Managing time in an organized and balanced way leads to both greater productivity and a sense of ease.
Strong time management skills allow you to
- Prioritize time to complete necessary tasks for school, work, and personal responsibilities
- Capitalize on limited or available time
- Manage productivity and workflow, thereby reducing stress and anxiety
- Prioritize tasks efficiently within limited allotted time constraints
- Initiate tasks and get started with work in an orderly and efficient manner
Questions for Reflection about Time Management
- Are you generally a person who frequently is late to events or turns in assignments after they are due?
- Do you use a calendar or a planner to help you manage your time and assignments?
- Do you find that you underestimate the amount of time necessary for an assignment?
- Do you find that you can only complete an assignment immediately before it is due?
Questions for Reflection about Procrastination
- For how long do you typically procrastinate on an assignment or project?
- What do you do while you’re procrastinating?
- When you recognize that you’re procrastinating, are you able to quickly get back on track?
- What steps do you take to get back on track?
- On a scale from 1-10 (10 being extremely controlled), rate your degree of control over procrastination.
Basic Strategies to Try
Create a List
- What are some things that prevent you from making the most of your free time? Define distractions that impede your focus, initiation of work, and prevent you from getting things accomplished in school, work, and your personal life.
- Now that you have created the above list, brainstorm ideas and write down what you could try to reduce these distractions. How could you avoid these patterns?
Plan Your Time
- Choose one day (typically Sunday or Monday) to plan your week in detail, making sure to write down everything in a planner, calendar, or app: all your school assignments, work responsibilities, personal to-do’s.
- Color code your courses in a way that allows you to visually organize this information, and make sure that if you use a Google or Outlook calendar, it syncs to your phone for alerts.
- Estimate how long each task will take, and mark the time that you start on the calendar.
- If you often underestimate the time that a task takes to complete, use this time management reflection sheet to help you develop a better understanding of your own task completion.
- Every morning as soon as you wake, look at your calendar or planner and set goals for the day. Spend no more than 30 minutes reviewing/sending emails.
When you take the time to create a schedule for yourself, you will hold yourself more accountable. As mentioned above, having an accountability partner is incredibly helpful. Here are some templates to help you manage your time:
Break down long-term assignments, papers and projects
The Stanford Learning Lab has designed an assignment calculator that breaks down projects into manageable steps based on your due dates.
Review your time management habits often
Once you have created a time management schedule, you may need to adjust it when you better understand how long specific tasks take to complete. Keep a log of these adjustments so that you can better anticipate your work flow patterns. You may wish to use the time management reflection sheet linked above. Take the time to review your schedule often.
- Build time into your schedule for exercise, socializing, self-care, and hobbies.
- Make sure that you are getting enough sleep!
- Don’t forget to write that into your calendar too!
Additional Stanford Resources
- For more advanced strategies, check this page of the Learning Lab's Learning Library
- Stanford Academic Advising
- Academic Skills Resources | Student Learning Programs
- PEN (Peer Engagement Network)
- Hume Center for Writing and Speaking
- Stanford Libraries
- Student Learning & Technology @ Lathrop and Online
- Student Learning Programs
- Learning Lab Student Groups
Resources Outside of Stanford
- Engross - Stay focused. Pomodoro Timer & To-Do list
- KanbanFlow - Lean project management. Simplified.
- Panda Planner Classic | 3 Month Goal and Gratitude Journal | Hardcover
- Night owl or early bird? Take this quiz to discover how your chronotype affects your job - Work Life by Atlassian
- FreakyAlarm - the iPhone alarm clock that wakes your brain and forces you to get out of bed!