Students of all ages need good time management skills to balance school, homework, activities, family responsibilities and just having fun. Here are some tips for building effective time management practices to last through college and beyond.
1. Figure out what has to be done.
- Make a list of everything that’s required, such as sleep, school, homework, organized sports and activities, work, and family and household commitments.
- Add in fun activities.
2. Determine the time commitment for each activity.
- Plan for at least eight hours of sleep and a couple of hours for meals and personal care each day.
- Use classroom materials or talk to teachers to determine adequate time to reserve for studying, projects and other schoolwork.
- Incorporate additional time for meeting improvement goals.
- Consider preparation for sporadic events like standardized tests, recitals and conferences.
3. Block out commitments using a planner or calendar.
- Break big projects down into multiple stages instead of just listing a deadline.
- Color-coding can be a visual cue for the most important items.
- Ensure new assignments and commitments are recorded daily or as soon as they’re known.
4. Make a daily to-do list.
- Put the most challenging or important items at the top to be done first.
- Think about rewards for completing tasks on the to-do list.
- Take along portable items, such as a book, notes and flashcards, to stay on track during idle moments.
5. Be strategic.
- If procrastination is a problem, find out why. Is extra help with homework needed? Is it an activity that has become less appealing over time?
- Discover the student’s best working conditions for completing specific tasks. Is it better to do math after school or after dinner? Is running better first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening?
- Stay organized. A clean environment with all the needed materials at hand helps move things along with fewer distractions.
6. Develop a routine.
- Set aside dedicated study time every day, even if the time of day must change periodically for seasonal or special activities.
- Be consistent to reach short- and long-term goals.
7. Set priorities and resolve conflicts.
- Remember that it’s important to set aside time to recharge and relax. Some students need time to read, be with friends, exercise, play games or enjoy other recreational pursuits.
- Understand the consequences for not getting something done to help prioritize the most important items.
- Approaching a coach or teacher with alternatives sometimes helps resolve conflicts, but understand that as pressures and commitments build, something may need to be dropped.