Time Management for Students in 5 Easy Steps

7 min to read
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 Finding out your time-management personality can help you and your Learning Coach to develop a time-management plan or time-management curriculum that fits your unique style and helps you reduce stress, succeed in school, and make more time for friends, family, and fun.

What Is Time Management?

Time management is the ability to use one’s time efficiently and effectively. In other words, it’s the ability to organize and devote your time to different tasks that you need to accomplish and/or you want to do.

Why Is Time Management Important?

Learning how to manage your time effectively will give you the skills you need in order to succeed at school and, eventually, in your career. It will also teach you the skills that allow you to do what you want to do for fun and maintain your personal relationships.

Time-management skills ultimately help you find and achieve balance in your life—something that is critical for online students with busy schedules. It is a skill that elementary, middle, and high school students should start practicing as soon as possible. 

Good time-management also helps to combat procrastination and a lack of organization. It involves prioritizing assignments and tasks, learning how to reduce distractions, and practicing focus.

Time management can also help students:

5 Steps of Time Management

Before you discover your time-management personality, here is a five-step time-management plan to help you get started:

1. Analyze how you’re spending your time.

For two school days, track how you spend every hour of the day. Be thorough and honest. Include eating, sleeping, studying, attending LiveLesson® sessions, spending time on social media, playing video games or sports, and watching TV. This will help you analyze how you are spending your time so that you can develop a time-management plan. 

As an enrolled student, you can use the Connections Academy® activity tracker to log your time for reading assignments, music practice, physical activities, etc. If you want to track everything in one place, then try our downloadable time tracking sheet template.

2. Create a priority list.

Your priority list should include everything that you need to do today, including any social or family commitments, so that you know what responsibilities to include in your time-management plan. 

Group the items based on whether they’re one-time, daily, or recurring tasks, as well as according to their deadlines. Now, rank each of the items on your to-do list as A, B, or C, based on their importance:

A = Important and urgent
B = Important but not urgent
C = Not important and not urgent

For example, let’s assume that your SAT test is two months away, your history paper is due tomorrow, your best friend is counting on you to attend her recital, and you can’t afford to fall behind on reading assignments. Your final, prioritized to-do list for today might look like this:

Daily tasks 
A. Read class assignments 
A. Walk the dog 
B. Phone or text friends 

Recurring (but not daily) tasks 
A. Attend a LiveLesson® session 
B. Study for the SAT 
C. Get a haircut 

One-time task 
A. Attend a friend’s music recital
B. Finish history paper (due tomorrow)

Keep in mind that circumstances and priorities may change daily. For example, while studying for the SAT may be a “B” today, it’s likely to become an “A” the week before the test.

3. Track your to-do list items.

Use a calendar or planner to estimate and block out a time slot for each to-do list item.

Enter all of the recurring items first. For example, if Mondays from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. are reserved for LiveLesson® sessions or soccer practice, then you’ll want to know that slot is unavailable for other tasks.

Then, enter all of your “A” high-priority items first, followed by the “B”s and “C”s.

4. Make adjustments.

Learning how to manage your time is going to take some time and flexibility to find what works best with your habits, what habits you want to create, and what your time-management personality is like (explained further below). Remember: Have patience with yourself.

5. Do, review, and repeat daily.

As you go through your day, tackle tasks based on how you’ve organized your “A,” “B,” and “C” priorities in your planner. Check off your completed tasks, copy uncompleted tasks to tomorrow’s to-do list, and start the entire process over from Step 2.

An online student using a time management plan to get through her work.

Evaluate Your Time-Management Personality and Style

Knowing your time-management style will help you find the strategies that work specifically for you and will help you develop your unique time-management plan. 

Review each time-management personality type below to uncover your style. Don’t worry if you have traits in more than one category.

The Early Bird

Famous early birds include George Washington and Queen Victoria. Here are some common traits of the Early Bird:

  • When I get an assignment, I immediately identify all of the tasks involved and plan my time accordingly.·
  • When planning or working on projects and portfolios, I prefer working on one subject and project at a time.
  • I’m usually one of the first people to arrive for class or social events.
  • I get stressed when other people are late or when something forces me to be late.

Since Early Birds like to focus on one project at a time, they should make the most of that focus by scheduling tasks at the time that works best for them. For instance, if they are most alert in the mornings but drag in the afternoons, then they should schedule their high-priority “A” tasks in the morning and save their “B”s and “C”s for the afternoon.

The Multitasker

Well-known multitaskers include Lucille Ball, Amelia Earhart, and John F. Kennedy. Here are some common traits of the Multitasker:

  • I often do other things while doing an exercise or task. 
  • I like having control over my schedule so I can “switch it up” to keep school and life interesting.
  • I often underestimate how long it will take me to complete a task.
  • I tend to wait until the last minute to do items on my to-do list.

The Multitasker should keep a time log of how long a task actually takes versus how long they originally thought the task would take. Also, scheduling 15 extra minutes for tasks can help the Multitasker learn how not to underestimate tasks and budget their time efficiently.

The Helper

Famous helpers include Oprah Winfrey, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa. Here are some common traits of the Helper:

  • I like to forward posts to friends who also need time management help.
  • I remind my friends about fun events and decide if I will attend based on their interest.
  • Sometimes, I fall behind on my work because I’m helping a friend or family member.
  • I find it difficult to say “no” when someone asks for my help.

The Helper may find themselves falling behind because they’re too busy helping others. So, consider building more time into every project and into your time-management plan. Also, consider dedicating a specific time slot for maintaining friendships, such as setting aside an hour a week to chat with friends.

The Deliberator

Famous deliberators include Sherlock Holmes, Quincy Jones, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Moses. Here are some common traits of the Deliberator:

  • I often consider what I should learn from an exercise in order to try and do better on my next assignment.
  • I see the whole picture and the small parts, and I excel at breaking down large projects into individual tasks according to their priorities. 
  • I like to make decisions based on facts, and I want time to review all information needed for a given task.
  • I am stressed when someone imposes a deadline that requires me to rush. 

Since the Deliberator excels at breaking large projects into individual tasks, they should incorporate that approach into their planner and time-management plan. They should get as detailed as they like so that they feel in control and because they receive satisfaction from checking off tasks one-by-one.

Now that you know your time-management personality as well as the five steps to time management, you can develop a time-management plan that works for you and practice vital time-management skills that will help you reduce stress and become successful in your academics and eventual career.

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