Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (2023)

Posted: August 29, 2019February 20, 2020 By: Jory MacKay Category: Time Management Discussion 5 Comments on Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to maximize your time and build your focus

Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (1)

I can still remember the dread that would slowly set in after the first few weeks of a new school year. After the shiny excitement of new classes and new friends wore off, I was left with just one lingering thought: How am I actually going to do all this?

Unfortunately, a quick search for “time management tips for students” doesn’t bring up much of value. Use a schedule. Prioritize. Get enough sleep. These high-level tips only go so far. To really optimize your time and get ahead on school projects, you need to be more tactical.

Time management for students (and everyone else) is about being purposeful with your day. It’s about taking control of what time you do have and optimizing it for productivity, focus, and above all, balance.

To help you out, we’ve collected the best advice on how to stay focused, beat procrastination, and manage your time from student RescueTime users in both undergraduate and graduate programs.

How to master time management for students:

  1. Use a daily schedule template to plan your day
  2. Understand how you’re currently spending your time (and where you’re losing it)
  3. Set proper goals to measure your progress
  4. Break large projects into small, actionable tasks
  5. Beware the Planning Fallacy (i.e. you probably need more time than you think)
  6. Follow your body’s natural energy highs and lows
  7. Take breaks at the right time
  8. Beat procrastination with the 5-minute rule
  9. Optimize your study time for Flow
  10. Build better habits and routines for long-term success
Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (2)

1. Use a daily schedule template to plan your day

Classes, seminars, and workshops might take up the majority of your day, but how you schedule your own time can make all the difference.

While much of the advice about time management for students centers around creating a to-do list, it’s more important to master your schedule.

A to-do list only tells you what you’d like to do. A schedule tells you when you’re going to do it.@RescueTime Click To Tweet

Having a daily schedule template in place puts you in control. It will help you stay organized, focused on what matters most, and even help you overcome procrastination.

The method of choice for many of the world’s most successful people—from Bill Gates to Elon Musk—is called time blocking. Simply put, time blocking is when you create a template for how you want to spend every minute of your day.

This might sound overwhelming. However, it’s more of a skeleton rather than a strict set of rules. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Step 1: Create “bookends” for each day

To maximize your time, you need to be purposeful with how you start and end each day. Think about your morning and evening routines and then “block” in time for your most important tasks. For example, academic Kevin Taylor has a recurring 2-hour writing block each morning:

Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (3)

Step 2: Set aside time for your most important projects

Next, you’ll want to set aside time for your most important projects. This might mean research or writing or something completely different. The key here is that you’re purposeful about what you’re doing and when it’s going to happen.

If you need help staying focused during this time you can now use RescueTime for Google Calendar to automatically trigger FocusTime sessions.

Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (4)

Simply use #focustime in the Google Calendar event name or description and we’ll automatically block all distracting websites (like social media, YouTube, news, and entertainment) for the duration of that event.

(Video) How to Get Your Brain to Focus | Chris Bailey | TEDxManchester

Step 3: Schedule in breaks, social time, and catch-up tasks

Lastly, for a schedule to work, it has to be realistic. This means including time for breaks, food, exercise, social time, calling family and friends, and all the other “non-school” tasks that keep you happy and motivated.

RescueTime gives you the tools you need to take back control of your time and rebuild your focus. Try it for free for 14 days.

2. Understand how you’re currently spending your time (and where you’re losing it)

Your schedule will give you an ideal version of your day, but in order to build better time management habits, you need to know how you’re actually spending your time.

Without a clear understanding of where your time goes each day, it’s impossible to build better time management strategies and stay focused.

When it comes to tracking your time, you have two options:

  1. Spend a day or two writing a “time log”—manually tracking how you spend each moment of your day
  2. Use a free tool like RescueTime to automatically log your time

The same way a dieter needs to track their food intake to see where they’re sabotaging themselves, you need to know where you’re losing time to the wrong things.

For example, after installing RescueTime, you’ll get a clear breakdown of what apps, websites, and tools you use each day organized by category and productivity score.

Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (5)

As Ph.D. Student, Jonathan K. told us:

“RescueTime has made me 100% more aware of my productivity. It’s the best tool I’ve found for recording how you’re spending your time, digging into the details, and building better habits.”

3. Set proper goals to measure your progress

Goals are a great way to get motivated to do school work. Unfortunately, the way most of us set goals is completely wrong. The problem is that goals are just the end result. They don’t tell you anything about how you’re going to achieve them.

Rather than starting at the goal and working backward, focus on what needs to get done to hit and surpass that goal.In other words:

What can you do every day that will help you achieve your ultimate goal?

This means focusing on consistent progress and building better habits.

For example, let’s say you need to write a 4,000-word essay by the end of the month. Rather than being overwhelmed by the end goal, set a daily goal of writing just 500 words. If you can keep this up, you’ll hit your goal in just over a week (giving you plenty of time to edit and rework it).

Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (6)

Even better, every day you see progress will help motivate you to do more. When Harvard’s Teresa Amabile looked into all the things that can boost our mood and motivation, “the single most important is making progress on meaningful work.”

4. Break large projects into small, actionable tasks

Part of proper goal-setting is being able to break large goals down into daily tasks. Not only does this keep you focused, but it can even help you stop procrastinating.

It’s easy to procrastinate when a project feels like such a huge task. However, taking that first step is usually all you need to build momentum. As time management expert Laura Vanderkam told us:

“The best thing you can do is to start very small. Decide what the smallest, most doable next step is on a big project and then list out all the next steps along with a deadline for each.”

(Video) Time Management - 10 Productivity Tips and Tricks That Work

For example, if you need to write an in-depth essay, you might break that project down into a few steps:

  1. Go to the library and find books on the topic
  2. Skim their table of contents
  3. Write out your paragraph headings
  4. Do an abstract of the first paragraph
  5. And so on…

Each of these steps is doable and can be scheduled into your daily schedule rather than feeling overwhelmed by the end goal.

Here’s another example using RescueTime. Rather than set a massive goal of writing your thesis, you can set daily goals to spend 3 hours writing. This way, you’re focusing on making progress, not just the end result.

5. Beware the Planning Fallacy (i.e. you probably need more time than you think)

When you start to schedule your tasks throughout your day, it’s easy to be overly optimistic about how much you can get done. Psychologists even have a name for this: The Planning Fallacy.

This is harmful to your time management for a number of reasons:

  1. You’re more likely to get stressed when tasks take longer than you anticipated
  2. Your schedule gets pushed back to compensate for the extra time you spend
  3. You might take on too much work thinking you have more time than you do

To counteract the Planning Fallacy, work a buffer into your schedule based on your familiarity with the task. If it’s something you’ve done before, give yourself 1-1.5X the time you think it will take. If it’s something new, give yourself double the time or more.

6. Follow your body’s natural energy highs and lows

We all have moments in the day where we’re more alert and energetic. And if you want to maximize the time you do have each day, you can’t fight against your body’s natural state.

Researchers call this our Circadian Rhythm—a 24-hour internal clock running in the background of your brain that cycles between alertness and sleepiness.

Every person’s rhythm is slightly different, but the majority follow a similar pattern.

So what does this mean for time management for students?

Simply put, you should do your most important work when you have the most energy. This means scheduling writing or more intense projects during energy highs, and scheduling reading or more passive activities when you’re more naturally low.

7. Take breaks at the right time

One of the best ways to maintain your productivity over time is to take more breaks.But when is the right time to take a break?

According to sleep researcher Nathaniel Kleitman, our minds naturally crave breaks after every 90 minutes of intense work. Even if you don’t keep a timer going, your body will tell you when you need a break by becoming hungry, sleepy, fidgeting, or losing focus.

When you start to feel this way, it’s time to take a break. There are a few things you can do to make the most of your downtime:

  • Disconnect from whatever you were just working on. Step away from your desk or work environment and try to shift your brain away from your task at hand.
  • Get outdoors if you can. Fresh air and natural light are energy and productivity boosters.
  • Give your eyes a break. Counteract screen or reading time by using a simple exercise called 20-20-20. Every 20 minutes or so, stare at something at least 20 feet away from you for at least 20 seconds.
  • Refuel with the right food. Foods that are high in protein will give you a much longer boost of energy than caffeine or carbs.

8. Beat procrastination with the 5-minute rule

Procrastination is pretty much inevitable. But you don’t have to let it take over your day. Instead, all it usually takes is a bit of determination to get into the flow of a task. As Ph. D student, Jonathan K. told us:

“I know if I can start working on a task and get invested in it then it’s easy for me to spend 3 or 4 productive hours on it.”

To get over that initial hump of feeling unmotivated, try a couple of these strategies:

  • Follow the 5-minute rule. Popularized by Instagram founder Kevin Systrom, this “rule” means telling yourself you’re only going to do 5-minutes of work on a project. In most cases, that’s enough to get you motivated.
  • Block distractions when you first start working. Procrastination is easier when you have social media and entertainment at your fingertips. With a tool like RescueTime, you can block distracting websites when you first start working or at specific times of the day so you’re not tempted to procrastinate.
Time management for students: 10 strategies and tips to build your focus (8)

9. Optimize your study time for Flow (i.e. only do one thing at a time)

It’s tempting to think you can multitask when your schedule is crammed. But the more you try to do at once, the longer everything takes. Instead, studies have found that deeply focusing on a single task at a time can be up to 500% more productive.

(Video) How Snyk built a product-led growth juggernaut | Ben Williams (VP of Product at Snyk)

However, “single-tasking” like this isn’t easy. If you have a hard time focusing on just one thing, try these steps:

  1. Remove distractions (including your phone)
  2. Start small and set a timer (even 5-minutes of distraction-free work time is beneficial)
  3. Take a break in between each session

10. Build better habits and routines for long-term success

We are what we repeatedly do. The best time management strategy for students and everyone else is simply to develop habits and routines that promote the kind of actions you want to do more of.

For example, following a morning routine that focuses on getting an early win and setting yourself up for a productive day. Or, make sure your evening routine sets you up for a successful next day by setting your schedule and goals the night before.

Or, as Ph. D student Gary W explains, keeping on top of how you’re spending your time:

“I didn’t realize how much time I was throwing down the drain just from small things like watching videos on YouTube. RescueTime gives me accuracy when it comes to knowing how I spend my time. I get a much more detailed picture of what I’m doing so I can make the changes I need to my schedule and habits.”

Bonus: Mobile apps that will help you stay focused. It’s not always easy to stay motivated and focused when you’re studying. If you’re looking for a bit of an edge, the team at Brainly put together a list of 7 powerful apps you can use to help.

Thousands of students use RescueTime to help take control of their time

Time management for students is especially hard. With the pressure of school, projects, homework, and your social life, it’s easy to let the day get away from you. But if you follow this advice, you’ll end up with a system for making sure every day is the best it can possibly be.

To support you along the way, try RescueTime Premium for free for 14 days. If you find it valuable, get in touch with our support team to take advantage of our 30% educational discount.

Jory MacKay

Jory MacKay is a writer, content marketer, and editor of the RescueTime blog.

  1. That is a really great advice. Moreover, I even tried some of them and It worked out with fighting my procrastinations. Cause I am a university student right now and I used to deal with my procrastinations every day and It was so hard. But thanks for these strategies.

    Reply

  2. Very Effective Tips. Thanks for sharing

    (Video) 10 Strategies To Boost focus and Productivity #productivity_tricks #boostconcentration

    Reply

  3. Really a great article and helpful ! Nowadays time management is very tough to do any work. I am a student in pu colleges and I am not able to set my time for my studies bit these strategies helps me to maximize my time.

    Reply

  4. Really a great article for the students of pu colleges and set their times for study and balance it .

    Reply

  5. Thanks, It really helps with putting everything in it’s correct sequence and being able to follow through with a guide

    Reply

Leave a comment

Related Posts
  • Don’t be afraid to change your approach
  • Get obsessed with your daily routine
  • A Day In The Life with RescueTime

Read More From Time Management

FAQs

How do student manage their time 10 tips? ›

Time Management Tips for Students
  1. Set Goals. ...
  2. Make Note of Deadlines. ...
  3. Start with Small Tasks / Break Up Large Tasks. ...
  4. Create a schedule. ...
  5. Use Checklists. ...
  6. Use Breaks Wisely. ...
  7. Leverage Technology. ...
  8. Ask for Help.

What is time management and how can you manage your time Class 10? ›

“Time management” is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. Good time management enables you to work smarter, not harder – so that you get more done in less time, even when time is tight and pressures are high.

How can I improve my time management and focus? ›

How to improve time management skills
  1. Start your tasks early. ...
  2. Set limits for what you'll say yes to. ...
  3. Give yourself breaks. ...
  4. Prioritize your tasks. ...
  5. Schedule your tasks and their deadlines. ...
  6. Organize your workspace. ...
  7. Learn your patterns of productivity. ...
  8. Use technology to help keep you accountable.

How do you manage your time as a student 10 tips to stop procrastinating and get things done? ›

Here are some tips to avoid procrastination.
  1. Get Organized. You are more likely to procrastinate if you don't have a set plan or idea for completing your work. ...
  2. Eliminate Distractions. ...
  3. Prioritize. ...
  4. Set Goals. ...
  5. Set Deadlines. ...
  6. Take a Break. ...
  7. Reward Yourself. ...
  8. Hold Yourself Accountable.

How can a student manage time and stress for better results in school? ›

Try to schedule in some study every week day, even if it's only brief. Colour-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.

What are 5 time management strategies? ›

5 Tips to Better Your Time Management
  • Set reminders for all your tasks.
  • Create a daily planner.
  • Give each task a time limit.
  • Block out distractions.
  • Establish routine.

What is the importance of time in students life? ›

Students should understand that time is invaluable. Time is more valuable than money. Lost money can be earned back but lost time cannot be and nothing can stop the flow of time in our lives. Time is precious and it is required that everyone should use it wisely.

What is the importance of time management in students life? ›

It helps you achieve your goals faster

Proper time management makes you more effective. Instead of getting caught up in multitasking, you focus on one activity at a time for a specified duration. This way, you give it your best, which results in you achieving your goals faster.

How do you manage your time as a student essay? ›

You can manage your time efficiently with the help of following tips:
  1. Prepare a list of tasks to be accomplished during the day.
  2. Prioritise your tasks and also set time to complete each of them.
  3. Stick to your schedule diligently.
  4. Take breaks in between the tasks.
  5. Do not forget to take 7-8 hours of sleep each day.

How can I focus my time? ›

Focus Time Technique Steps
  1. Define your daily tasks.
  2. Split tasks into steps.
  3. Assign each step to one Focus Time working session.
  4. Set the timer to 30 minutes.
  5. Work on the task until you hear the ring.
  6. Take a 5-minute break.
  7. First Focus Time session: check!
  8. Take a longer break every four or five Focus Time sessions.

What is good time management? ›

Key Points. Time management means organizing your time intelligently – so that you use it more effectively. The benefits of good time management include greater productivity, less stress, and more opportunities to do the things that matter.

What are the examples of time management? ›

Time management examples
  • Planning.
  • To-do lists and checklists.
  • Prioritizing.
  • Evaluating urgent tasks.
  • Goal setting.
  • Auditing and improving workflows.
  • Filtering notifications.
  • Setting thoughtful deadlines.
10 Jan 2021

How can students make the best use of their time when studying at home? ›

You can stretch, do a set of jumping jacks, walk around the room, and take a look at the view outside the window. Build in some social time during your day can motivate you to stay focused when studying. You can set a time when you are less productive to reach out to friends and family.

What are 6 time management strategies? ›

6 time management tips
  • Conduct a time audit. Start by assessing where you actually spend your time. ...
  • Use the Eisenhower Matrix to set your priorities. ...
  • Employ methods to “chunk” your time. ...
  • Focus on one thing at a time. ...
  • Give yourself a reward. ...
  • Use apps to block out distractions.

What are the 3 important factors of time management? ›

Time Is Life: 5 Key Factors of Time Management
  • Your Time Is Your Life. It is essential that you become aware at every instance: How you spend your time is how you spend your life. ...
  • Poor Time Management is a Major Source of Stress. ...
  • Importance Versus Urgency. ...
  • Time Savers and Time Wasters. ...
  • Work-Life Balance.
18 Dec 2016

What are the 5 reasons that time management is important? ›

How could time management be crucial to your business?
  • It can help in sticking to deadlines. ...
  • Time management can often improve focus and overall efficiency. ...
  • Better time management can lead to less procrastination. ...
  • A good schedule can lead to less stress and more freedom. ...
  • Time management is easier now than ever before.
19 May 2022

Why is focus important to study? ›

Focus is so important because it is the gateway to all thinking: perception, memory, learning, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Without good focus , all aspects of your ability to think will suffer... Here's a simple reality: "If you can't focus effectively, you can't think effectively."

How does time management affect student success? ›

Effective time management is associated with greater academic performance and lower levels of anxiety in students; however many students find it hard to find a balance between their studies and their day-to-day lives.

What are the benefits of time management essay? ›

12 benefits of time management
  • Decreased stress. Learning to manage your time can reduce your stress levels. ...
  • Increased productivity. ...
  • More energy for free time. ...
  • Clear daily goals. ...
  • Improved focus. ...
  • Reaching goals faster. ...
  • More confidence. ...
  • Better workplace relationships.

How can I focus and achieve my goal? ›

Here are strategies you can use to stay focused on your current goal:
  1. Understand what motivates you. ...
  2. Write down your goals. ...
  3. Set milestones for your goals. ...
  4. Create and follow a plan. ...
  5. Practice time management. ...
  6. Bring tasks to completion. ...
  7. Consider your work environment. ...
  8. Measure your goals.

What are positive time management skills? ›

Here is a list of the most important time management skills:
  • Prioritizing.
  • Delegation.
  • Decision-making.
  • Goal setting.
  • Multitasking.
  • Problem solving.
  • Strategic thinking.
  • Scheduling.
3 Aug 2022

What are three benefits of having good time management? ›

Here are the 10 key benefits of proper time management:
  • Deliver Work on Time. ...
  • Increased Productivity. ...
  • Less Stress. ...
  • Better Work-Life Balance. ...
  • Greater Opportunity for Growth. ...
  • Improved Focus. ...
  • Take Better Decisions. ...
  • Helps Boost Confidence.
18 Feb 2022

› hub › importance-of-time-... ›

Small businesses and freelancers need to maximize the time they have available to grow their business and proper time management skills can help do that. Time m...
Try these 10 simple time management tips for work to make sure you manage your time instead of letting it manage you. We even have templates for common time man...
Wondering how to manage time better? These time management tips are quick to learn and super effective when it comes to increasing your productivity.

How do Grade 12 students manage their time? ›

5 Time Management Tips For High School Students
  1. 1) Create a daily to-do list. Every day deserves its own list and on here, you can itemise what needs to be done and in what order. ...
  2. 2) Be smart with those spare minutes. ...
  3. 3) Don't skip a good night's sleep. ...
  4. 4) Stop wasting time by worrying. ...
  5. 5) Ask for help when you need it.
21 Feb 2020

What are 6 tips to good time management? ›

6 Tips to Improve Your Time Management Skills
  • Make a list. The thing about making lists is that you actually have to use them. ...
  • Set deadlines. ...
  • Stop multi-tasking. ...
  • Delegate responsibilities. ...
  • Use your downtime. ...
  • Reward yourself.
6 days ago

What is good time management? ›

Key Points. Time management means organizing your time intelligently – so that you use it more effectively. The benefits of good time management include greater productivity, less stress, and more opportunities to do the things that matter.

What is the importance of time management for students? ›

Managing time effectively enables students to become more confident, organized, and learn more efficiently. Effective time management skills are particularly essential for high school students, as they have to deal with more subjects, tests, assignments, and extracurriculars.

Which is the best strategy to manage time? ›

By incorporating some, or all the ten strategies below, you can more effectively manage your time.
  1. Know How You Spend Your Time. ...
  2. Set Priorities. ...
  3. Use a Planning Tool. ...
  4. Get Organized. ...
  5. Schedule Appropriately. ...
  6. Delegate: Get Help from Others. ...
  7. Stop Procrastinating. ...
  8. Manage Time-Wasters.

What are the examples of time management? ›

Time management examples
  • Planning.
  • To-do lists and checklists.
  • Prioritizing.
  • Evaluating urgent tasks.
  • Goal setting.
  • Auditing and improving workflows.
  • Filtering notifications.
  • Setting thoughtful deadlines.
10 Jan 2021

How do you manage your time as a student essay? ›

You can manage your time efficiently with the help of following tips:
  1. Prepare a list of tasks to be accomplished during the day.
  2. Prioritise your tasks and also set time to complete each of them.
  3. Stick to your schedule diligently.
  4. Take breaks in between the tasks.
  5. Do not forget to take 7-8 hours of sleep each day.

What are good habits for students? ›

10 Habits of Successful Students
  • Get Organized. Making a plan for what you're going to do and when you're going to do it will make sure you're always ahead of the curve - literally.
  • Don't multitask. ...
  • Divide it up. ...
  • Sleep. ...
  • Set a schedule. ...
  • Take notes. ...
  • Study. ...
  • Manage your study space.

› Latest ›

Effective time management is about having the right balance between your homework, and university life. Organizing your days will take off the stress and make s...

Videos

1. Part 1 | Last 10 Days Important Topics & Strategy To Crack INI CET Nov 2022 | Cerebellum Academy
(Cerebellum Academy)
2. How to Master The Art of Time Management | Brian Tracy
(Motivational Stories)
3. How to gain control of your free time | Laura Vanderkam
(TED)
4. 1 Simple Strategy To Dial In Your Focus | Robin Sharma
(Robin Sharma)
5. How to Design Your Life (My Process For Achieving Goals)
(ModernHealthMonk)
6. Time Management | Top 10 Tips For Freelancers ⏳
(NK Courses)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Ouida Strosin DO

Last Updated: 02/06/2023

Views: 5300

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (76 voted)

Reviews: 91% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Ouida Strosin DO

Birthday: 1995-04-27

Address: Suite 927 930 Kilback Radial, Candidaville, TN 87795

Phone: +8561498978366

Job: Legacy Manufacturing Specialist

Hobby: Singing, Mountain biking, Water sports, Water sports, Taxidermy, Polo, Pet

Introduction: My name is Ouida Strosin DO, I am a precious, combative, spotless, modern, spotless, beautiful, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.