Time management skills that improve student learning
Updated: Oct 24, 2022
In today’s busy world, time management skills for students are increasingly important. While you might be yearning for a simpler era when time seemed to move more slowly, the realities of participation in contemporary western society requires young people to have skills in efficiency and productivity.
We do believe it’s important for them to set goals and learn to be effective time managers. In this article, we’ll discuss why time management matters, and list several techniques to help students learn to priorities and manage time effectively.
What is time management?
Like our energy and money, time is a finite resource and as such, it needs to be effectively managed. Time management is about planning and controlling the amount of time you spend on specific tasks.
Some of the important skills students need to manage time effectively include:
It’s almost impossible to use time well if you don’t know what to do with it. Students can benefit from having short- and long-term goals. For example, a short-term goal might include completing their homework early each day, so they have ample time to practice music. Their long-term goal could be to play in the school or church band, or the Australian Youth Orchestra!
By assessing what needs to be achieved within a given timeframe, tasks can be rated according to their importance. Setting priorities for each day, week, month and year can help students accomplish their goals. It also helps to ensure activities that are vitally important but not urgent — such as personal devotions, adequate sleep and exercise — are given precedence. Some people like to priorities easy tasks for early in the day and use the boost to move forward. Others prefer to tackle bigger jobs first.
Once priorities are set, it’s important to have a plan for getting them done. Some people are naturally well-organized, and others need some help. Strategies like maintaining an up-to-date calendar and keeping a tidy study environment help.
4. Managing stress
Nobody performs at their peak under excessive stress. Students need healthy ways to manage the pressures of study while maintaining productivity. Getting enough sleep and exercising are all great ways to keep stress at bay, and actually make learning more efficient.
Many more ways to enhance time management will be outlined later.
Why are time management skills important?
Effective time management allows students to complete more in less time, because their attention is focused and they’re not wasting time on distractions (such as social media, for example. Efficient use of time also reduces stress, as students tick off items from their to-do list. It can also provide a sense of achievement from fulfilling goals. For example, they might plan to complete an assignment by Friday so they can see friends on the weekend.
Furthermore, by using time efficiently, students can complete their work on time, stay engaged with their learning, and have more time free for pursuing activities that are important to them, such as sports, hobbies, youth group and spending time with friends and family.
Good time management allows students to make the most of their abilities and enjoy the satisfaction of accomplishment. It is also one of the most desirable skills for employment.
Tips on how to improve time management
Fortunately, there are many ways students can improve their time management.
Start with an agenda — either alone or with your help, have your child record the dates of all upcoming assignments and exams in an online or paper agenda (such as their school diary or an online calendar). Schedule in important activities and free time, too. You can even set deadlines a few days before actual due dates to allow a margin for emergencies.
Create a master schedule — from this agenda, block off chunks of time for study or assignment work. This will help your student to priorities their projects and stay on target with due dates. You could start by estimating how long each project will take, then calculate how much time to allow daily or weekly. Try to schedule in some study every week day, even if it’s only brief. Color-coding different subjects can make reading the schedule easier.
Start assignments early — leaving assignments until the last minute is stressful. Instead, encourage your child to start working on them well before they are due.
Make project plans — when study or assignments seem overwhelming, procrastination often results. Help your child to break their study plan or project into smaller, more manageable chunks. You can give each segment its own due date to help them feel good for meeting small goals.
Avoid multi-tasking — divided attention is an inefficient way to learn. Focus on one task at a time for maximum productivity.
Reduce distractions — during time scheduled for schoolwork, have your child put away unnecessary devices such as mobile phones, and switch off social media notifications. Distractions can also come from internal feelings such as hunger or tiredness, so ensure they’re getting adequate sleep and have snacks and water on hand.
Take regular breaks — working on something for too long can lead to lost focus. Short breaks every half hour or so can help them to recharge. Consider having a change of scene, such as a short walk or a drink in the backyard. Just make sure they don’t get side-tracked and don’t return to study!
Be an early bird — encourage your child to start their homework as early as possible after school. This gives them more time to complete it while they’re alert and reduces the risk of delayed bedtimes. Also, people vary as to when they’re most productive, so allow your student to tackle challenging tasks during their best time, and leave easier ones (such as organizing their books or lists for the next day) when they’re not at their peak. Some might prefer to get up early and work before the school day, for example.