The average college student spends an hour preparing and studying every week for each credit hour. Educators recommend spending two hours preparing for each credit hour. It’s easy to become overwhelmed between classes, work, and other activities. Here are some strategies that can improve time management for students.
Time Management FAQs
The best time management strategy depends on what your studying goals are. Here are some things to consider.
1. Who needs to adopt a time management strategy?
High school students should learn how to plan their study sessions. Younger students can start using time management techniques, but not all students are ready to start using to-do lists and planners in middle school. A simple weekly planner to keep track of assignments should be sufficient before high school.
Ideally, you should know how to organize your time and study effectively by the time you start college. If you already are in college or find yourself taking AP classes in high school or studying for your SAT, now is the perfect time to start using time management strategies.
2. Which method is best for you?
We recommend trying different methods to figure out what works for you. Take the time to identify your challenges and obstacles. Ask your parents and teachers for some feedback on how you study.
It will be easier to select a strategy once you know what you need to prioritize. You can also choose a time management method depending on what your goals are or what motivates you.
3. How much time should you spend on studying?
Recommendations vary between two and three hours a week per credit hour for college students. High school students typically have ten hours of homework a week, but a lot of students end up studying for more than ten hours between AP classes and the SAT.
It's crucial to find a balance between studying and leisure to manage your stress. Adopting the right time management techniques will help you get more done so that you can get good grades while achieving a healthy balance with other activities.
How We Chose Time Management Strategies for Students
We believe time management for students should be easy. We selected methods that are simple and that you can adapt to match your goals and needs.
The methods we selected will help you study more effectively, set some goals, and achieve them. You can choose one of the ways listed below or try combining two or three of them.
We recommend trying different tools and strategies to find methods you like using.
How to Effectively Manage Your Time
Here are a few tips that will help you get the most out of the time management methods we recommend using:
The Top Four Time Management Strategies for Students
Here are the tools and strategies we recommend using to improve your grades and study more effectively.
To-do lists are great organizational tools. They are easy to use, and you can create different lists to manage all your tasks.
To-do lists are quick and easy organizational tools. You can create lists on your phone and update them throughout the day, or use a notebook or journal. We like to-do lists because crossing items off your list feels good, and you can take a quick glance at your list to stay on track.
You can study more effectively by creating different to-do lists. You could have one list for each class to keep track of readings and assignments. You can also have a daily and a weekly list to take care of essential tasks.
Use your to-do lists to prioritize important tasks. Starting your day with a list of
ten or more tasks can feel overwhelming. Choose three or four tasks that you need to accomplish for the day.
Combine to-do lists with other time management methods. These lists won’t help you keep track of time, and they aren't ideal for planning things in details. However, it's an excellent tool for prioritizing essential tasks.
Daily, Weekly, and Monthly Planners
We recommend using daily and weekly planners, along with a monthly calendar. These organizational tools will help you keep track of your goals and plan things in details.
Using a daily, weekly, and monthly planner will help you adopt a goal-based approach to studying. Each planner has a different purpose.
Your monthly planner helps you keep track of deadlines and assignments. You can set monthly goals such as improving your GPA, finishing a book, or mastering a specific skill.
Your weekly planner doubles as your class schedule. Use this planner to block time for studying and make sure you have some time set aside for other activities, like socializing, exercising, or meal-prep. You can use your weekly planner to break down your monthly goals into smaller steps.
Your daily planner should be a lot more detailed. Block some time to study and make lists of what you need to accomplish during each study session. You can also use your daily planner to block some time for social activities or sport.
For instance, you could use your weekly planner to set a goal like mastering a unit in a textbook. You would then plan a reading session on Monday, go over your study cards on Tuesday, and go over the material again on Thursday.
The key to using planners is to know how much you can accomplish in a day or week. Time management can become stressful if you plan too many tasks. Remember that you don’t need to plan something for every hour of your day. It’s important to have some downtime.
Planning will become easier as you get used to these tools and get a better idea of how much you can realistically get done in a day.
The Pomodoro technique is a classic time management method. It helps you break down tasks into smaller blocks and improves your ability to focus.
Developer and author Francesco Cirillo came up with the Pomodoro technique when he was a college student. This method is very easy to use.
Work for 25 minutes, take a short break, and get back to work for another 25 minutes. You can take a longer break after completing four 25-minute sessions.
We like the Pomodoro technique because it helps you stay focused. Your brain needs time to digest and retain information. Taking short breaks will help you process everything you learn.
It’s perfect for study sessions because you can read for 25 minutes, take five or ten-minute break, and complete homework questions during the next 25-minute interval. You can easily adjust the duration of the intervals if you need to.
Studying in 25-minute intervals help you keep your study sessions varied and interesting.
Sitting in front of the same textbook for hours often doesn’t help you retain information effectively. You will learn a lot more if you spend 25 minutes on a topic and move on to something else.
You can also use this technique to introduce repetition in your study plan. On average, we need to go over something seven or eight times before retaining it. Your teacher might only go over material two or three times in class. You need to go over the same study material more than once to retain key concepts.
Set specific goals for each interval. It might be difficult to determine how much you can get done within 25 minutes at first, but planning your study sessions will become easier once you get used to this method.
The downside of this method is that it’s tempting to check social media or text a friend during breaks. It’s best to go outside, eat a snack, or stretch so you don’t get distracted and get back to studying at the end of the break.
Pareto Analysis or 80:20 Rule
The Pareto analysis is a common time management method used in corporate settings. Students can adapt it to study more effectively and prioritize important tasks.
The 80:20 rule states that 20% of tasks or 20% of time yield 80% of the results. In a business environment, it means that employees can focus on a few key tasks to boost productivity.
You can adapt this approach for your study sessions. What are the things that can help you progress the most for a class? What helps you retain information? Answer these questions to figure out which tasks you should prioritize.
The Pareto analysis is a method that will help you prioritize what you do. Make a list of all the tasks you need to accomplish and create three columns:
The Pareto analysis is a great way to determine what you should focus on when studying for a big test or organizing a busy week. It allows you to focus on what generates the most value for you. The urgent and important column can help you identify the things you should add to your daily to-do lists.
Comparing Different Time Management Methods
Which time management methods will work best for you? This table should help you select the best strategies.
What you should use it for
Quick and easy to use
Doesn’t help you manage time
Keep track of important tasks
Daily, weekly, monthly planners
Set goals and achieve them
Risk of planning too much
Block time to study and set realistic goals
25-minute intervals aren’t flexible
Plan daily study sessions
80:20 rule doesn’t always work in academic settings
Identify the most important things you should prioritize
The most successful students use a combination of these methods or develop a unique time management system that works for them. Time management for students doesn’t have to be complicated. Start using these four techniques to plan your study sessions, and you should see a difference right away!