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Time Management Strategies to Increase Your Productivity
Students aren’t usually just students. Many also have jobs, extracurricular activities, social lives, leadership roles, and familial obligations. Add to these constant demands on our collective attention (including from social media), and finding dedicated time to focus can feel impossible.
Time management strategies can help busy students enhance focus, avoid procrastination, and complete complex tasks. Like all skills, time management requires practice. The sooner you begin practicing time management skills, the more prepared you will be for higher education and future jobs.
How do you practice? Get started with these four effective time management strategies:
Prioritize your tasks
Start by identifying your most important and urgent tasks. Which assignment has a strict deadline or is imminently due? That’s the task that should be moved to the top of your priority list. Don’t get caught up in “productive procrastination”—doing needed or beneficial tasks (e.g., laundry or cleaning) while other, more pressing tasks are looming. Tackle your tasks in their order of priority so you can remain focused on what matters and prevent last-minute stress.
Minimizing distractions while studying is an essential skill that requires both patience and consistency to put into practice. Focus techniques such as putting away your phone, closing unnecessary tabs on your computer, and finding a quiet study environment can be helpful. Additionally, utilizing methods such as the Pomodoro Technique (working for 25 minutes, then taking a five-minute break) can further enhance productivity. Contrary to popular belief, multitasking often leads to reduced productivity and increased errors, so to maintain optimal focus, you should work on one task at a time, complete it, and then move on to the next.
Create a schedule
Make use of a physical planner or digital planning tools, such as Notion or iStudiez Pro, to create a schedule. Within your daily or weekly plans, make use of specific time slots for studying, attending classes, completing assignments, and other activities. As you’re familiarizing yourself with using a planner, try to stick to the schedule as much as possible. Once you get into the rhythm of your new schedule, don’t be afraid to make adjustments if something isn’t working for you.
Break projects into manageable chunks
This practice works for notetaking, and it has broader applications, too. Large tasks can feel daunting—and when you have a complex assignment to complete, it can be tempting to procrastinate. Breaking big assignments into smaller, more manageable parts can be an effective strategy to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Consider the analogy of baking a cake: You procure the recipe, assemble your ingredients, mix together the dry ingredients, add the rest, bake, let cool, and then repeat much of that process for the frosting. Write a “recipe” you can follow with your projects, too! For example, if you have a book report due, you will need to read the book, note down the main ideas, create an outline, write your essay (and we recommend submitting your draft for review by a Tutor.com expert tutor!), make revisions, proofread, and then submit. As you gain experience, you’ll become adept at figuring out how much time to allocate to each chunk.
Time management is a learned skill that requires practice and discipline. As you begin experimenting with the strategies that will work best for you, don’t be afraid to try new tools and make adjustments along the way.
Want to learn more about time management? Watch our webinar to get expert tips!