One of the most valuable things to any student is time.
The struggle to find a balance between getting good grades, joining extra-curricular activities, staying active, holding a part-time job, having a social life, and still having time left over to enjoy personal pleasures such as social media or Netflix can seem impossible.
We all wish we could fit in just one more thing, just one more person. Sadly, we’re usually unable to do so, either due to lack of time or simply mismanaging our schedules.
That’s why time management is extremely important for students — not only will you be successful and happy in the pursuit of your goals, but you’ll keep your sanity too!
1. Keep a calendar or agenda
It can be really easy to lose track of dates, times, and places to meet people if you never write them down. This can leave you wondering whether your bio exam is on the 26th or 27th… or maybe even the 28th. If you have a well-kept agenda or calendar, however, there is no need to try and remember, as you can just look it up and leave the guesswork out of it.
The best part is you don’t need a fancy, expensive agenda — it can be as simple as a wall calendar, a free agenda provided by your school, or a free online agenda/calendar app for your phone.
2. Learn to say no
Getting involved is great and it can have a lot of benefits like meeting new people, building skills, and adding to your résumé. As a student, you most likely get asked all the time to join another council, join an after-school club, or even work extra shifts at your part-time job. But you don’t always have to say yes.
Over commitment can be a leading cause of poor time management. You only have 24 hours in a day, so if you spend it all on commitments to things that are not important, you’ll find yourself tired, annoyed, and unable to commit to what really matters. Finding a balance between commitments is key to being effective in managing your time.
Make sure to give yourself some downtime to relax and reflect.
3. Do the most important things first
Tackling the most important thing in your day first can make getting the smaller things complete so much easier. Emails, messages, and the little things can be done at the end of the day.
If you leave your biggest goal for last, such as studying for an important history test, then you will feel overwhelmed, stressed out, and anxious. Plus, working on something important and time-consuming at the very end of the day can impact other things such as the time spent sleeping that night.
4. Allow time to relax
Make sure to give yourself some downtime to relax and reflect. Sometimes it's easy to lose sight of what you're doing and its significance. Having an over-worked, cluttered, and disorganized mind can make you more unproductive in the long run.
Take a breath, go for a quick run or spend some time just thinking so that you can come back to your activity or assignment with a clearer and more focused mindset.
5. Set out specific time for tasks
Setting a time to study or work on a hobby can be extremely effective for achieving better time management. Going with the flow and doing things when they are most appealing can be a bad habit to fall into. If you plan to study at 2 pm until 5:30, then study at 2 pm until 5:30.
This time constraint will help you focus and make you more productive. It also allows you to watch your favourite show at 10 pm instead of studying like you initially planned to. Once you’re done what you said you’d do, you can take time to do as you please.
More about time management for students
- Waterloo's Student Success Office offers time management tips for students that you can use now or when you arrive at Waterloo.
- You can also take an online time management workshop to get the most out of your time.