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Time Management

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In this time management section, you’ll access time management templates, uncover the "planning fallacy," convert distractors into motivators, and more.

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Tips from Our Learning Specialists

  • Build a single system/calendar to contain all of your commitments (can be digital/paper/whiteboard).
  • Break down projects and assignments into pieces, and spread out the pieces over a number of days.
  • Get into a habit of identifying an achievable list of tasks for each day.
  • Create a space conducive to flow (pinpoint the conditions you need to focus and create or go to this environment).
  • Make peace with the reality that some days will be very productive and some will not. 
  • Consolidate your syllabi. At the beginning of each quarter, consolidate all of your coursework due dates into one calendar so that you can view them on the same timeline. 
  • Commit to a daily routine. Whether it is waking up, going to sleep, or eating meals at the same time everyday, committing to a daily routine will help make each day predictable which is optimal for understanding when your productive times will occur.
  • Say no to avoid overbooking your schedule. 
  • Block off reward time and free time on your calendar, not just to-dos, in order to stay refreshed and motivated. 
  • Identify distractions and use them as rewards when you’re done.


Time Management Grids

Sites and Apps


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Additional Resources at Stanford

  • Sign up for a drop-in session with us! With a Learning Lab Learning Specialist, you can talk about these strategies in more depth, personalize the approaches to suit your needs, and be supported as you practice.
  • Academic Skills Coaching


  • Kruger, J., & Evans, M. (2004). If you don’t want to be late, enumerate: Unpacking reduces the planning fallacy. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 40(5), 586-598. Read the article here. 
    • We should break down large assignments into their subcomponents. Research shows that people provide better estimates of how long large tasks take when they break them down into smaller tasks. The “planning fallacy” can be avoided and time management improved when we include these “smaller” assignments into our calendars.
  • Jackson, V. (2009). Time management: a realistic approach. Journal of the American College of Radiology, Volume 6, Issue 6, 434 - 436. Read the article here.  
    • Procrastination and perfectionism are the two major impediments to time management. There are 5 keys to successful time management. 1) set realistic goals that are achievable within the allotted time that you have 2) organize both your time and your stuff to achieve an easy system to follow 3) Consider delegating tasks when possible and use the team and resources around you 4) Prioritize relaxation and value work-life balance 5) Stop feeling guilty when you don’t accomplish a task because this guilt is often unreasonable, unjustified, and adds stress to your life.
  • Adams, R., & Blair, E. (2019). Impact of time management behaviors on undergraduate engineering students’ performance. SAGE Open. Read the article here. 
    • A Time Management Behavior Scale is used by undergraduate engineering students to self-report how they balance their commitments. The study shows that the aspect of time management correlated with grade point average is perceived control of time, indicating that students’ relationship and agency when it comes to time management is paramount. Procrastination or lack of time management practices are a couple of factors that could inhibit success; however, there are many factors at play. Fortunately, time management skills can be built and strengthened through practice. Academic staff note the importance of time management by stating they believe it is the most important nonacademic factor for students.