Time Management for Students – High School and College

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Perhaps the group that complains of the highest levels of procrastination and most difficulty focusing and getting things done are students. The procrastination epidemic has always hit students hard, but perhaps no harder than it has today. The proliferation of digital devices and social networking sites, among other technologies of distraction, has made it easier than ever before to be distracted by short term impulses, all to avoid working towards more fulfilling long term goals. As a result, student time management skills are pretty much pathetic across the board, as most students can probably attest to!

Thus, this article will give advice on time management for students, an area of sore need for many. We intend to give tips for students at all levels, so this will also apply to those looking for time management for high school students or time management for college students. Try to integrate as many of these tips into your life as possible, but don’t try to tackle them all at once or you may have trouble making any of them stick. Focus on one or two at a time and make it stick; then move on to the next one. As is the name of the game: FOCUS.

Of course, while much of this advice may be characterized as time management for teens and young adults, note that a lot of this can also to apply to students of an older age group, including returning students and adult education students.

Time Management Tips For Students

  1. Plan your week, semester, year, and beyond. Planning is the first step – you need to know what you need to be doing before you can do it effectively. Use whatever resource or device you’d like, but make sure it’s easy to use and maintain, because you don’t want your planning and organizing to be an unwieldy tool itself. You probably will know ahead of time the major dates for tests, exams, projects, papers, and other assignments – so make sure you pencil them in and come up with a game plan on how you will tackle all of those tasks. Mix in extracurricular activities – sports, music, volunteering, and other student groups – and you will be quickly overwhelmed if you are not on top of your game.
  2. If you have to work to support your education, this adds more pressure on your time budget, so make sure you are especially careful to organize your time.
  3. If you are having issues with procrastination, check that chapter of this webbook – it will help you! In fact, you can find many other productivity tips scattered throughout this webbook, so have a look around if you already haven’t.
  4. Get tools to help you focus your time, but don’t let those tools take over either.
  5. Block out time in your schedule to do unbroken periods of work. Focus is the key to any kind of success; being scatterbrained or (worse) multitasking will not let you be as productive as you can be. This is the unfortunate thing about multitasking: many students believe that it is “normal” and that they are being their most productive while checking Facebook, looking at sites, listening to music, watching TV, and texting to their friends. In fact, they are getting nothing done. If they just sat back and worked on their task, they’d get it done in a quarter of the time. Unfortunately, modern technology sometimes gives the illusion of productivity; switch off and avoid distractions if you want to manage your time properly.
  6. Use the time in between classes and other periods of ‘down time’ to do more work. Don’t let these little periods of 15 – 30 minutes go by – they can add up over the course of a week, semester, and school career! Don’t just sacrifice them to ‘rest’ or socializing – actually make use of them when you can by studying flash cards, reading the book or article due, or other useful activities.
  7. Don’t cram. You’ve heard this before, and maybe ignored it, but it’s unbelievably important. First, you can’t hope to learn a bunch of stuff in one day, simply because the physiological processes of learning (read: sleep) require multiple days to give you the highest benefit. Second, it’s just a better use of your time to spread out the studying over many days and weeks rather than trying to cram it in into one session. A third benefit is that you’ll lower stress, and you might actually find that studying ahead of time is enjoyable.
  8. This also goes with long term project. Leaving papers to the last minute is no way to build good writing habits, and you won’t be able to truly say your best in the writing if you have to do it all at once. Sure, you may get away with it at first, even through high school and college, but you are truly short changing yourself. And it may eventually catch up to you when you get to the ‘real world’ of business, where deadlines will be more firm and the consequences of missing those deadlines more severe.
  9. Part of time management in college and high school is not just about planning and budgeting time, but also about how you study. Take this time to build good study habits; this is key to working not just harder but also ‘smarter.’ There are certain ways to study that will get you more benefits per hour invested than others, and this will depend on the subject you’re studying as well as your learning style. Study skills and time management go hand in hand – so don’t look at an hour spent “studying” as equivalent across many different activities. Some activities will be longer, but more rewarding, than others, so don’t necessarily take the short cut if you will have to pay for it down the line.
  10. Create an environment conducive to study. For many people, this means going to the library, though others may find it hard to study there simply because they have to much exposure to their friends and other distractions. Working at home thus has its benefits – no friends there to distract you – but also has its dangers. The allures of the TV, computer, video game system, or your bed are there to seduce you all the time you are trying to work. Thus, if you do work at home, be sure to reduce or eliminate distractions. You will know what your particular issues are, so focus on those and do what you can to eliminate temptation and get focused on your positive activities.
  11. Of course, make sure you have fun and actually relax – being a workaholic is not exactly the point of life at this or any age. This is one of the time management strategies for college students that will be easy to follow – perhaps too easy. We need to maintain a work-life balance, and this means balance on both sides of the equation. Have your fun, but also do your work.
  12. You may be able to find college time management seminars and other offerings on campus; in high school, your teacher or guidance counselors may offer you similar advice. Take these opportunities to learn some tricks and tips that can help you manage your time that may be more specific to your school, major, situation, etc. Of course, everything in life is about adapting, so make sure you are open to change yet rigid enough to maintain discipline – it can be a fine line!
  13. Practice and hold on to these strategies as much as you can. Time management skills for students (college or high school) don’t come naturally – in fact, there is a certain “culture of procrastination” that rages throughout most campuses and classrooms. Thus, you’ll have to go against the grain here, but what better way to be ‘educated’ than to learn the benefits of not conforming to what the crowd accepts.