Everyone gets the same 24 hours each day.
Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, Isaac Newton, Eleanor Roosevelt, Leonardo da Vinci – they all had 24 hours a day, just like you and me.
What enabled them to lead such significant lives?
They managed their time well.
This article is all about effective time management tips for students.
As a student, I got straight A’s while sleeping eight hours a night, and graduated from Duke University with a GPA of 3.98/4.0.
(I don’t say this to boast, because education definitely isn’t only about getting straight A’s!)
But given that so many students ask me to share time management tips with them, I decided to compile the best ones I know.
By putting the tips in this article into practice, you’ll become more focused and less stressed.
You’ll have more time to do meaningful things outside of school too!
So let’s take a look at the 45 tips.
1. Take a study break every 40 to 50 minutes
Research shows that working in blocks of 40 to 50 minutes is optimal for productivity.
If you feel as if you can’t focus for that long, try out the Pomodoro Technique for a start.
2. If you’re feeling unmotivated, set a timer for two minutes
If you don’t feel like doing work, set a timer for two minutes. Then tell yourself that you just need to focus for that amount of time.
Chances are that once you’ve started work, you’ll continue even after the two minutes are up.
3. Make good use of your travel time
It’s tempting to use your commute time to surf the Internet or go through your social media feeds.
But you can use the time to think about a concept you haven’t grasped, write in your gratitude journal, or listen to an audiobook.
This is a simple time management tip that goes a long way in helping you become a successful student!
4. Keep a time log for a few days
Do you feel as if you’ve been unproductive, but you’re not sure where all your time has been going?
If so, I recommend that you keep a time log for three to four days.
Keep track of everything you do during those few days. You’ll then have a much better idea as to how you can manage your time more effectively.
5. If you don’t understand a new concept, speak to your teacher right away
If you do this, you’ll save a lot of time in the long run, because you’ll be clarifying your doubts as they arise.
6. Keep an ongoing list of every single thing you have to do
Don’t rely on your brain as a storage device.
Instead, write down every single thing you need to do: assignments, projects, errands, etc.
Review the list daily to ensure that you’re working on the most important task at any given time.
7. Unfollow everyone on social media, except the people you really care about
I did this a year ago, and it’s saved me hundreds of hours!
Not only that, I realise that I don’t even miss not getting updates from most of those people I’d been following.
8. Turn off notifications on your tablet and phone
Do this and say goodbye to all the interruptions you’ve been getting when you were supposed to be focusing on your schoolwork.
This tip alone will make you a much more productive student.
9. Unsubscribe from all YouTube channels
This tip is similar to Tip #7. If you unsubscribe from all YouTube channels, you’ll discover that there are only a few channels whose videos you really enjoy.
These are the channels that you’ll intentionally visit so you can watch the latest videos they’ve posted.
Which means you don’t actually need to subscribe to these channels!
10. Mute your group chats on your phone
In most group chats, there’s a lot of “noise” – messages that are neither urgent nor important.
Mute your group chats, and look through them once a day to ensure that you haven’t missed out anything important.
11. Use a very long password for your tablet and phone
Set a password that’s 15 to 20 characters long.
By doing this, you’ll become more conscious about when and how you use your tablet and phone.
You won’t use these devices mindlessly, which means that you’ll become a more focused and effective student.
12. Delete all social media apps on your tablet and phone
Once again, this tip will empower you to use your tablet and phone more intentionally.
If you want to check your social media feeds, you can still do so through the Internet browser.
But you’re less likely to do so as often because of the slight inconvenience, as compared to opening the social media app directly.
13. Before you start a study session, put your tablet and phone in another room
This is a simple way to ensure that these electronic devices don’t distract you.
By maximising the effectiveness of each study session, you’ll manage your time better.
14. At the beginning of each study session, write down the task you’re going to work on
It’s easy to get sidetracked during a study session, which is where this tip comes in handy.
On a rough sheet of paper, write down the specific task you’re going to work on (e.g. Science assignment, Question #1 to 5) and put it on your study table.
This will remind you to stay focused on that task as you’re working on it.
15. Create a rough schedule for each day of the week
Every successful person I know follows a daily routine. So do these famous people.
To be a master of time management, create a schedule for each day of the week, e.g. when you’ll exercise, relax, study, spend time with family.
It’s impossible to follow the schedule to the minute. But you’ll be far more productive if you use the schedule as a rough framework, rather than not using a schedule at all.
16. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day
Many students overestimate what they can accomplish each day. When they don’t manage to complete everything they intended to, they get discouraged and lose motivation.
So be realistic when you plan your day, and assume that there will be a few unforeseen interruptions.
17. Make time to reflect on a weekly basis
Once a week, take ten minutes to think about the week gone by.
Think about what went well and what didn’t go so well.
Decide what changes you’ll make in the coming week, and write them down.
18. For every homework assignment you receive, decide when you’re going to start working on it
Be as specific as possible, e.g. “I’m going to start working on the English essay this coming Wednesday at 4 p.m.”
This is far better than saying to yourself, “I’m going to start working on the English essay as soon as possible.”
19. Finish every homework assignment at least one to two days before it’s due
In this way, you’ll have time to check through your work thoroughly.
And just in case something urgent pops up at the last minute, you’ll still be able to complete the assignment on time.
20. Learn to say no
There’s an endless list of ways that you could spend your time.
This means that you must learn to say no to the things that aren’t aligned with your priorities.
Get in the habit of saying no more often. If you need ideas as to how you can say no both politely and firmly, check out this article.
21. Determine when you’re most productive, and work on your hardest assignments during that time
Do you work best in the afternoon? Or are you most productive at night?
Work on your hardest assignments and projects during your most productive hours of the day. This is a powerful way to make the most of your time.
22. In your calendar, block out time for homework and studying
As the saying goes, “If it doesn’t get scheduled, it doesn’t get done.”
If you’re serious about effective time management, then block out time in your schedule for homework and studying.
23. Remove all distractions from your study table
If there are magazines, books, souvenirs, toys, etc. on or near your study table, which distract you while you’re studying, then remove them.
Put them at the other end of the room, or move them to another room.
(Go ahead, do it right now!)
24. Get eight hours of sleep every night
Research has proven that a lack of sleep affects your concentration, memory, mood, and overall health.
To be a productive student, make sure that you get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
(Students always tell me that it’s impossible to get eight hours of sleep a night. But if you apply all the tips in this article, I’m sure you’ll be able to!)
25. Prepare for class every day
Every day, think about the classes you’ll be attending in school the following day.
Take a few minutes to skim through the notes from the previous class, as well as the notes for the upcoming class (assuming you already have them).
This way, you’ll be well prepared for each class, which means that you’ll gain more from what is taught.
26. Exercise at least three times a week
Exercise boosts your memory and brain function.
So make it a priority to exercise at least three times a week or more.
By ensuring that your brain is functioning optimally, you’ll be able to concentrate better and manage your time better too.
27. Write down all your test dates and assignment due dates in your calendar
As mentioned in Point #6, don’t rely on your brain as a storage device.
Write down all important dates in your calendar, e.g. tests, exams, assignment and project due dates.
When you do this consistently, you won’t be caught off-guard a day before an assignment is due.
28. Set reminders for when to start studying for tests
It’s a good idea to set a reminder or make a note in your calendar as to when you’ll start preparing for an upcoming test.
This makes it more likely that you’ll start studying for the test early.
29. Review new information you’ve learned within 24 hours
This is crucial if you want to move the information to your long-term memory.
Furthermore, by reviewing the new information within 24 hours, you’ll also be able to identify which concepts you don’t fully understand. You can then apply Tip #5.
30. For projects and big assignments, always be clear about what the next step is
One of the main reasons that students procrastinate is that they aren’t clear what exactly they should do next for a project or assignment.
I recommend that you keep a list of “next actions” for each project or big assignment, so that you always know what you ought to do next.
31. Never skip classes
I know… when the teacher is boring or the material is uninteresting to you, it’s so tempting to skip class.
But resist the temptation.
If you skip classes, you’ll need to spend more time in the long run catching up. In addition, during class your teacher will highlight the key concepts. This will make it easier for you to understand the material.
32. If you’re feeling unmotivated, change your studying environment
There’s no harm in mixing it up once in a while to give you a boost in productivity.
On weekdays, you might decide to do all of your homework and studying at home. While on weekends, you might decide to go to a nearby library or café for a change in environment.
33. If a task takes less than three minutes to complete, do it right away
Many tasks fall in this category: sending a file to your classmate via email, asking your parents to sign a consent form, clearing the clothes off of your room floor.
Once you get a chance to perform the task, do it immediately. This will ensure that these small tasks don’t pile up and become overwhelming.
34. Create a study plan for every test and exam
Don’t just tell yourself that you’ll study hard for an upcoming test.
Instead, create a study plan where you list what you’ll do to prepare for the test. Create a rough timeline to go along with the plan as well.
35. Put a clock on your study table
Students often lose track of time while they’re studying or doing their homework.
I recommend that you put a clock on your study table so that you’re always aware of the time.
Being aware of the time is vital if you want to become a student who’s an expert at time management.
36. Eliminate any perfectionist tendencies
Students who are perfectionists are also the ones who are most likely to procrastinate.
If you’re a perfectionist, set a rule for yourself that you can only work on one task at a time, and that you must complete the task before moving on to another task.
This way, you won’t jump from one task to another, while making little progress overall.
37. Clear your study table at least once every two days
Scientists have found that physical clutter makes it harder for you to concentrate.
My own experiences tell me that this is true too, which is why I do my best to keep my desk free of clutter.
I recommend that you clear your study table at least once every two days – once a day is even more ideal.
This will help you to be more focused and productive!
38. Write down your priorities and review them weekly
Take ten minutes to write down your priorities in life. (Don’t list more than four or five.)
Think about whether the way you spend your time is in line with these priorities.
Repeat this review process once a week to ensure that you stay on track.
39. Check your email and text messages just three to four times a day
For most students, checking and replying to text messages and emails takes an hour or two each day.
To become a more efficient student, make it a point to check your email and text messages just a few times each day.
40. Eat a healthy breakfast every single day
Eating a healthy breakfast has been linked to enhanced focus and mental performance.
This explains why successful students never skip breakfast!
41. Do deep breathing exercises for two to three minutes a day
Deep breathing improves focus and reduces stress.
Start with a couple of minutes of deep breathing a day, and increase gradually from there.
Read this article for the specifics on how to perform deep breathing exercises.
42. List your main distractions and time wasters, and eliminate them
Students often aren’t even aware what their main distractions and time wasters are.
So take a few minutes and think about what your biggest distractions are. Write them down on a sheet of paper, and come up with an action plan to eliminate – or at least reduce – them.
43. Set a fixed time to stop work each day
For example, you might decide that you’ll stop work at 9 p.m. every day.
Once you start keeping to this, you’ll notice that your time management has improved.
This is because having a fixed “stop time” every day keeps you focused on the tasks you need to complete. You won’t find yourself thinking that there’s still plenty of time to get the work done.
44. Hang out with motivated and productive people
As Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.”
Make it a point to hang out with motivated, passionate and productive people. You’ll become more like them over time.
45. Listen to Baroque music while you’re studying
Studies have shown that listening to certain kinds of Baroque music has a beneficial effect on memory, attention and mood.
I listen to Baroque music every time I do work, and I’ve found that it helps me to concentrate.
You can start by listening to the Baroque music found here.
“Time management” sounds like a simple concept, but it isn’t.
There are so many distractions in this digital age we live in. As such, it’s becoming harder and harder for students to master the art of time management.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to be a productive student. It just means that it’ll require effort on your part.
Effort to get rid of old habits.
Effort to form new habits.
Effort to keep on trying, even when you feel like you’ll never be a focused student.
This article is close to 3,000 words long. You’ve made it to the end, so I know you’re committed to putting in the necessary effort.
Apply the tips in this article one day at a time, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a successful student.
More than that, you would have developed the skills and habits that will enable you to make a greater contribution to society over the long run.
I wish you all the best on this meaningful journey!
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