task should take priority, ensuring you have sufficient time to complete all your work. As new assignments arrive, your priorities may shift, and you will have to adjust accordingly.
With the heavy workload demanded by all levels of schooling, setting an order for when things need to be accomplished is paramount. Consider working on your most time consuming and challenging tasks first. That way you can approach those challenging tasks when your mind is fresh, and you aren’t feeling frustrated.
2. Create A Realistic Schedule
Staying organized often means having a visual aid to track your needs. Once the items you need to complete have been properly prioritized, it is time for you to set a schedule to allocate sufficient time.
When creating a schedule for your work, there are a few important aspects to consider. First and foremost is to keep the schedule realistic. Sure, being an overachiever is great. However, if you cannot realistically tackle the workload you schedule for yourself, it can be frustrating and deeply demoralizing.
Secondly, and maybe the most important, it is essential for you to keep an updated planner of all things on your plate. Keep in mind that your planner will be updated daily as new items are assigned, and old ones are completed.
When you are trying to accomplish all the items in your long planner, it is important to rework your schedule based on your timing and priorities. While your schedule should give you an understanding of how you will accomplish all that you need to do, it should also be dynamic.
When certain tasks take longer than anticipated, subsequent ones should be shifted back or high priory items moved forward. Creating a schedule does not mean tasks will always be accomplished in the time you have allocated.
Thirdly, your schedule should include time set aside specifically for the work. You may have several other activities planned for the day, but a sufficient block of time should be dedicated to doing the actual work.
3. Use A To-Do List
Another one of the many time management tips for students is to utilize a to-do list. A to-do list allows you to better track what tasks you have completed and those that remain. There are few things more satisfying than crossing off an item on a long list of things you need to accomplish.
When creating a to-do list, be sure that all items are relevant to your work. Keep the extraneous activities and other distractions off of your list.
Once complete, assign a timeframe to each item. Or alternatively, assign a certain number of items to a specific timeframe. For instance, you might assign the first five items on your to-do list to be completed by the end of the day.
Similar to when you create a schedule as discussed above, try and keep the to-do list realistic. Initially, you might overestimate or underestimate how much you will be able to get done in a day. However, over time and with some trial and error, you will become more accurate at creating a realistic to-do list.
Ambition is essential, and it can be very motivating as you push to get more done. But it can very deflating when you have worked hard all day and only accomplished half of the items on your list. When your to-do list is unrealistic, it takes away from the fulfillment you should feel from the items you did accomplish.
4. Break Up Bigger Items Into Smaller Manageable Tasks
Tackling large assignments can sometimes be a daunting task. When there is a significant amount of work to complete for one item, you can often feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start.
When you find yourself in a similar scenario, instead of attempting to tackle the entire beast at once, it helps to plot it out systematically. Before setting off on a quest to complete a lengthy assignment, first, evaluate its scope.
Write down the deadline and consult your schedule to see what else you need to complete before that date. Next, work backward to figure out how many chunks the big assignment can be broken down in order to tackle it in pieces. Set mini-deadlines for all those individual pieces as well.
When you break up bigger tasks into smaller items, they instantly become more manageable. The looming deadline doesn’t seem so unrealistic when you have mini-deadlines along the way to keep you on track and monitor your progress.
Additionally, plan to have the task completed a few days before your deadline. This allows for final tweaks or some extra padding if other unexpected activities fill up your schedule.
5. Concentrate On One Task At A Time
When considering all the time management tips for students, concentrating on one task at a time is essential advice. Many people convince themselves that multitasking is the most effective way to accomplish all that they need to on their busy schedule. However, the art of multitasking is not real.
Backed by neuroscience research, the brain can only actively perform one function at a time. It may seem that you are doing more than one thing at a time, but you can really only actively concentrate on one.
The back and forth switching between multiple tasks causes your brain to try and work in various directions at once. As a result, you not only lose focus on the multiple tasks you are working on, but you also become tired much faster.
Additionally, multitasking makes it hard for you to keep track of all the nuanced parts of the various activities you are working on. When little details get lost, it degrades the quality of the work. By concentrating on one task as a time, you are focusing on quality over quantity.
By trying to work faster on multiple items, you actually work slower on individual ones. Instead, you should dedicate all your energy and concentration to focus on one individual task at a time.
6. Remove All Distractions When You Are Working
In today’s world, many individuals live in the short intervals that happen to exist between perpetual distractions. With the rise and overabundance of technology, especially of a digital variety, the interruptions to your planned work are constant.
As noted earlier, your brain can really only process one task at a time. When you become distracted from the task you are in the middle of, you lose your groove and any momentum you may have had.
When you are in the midst of a block of time that you have allotted for concentrating on work, it is beneficial to remove as many distractions as possible.
For starters, put your phone on silent mode and move it far away from you. Unless you are on active duty and expecting calls or messages, you can respond to them later.
Additionally, remove yourself from the distractions of television, video games, and social gatherings. If those are too tempting, it’s possible that you need a change of scenery.
Only have the web browser tabs open that are relevant to your work. If what you are working on doesn’t require the internet, then keep all browsers closed.
Humans, in general, are quite easily distracted. More so now than ever before, with the advancements in technology. When you remove yourself from the typical distractions that usually disrupt your work, you are taking the initiative to be self-disciplined and accomplish what you have set out to do.
7. Find A Workspace That Allows You To Focus
As discussed briefly in the section above, perhaps you are tempted by the distractions in your normal work environment. If you find yourself in this scenario, consider changing the location where you work.
Have you ever wondered why people who work from home, often still opt to head to a coffee shop and work from there? If you can’t resist the distractions, physically take yourself away from them.
One of the time management tips for students is to work in a location where there is the least amount of possibility that you will break your focus. That way, you have no choice but to concentrate your efforts and focus on the tasks at hand.
A library is a good place to consider or maybe a corner table of an uncrowded coffee shop. Quiet locations, where other individuals are focused on their own work, are perfect places to get more accomplished.
8. Wake Up Earlier – You Are Often The Most Productive In The Morning
Waking up earlier is a time management tactic touted by many people. Even if you do not feel as if you are a morning person, your body and mind are typically the freshest at the start of the day. Additionally, this is extra time in your day can be used for something productive, instead of simply sleeping.
With that being said, a good night’s sleep is essential for your brain to function well. So if you require the same amount of time to sleep each day, consider shifting your sleep schedule a bit.
You and do this by waking up earlier, but also going to sleep earlier at night. By waking up earlier, you can tackle tasks earlier in the day that you otherwise might be too tired to start at the end of a busy day. By going to bed earlier in the evening, you are still ensuring you get a full night’s sleep.
9. Get Sufficient Rest And Take Breaks When Needed
Getting a good amount of rest is an important factor in keeping your brain fueled for the most optimal performance. Sleep is your physical and mental battery recharge. Sleep improves your mental clarity and increases your ability to concentrate.
For students, getting the right amount of sleep can be a challenge. Especially considering the vast amount of activities that students are involved with. In addition to the long hours of classes and studying. Getting the right amount of sleep is an important one of the time management tips for students.
Your brain works better when rested but it also functions more ideally in short bursts of concentration. While it may seem counterintuitive to productivity, another important time management tip for students is to take short but frequent breaks.
Individuals utilize various time management strategies when it comes to breaks. Furthermore, science has backed many different strategies that claim to optimize productivity. However, what works best for someone else might not be the most effective for you.
So do some experimenting with different lengths of time spent working and time spent taking breaks. Breaking up your work time with short breaks can be extremely effective. It allows your mind to dedicate a period of time to concentrate on a task, recharge, and then get back to work.
10. Utilize All The Tools Available To Help Manage Your Time
There are many tools available to help you better manage your time and improve your concentration. Examples include organizational and time management applications, noise-canceling headphones, a simple to-do list, schedule management systems, and many more.
When possible, leverage the tools that many companies provide for free. Such as task tracking programs and schedules like Google Calendar, Trello, and Microsoft One Note.
When searching for the right tools, don’t overwhelm yourself on a mission to find them all, or even utilize the ones described above
A simple to-do list with paper and pen might be all that is required to keep you on track throughout your daily activities. Alternatively, phone applications with notifications might be better suited for keeping track of your deadlines. Take some time to do some experimenting to find the tools that best fit your requirements.
The realization that there are 86,400 seconds each day. What are you doing today, so that tomorrow you are a step closer to where you want to be? If not now, then when?
eightysixfourhundred, make them count