Time Management for Students

By gemmacreagh - Last update

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A students’ time is a limited resource and has to be effectively managed. Research has suggested that time management practices influence educational achievement. If you want to become a better student and improve your learning, it’s vital that you apply the correct time management techniques to your studies. Doing so can better equip you to reach your studying goals as it facilitates you to create a structure to your studying, which allows you to strengthen focus and sharpen your time management to precision, thus enabling you to achieve your learning objectives

Below we take a look at some time management methods you can apply immediately to take control of your workflow and improve your learning outcomes when you are studying.



Ask yourself the question: How do you approach your study? Do you have a schedule when you sit down to study? If the answer is no, then it’s time to change. If you think about many things you do in your life, they often follow a schedule – from getting up in the morning, to going to the gym to cooking dinner. There’s a reason for this. It’s the most efficient and productive way of getting whatever you are doing done! And yet many students don’t apply this to studying, often studying when they can or here and there at irregular intervals. Not good enough. So let’s start at the beginning. You have to make the time to study regularly rather than fit it in where you can.

Get yourself an organiser and create a daily schedule template. This puts you in control of your time. It will help you stay organized and focused on what is important. Block off study time in advance and stick to it. Whether it’s working around lectures or your part-time job, set down your study blocks. By doing this, you commit yourself and your time to studying. It becomes an appointment you stick to. So, rather than not studying because your friends are meeting for coffee, it’s now a case of you can’t meet your friends for coffee because you are studying. Job done.


Set Goals 

Ask yourself what is it I want to learn at the end of this study period. Don’t just study and expect that everything you read is going to go from the page into your brain and then you can use it whenever you need to. Unfortunately that’s not how it works. So rather than just reading about the films of Stanley Kubrick, set yourself the specific goal of studying the use of light in Kubrick’s films. Now you know what you want to come out of this study period with. Plus you will have achieved concrete results based on the clear targets you set out to hit. By the end of each study period, you should be able to clearly state what it is you have learned.


Break Things Down

If we break water down into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis, we are actually breaking it down into simpler components, We can apply this as a learning philosophy. Don’t overwhelm yourself by focusing on the bigger picture. It can be much more manageable to break down a study topic into smaller topics and focus on studying each one separately one step at a time rather than just plough on through to get to the end.

As well as being able to get a better idea of how much work is involved, you will be better able to reach that goal in the time you want to by breaking up the task at hand and successfully working on each piece and reaching the end.

Think of how you first learned to tie your shoelaces… 


Avoid Multi-Tasking

We often hear that there are benefits to being able to multitask. That may, in certain situations, be very true. But for studying, use your time wisely and focus in one direction and on one thing. In general, if you set your focus to one thing at a time you will save time, which can then be used more effectively. If you’re working on 2 essays, don’t jump from one to the other. Manage your time on one – get it done. And then move to the other.

Keep it simple. Don’t do two things at once do them one at a time!


Minimize Distractions

Turn off your phone and put it away. Log out of all social networks on the device you’re working on – don’t let all your plans and organised time management be compromised by an Instagram post of your friend’s dog and the rabbit hole it opens up. Believe it or not, the world won’t have changed much during the time you studied and you’ll have plenty of time to catch up when you’ve finished. So phones off and social networks offline. 


Take Breaks

One of my lecturers told me that my brain could only focus for so long. Thankfully she wasn’t just implying that I had a problem concentrating, she was in fact reiterating “common psychological wisdom” that tells us that the human brain can concentrate on one thing only for 40 – 45 minutes. So schedule those blocks with 10 – 15 minute breaks.

Referring back to our earlier advice, by doing this you are breaking things up and again are able to decide what you are going to accomplish during those 45 minutes. Take a break. Reflect on your goal and move on to your next objective.

Manage your time and take your breaks. Your mind will thank you for it. Hitting the books for long stretches is counter-productive. A time managed mind is a rested mind. A rested mind is a refreshed mind. A refreshed mind is a receptive mind. 


Avoid Procrastination

Actually I might write about this later… we love to put things off. It’s a way of avoiding something by shifting it to the future so we don’t feel bad about not doing it now. We trick ourselves into believing that it is getting done – just not now. The problem with this self deceit is that sometimes what we put off we then never do or when we actually do get around to doing it, it is taking up time we could have used to do something else. In effect you are forever behind once you start to procrastinate.

As the great philosopher Nike said, “Just do it!”


Reward Yourself

You’ve done the work, now reward yourself! Feel good about yourself. Take ownership of your achievement. Be proud of what you’ve done. Congratulate yourself. Create some positive energy around your achievement. That energy will reinforce your time management practices, encourage you to build better habits and drive you forward to long-term success.






Gemma is a nomadic writer, filmmaker, & journalist.
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