Better time management for students: our six top tips

Student life is BUSY. You’re working, doing activities, socialising, and remembering to feed and clean yourself… It makes sense that time management for students can go out the window. It also might be the first time you’ve been left to your own devices for a lot of the day. Gone is the structure of school, replaced with overlapping deadlines and long library hours.

One of the best reasons to use Proprep is to up your time management game. When I was a student, I always started the university term determined to stay on top of things. However, I would get more and more behind as the weeks went on. I was like a duck: calm on the surface, but paddling like crazy to stay afloat behind the scenes. If this sounds familiar, here’s how to work on changing your routine for the better.

The importance of time management for students

Good time management helps students to prioritise their tasks and submit assignments on time. Students can plan, set aside the time they need to complete work, and make better use of the rest of their time.

It might feel like some people are naturally good at using their time, but this isn’t the case. Time management is an organisational process that enables you to plan effectively, and anyone can learn to do it. Excellent time management skills will allow you to work more productively. You can then get more done with less stress, especially when pressure is high. Follow our top tips to start managing your time better today!

A female student, struggling with time management, checks her watch while working.
Photo credit: GaudiLab, Shutterstock

1. Prioritise your tasks

The key to time management for students is creating a to-do list. Identify what you need to do, then prioritise tasks based on the dates your assignments are due and the amount of time you’ll need. You can base your schedule for the day and week around what needs to get done first. If you’ve got some flexibility, start with what you most feel like doing. Hopefully the momentum will carry you through the rest of your list!

2. Break big tasks down

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by large tasks like ‘Start Chemistry revision’, and the anxiety can make you want to procrastinate. Start with shorter, simpler to-do items and then move on to larger projects or assignments. You can break these down into manageable chunks too. Rather than ‘Revise’, try and get through ‘Chapter 1 Notes’, ‘Chapter 1 Practice Exercises’, and so on.

3. Make a schedule that works for you

Some people like to divide their time and assign different tasks to each chunk; some people like to stay at one until it’s done. When I was at uni, I got bored if I spent too long on one thing, so I changed it up every hour. Even though overall assignments took me longer, I was able to be stay more productive all day. Try a few different ways until you figure out what kind of time management works for you.

Different people work better at different times of the day. If you know you’re a night owl, take it easy in the morning and get back to work after supper. I knew this would exhaust me though, so I preferred to get to the library early and try to leave by 6pm.

Whatever you choose, make sure you put enough breaks throughout the day to keep you sane and avoid burnout. Many people like the pomodoro technique, which consists of working for 25 minutes before breaking for five, with a longer break every four cycles. Once you’ve committed to a plan, stick to it!

4. Remove distractions

A University of London study showed that those who multitask see a drop in IQ similar to someone who didn’t sleep the night before. If you’re trying to juggle doing multiple things at once, you’ll almost always end up less productive. Get real with yourself about what might be distracting you. Are you spending too much time checking Instagram or TikTok? Even if you’re online for a productive purpose like Studygram, try and stay in the zone while you’re working. Can you turn social media breaks into rewards for crossing something off your list?

5. Treat yoself!

Speaking of rewards, positively reinforcing the work you do will help you keep working for longer. Use your breaks to check the apps you’ve been avoiding, catch up with a friend, or spend time outside to feel refreshed. Pick something you’re looking forward to each week to use as motivation to accomplish your goals. For example, when I’ve finished three practice papers, I’ll watch the new James Bond film.

If you’re struggling to relax during your downtime, give your mind a rest through meditation or yoga.

A young woman practises yoga online from her living room.
Photo credit: Luke SW, Shutterstock

6. Build a good routine

After a couple of weeks of sticking to your time management schedule, hopefully you’ll build up good momentum and feel more in routine. An important part of this is also taking care of yourself: getting enough sleep, nutritious food, fresh air, and movement. Try and give yourself early nights when you can. These are especially important if you know you have a busy few days ahead, or you’re always late for the same lecture.

Your thoughts on time management for students

Have you tried any of our tips and found them helpful? What’s your best time management advice? Let us know in the comments!

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