Time is a precious commodity for teachers and students alike. Mastering time management is a crucial skill for any learner, regardless of age. For many people – especially students who already have jam-packed schedules – this can be a difficult aspect of education to control. But there’s good news. Time management is a skill. There’s no reason that it can’t be honed and developed. With preparation, support, and perseverance, any student can gain control over their schedule. Simplifying the process is highly effective, yet surprisingly straightforward.
Now, it’s important to realize that simplification is not synonymous with laziness. After all, efficiency is another form of intelligence. If you’re able to take a shorter route to the same objective, why waste time? With so many spinning plates, students should be making the most of their time. Otherwise, plates will begin to fall. The last thing a student wants to do is pick up the shattered shards. They want to be mastering their subject or preparing for their next challenge, quickly and comprehensively. So, what are some of the best tips for a student to approach time management?
Top 5 Tips for Time Management
The good news is: this is a tried and tested process. Millions of experienced students and instructors across the world have a vast array of experiences that they’re eager to impart. Let’s explore some of the most efficient tips.
1. Start with the easiest tasks first
Some people may encourage students to ‘eat the frog’ first. Thankfully, this doesn’t involve the eating of any actual frogs. Instead, it implies that the best course of action for someone with a looming amount of tasks is to start with the most difficult. Find the most challenging task (the frog) and complete (eat) it as quickly as possible. While this method has some merit, for many students, the prospect of beginning their hike on the steepest part of the mountain is overwhelming.
If you’re overwhelmed before you even begin, the insidious beast that’s called ‘procrastination’ threatens to introduce itself. Instead, it’s recommended to get the smaller, less daunting tasks over and done with first. This will build the momentum that will carry you through to the harder tasks. Start small and work up. Then, when those more complex tasks appear, break them up into manageable chunks.
2. Break down goals into concrete steps
It’s all well and good to manage your time, but it’s even more important to know how you’re using that time. Sometimes, with so many jobs floating around, it can be hard for a student to wrap their head around what takes priority. Without clearly and concisely determining what steps need to be tackled first, it can be easy to waste time on menial tasks. Set concrete goals to maximise efficiency. For example, it could be useful to put some time aside and decide what takes up the hours of your day.
Does screen time, such as browsing mindlessly on a phone or computer, take up too much time? If so, set realistic goals. Don’t cut these things out completely, or there’s more of a chance to lapse. Simply cut 5 hours down to 2 hours, then organize when this will happen. Will it be sprinkled throughout the day, or be assigned to the morning or evening? That way, it’s easier to incorporate specific study periods, then use activities such as screen time as incentives.
3. Don’t shy away from rewards!
No hard-working student deserves to put in the effort without any reward. Burnout is a real thing, for children and adults alike. If too much energy is put into studying with no occasional pick-me-up, it may be hard for the student to keep their motivation levels up. Make time for rewards. Perhaps even create a rewards chart; monitoring effort levels as a physical representation that can be referred to throughout the process. This way, there is a solid reminder of the hard work that’s being put in!
Allow time for hobbies or activities in between work periods. Better yet, create a system that allows students to work towards it. There will be a sense of gratification upon realizing that they earned their reward, incentivizing them to continue along the same path. Don’t make these rewards too regularly or too scarce – they should be a treat! Tap into that all-important motivation to get the best learning outcomes.
4. Take advantage of checklists and technology
Once everything is out of the head and onto paper, things become a lot clearer. Creating a checklist means that goals can be ticked off and recorded throughout the week. At the start of the week, create or update the checklist. At the end of the week, look back and tick off the tasks that have been completed. This will conjure a clear picture of what has been done, and what needs to be tackled in the upcoming weeks. When it’s all there in front of you, it’s hard to overlook pressing responsibilities.
Even better, make the most out of technology to help with this. In this digital age, there are more and more innovative methods emerging that are purely designed to help with efficiency. Have a look at the available apps that will help keep time management on track. Here are some examples of great applications that can assist with this. Keeping most resources digital means that everything will not feel as scattered, as it will be localized in one place. Electronic organization is the way of the future!
5. Be realistic, supportive, and allow breaks
If you’re looking to help a student, whether you’re a parent or educator, let them know that you’re there as a helping hand. Be supportive and encouraging without placing too much pressure on them. Set realistic goals. For example, don’t be overly optimistic about what you believe can be completed in a day. This is known as the ‘Planning Fallacy’. Essentially, if the peaks are too high to reach, the student will feel discouraged upon failing to reach them.
Prepare for the possibility of the schedule being interrupted. If there’s a new area of the subject that needs to be explored, allow more time for it. Breaks should be built in at regular intervals, with some of these breaks containing the rewards that we previously explored. Knowing that there’s a support system there to help guide students to successful learning outcomes will make a world of difference.