Time management is one of the most important skills you will ever learn. Below are a couple of strategies listed to help you get started. Keep in mind that these may not be applicable for all, so try what you think will work for you!

Planning techniques

It may seem cliché, but planning is one of the most important parts of making any life change! For some, this could mean creating elaborate journal spreads to write down tasks. For others, it may be keeping sticky notes. The most essential part of planning is keeping this in mind: what will be the easiest for you to access both in and out of class? You want a planning device that you can easily view as a reminder for yourself. If you have technology restrictions in class, use a small journal where you can scribble notes. If you have no technology restrictions, consider using Excel or Notion to establish deadlines for assignments. Speaking of deadlines…

Find out your deadlines

A large majority of classes will either hand out a calendar or syllabus at the beginning of the year. It’s crucial that you read and take note of these. You might have a variety of classes with a lot of papers, so make sure at the beginning of the year you consolidate all your class deadlines or policies into one document that you can easily access. Excel, Sheets, Notion, or even pen and paper are really great for this. The key to good time management is having constant reminders of tasks so you are more likely to hold yourself accountable.

Organize your tasks

When you look over your tasks, you’ll likely begin to realize that you can group them into two categories. First will be fixed tasks. These are tasks like read 15 pages of your textbook, or complete 3 questions of your homework. With fixed tasks, it’s often easy to estimate the duration of time that it will take to complete it. However, there are also variable tasks like cleaning your room, studying for a test, or drafting an essay. These don’t have a specific metric to determine when the task is done. You can technically finish studying for a test by glancing at your notes, or you could read the textbook and watch review videos on YouTube. Therefore, a great way to consolidate your time management is to turn your variable tasks into fixed tasks. Rather than writing “study for a test”, turn it into something like “Re-read chapters 1 and 2”. That way, you can have a better estimation for how long it will take, and you won’t need to sacrifice other tasks to finish out a task that took longer than you expected.

Remove all distractions

Oftentimes, we plan to do productive things, but are interrupted by a notification or an impulse to watch YouTube. For many of us, the act of picking up our phone or typing YouTube in our browser has become muscle memory. We don’t need to be doing it, but we do it subconsciously because we have trained ourselves to do it. So, try and remove all distractions. Take your phone off your desk and consider downloading website blockers that deny access to certain websites for a specific period of time. These tools are great to disrupt the instinctive action to click on a website or pick up our phone.

Creating a personalized time management technique can be a long and difficult journey. Everyone’s brains work differently, so don’t be too hard on yourself if one technique doesn’t work. Continue to explore your options, and don’t feel restricted to certain techniques. I promise you, with time and practice, managing your time will become much easier.