As a student, it’s only natural for you to look for ways to maximize your time while spending the least amount of time possible on things you don’t enjoy. Enter time management, a skill that will only become more important as you travel through life. Below are several tips that helped me utilize my time more effectively during the past school year.
1. Determine your priorities
Ideally, you should be spending the most time on the things that matter most to you. Whether it’s acing that difficult AP class or making sure you visit your grandmother in the nursing home every week, everyone has something at the top of their list to accomplish. Take a few minutes to write down the main ways you want to spend your time; make sure to include homework, family time, sports, and hobbies along with sleep, exercise, and downtime. Now it’s time to incorporate these activities into your lifestyle.
2. Track your time
It’s amazing how eye-opening it can be to maintain a log of your time temporarily. Especially if you simply wonder where the time goes, keeping a log of what you do with your time will give you exact answers. Diana Niemann, a teacher at South Mecklenburg High School, has even created a time management activity for her students so they can keep better track of their commitments and “schedule appointments with their homework” instead of waiting until the last minute or not completing their assignments at all. The activity, created in conjunction with the CMS K-12 Talent Development Vertical Alignment Team, provides students with a gridded time sheet of a five-day week broken into 15-minute increments. The idea is that if students document how their time is being spent, they can utilize that information to plan and organize their lives more productively. Try logging your activities over a one-week period and watch how much more aware you are of where time is lost and how long things take. Once you determine these details for yourself, you can decide where there are pockets of time that are being underutilized along with areas in which you are spending too much time.
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3. Plan it out
I really can’t say enough about this. The biggest key to becoming a time management guru is to have a basic timetable of what you plan to do in a block of time. The biggest trap here is thinking you can plan it all out in your head. Don’t fall for it. Either take out your phone and type it up in the notes app or, better yet, carry a small notebook or agenda where you can efficiently keep track of your tasks, plans, and responsibilities. Plus, writing by hand has been shown to lead to better memory of what you are writing down. Having a plan makes you powerful; you are in charge of what you accomplish.
4. Schedule downtime
Just because you’re a hard-working student doesn’t mean you should scrimp on time with family, your health, or your social life. All three are extremely important! It can be difficult to avoid overscheduling and overextending yourself in an attempt to use your time as successfully as possible, but remember to mark off some time for the basics. As a teenager, the recommended number of hours of sleep ranges from eight to 10 hours, and at least 60 minutes of physical activity is necessary each day. Fulfilling these benchmarks will only improve your immunity, concentration, and productivity, so don’t fool yourself into gaining time by cutting the time you devote to your health and body. Remember, good time management is all about prioritizing what you do with your time and recognizing the way you spend the free time you do have.
Related: 8 Tips for Finding Balance in College
We all get 24 hours a day, but the way we use that time is the gamechanger. If you organize and manage your time better, you’ll be less stress and more focused in school—usually resulting in better grades. Make this school year count and bring yourself increased free time by managing your time to the best of your abilities.
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