Time Management

A Handout by Jane L. McGrath and Additional Materials


Close-up photo of two open books, one on top of the other
How to Plan and Save Time
How to Make Your Study Time Effective
Web Resources on Time Management
Web Sites on How to Set Up Study Schedules
Web Sites on Dealing with Procrastination
The Best Compilation of Time Management Resources on the Web
How to Create a Study Plan

As with managing money, to be successful you must budget time according to your priorities and spend it wisely. Here are some tips for effective time management.

Identify Your Goals and Priorities  

What do you want out of school and life? What must you do to get it? Is getting an education high on your priority list? your current job? your family? What is most important to you and how will you meet the demands of each?

Analyze How You’re Spending Your Time and Compare the Results with Your Priorities

Use a calendar to analyze exactly how you spend your time. Keep a detailed record of everything you do for one week.

When and how much time each week do you

  • spend in classes?                         
  • Photo of a man drinking coffee and the back of a woman who imay be talking to himstudying for classes?                    
  • working?
  • commuting?                                    
  • meeting the needs of others?
  • eating?         
  • exercising?
  • relaxing?
  • talking on the phone?  
  • sleeping?

Develop a Plan to Spend Quality Time on Your Priorities and Follow It 

      1. Use this record to evaluate your use of time in relation to your priorities. Consider not only how much time is spent but also whether it is quality time.
      2. To take control of your time, build a realistic schedule that fits your priorities and helps you reach your goals. If learning and getting good grades are high on your list, you will have to budget time for participating in class regularly, for preparing, studying and reviewing, plus additional time for papers, reports and special assignments.
      3. Most importantly, you must stick to your time schedule. Some flexibility is necessary for unexpected demands, but if you spend too much time on non-priority tasks you will not meet your goals.


How to Plan and Save Time



When life activities become overwhelming, it is important to step back and look at ways you can regain some control over what you have to do.

The following suggestions may help you handle your busy schedule.

  • Be realistic about what you take on. Taking too many classes when you work and have family responsibilities leads to frustration and disappointment. Do what you can, not what you think you should do.

  • Eliminate unimportant tasks. Some things will keep for later when the demands on your time are not as great.

  • Keep a “To Do” list and prioritize items. Do the most important things first!

  • Evaluate your habits. Could you save time by changing your routine actions?

  • Learn to say “No.” There is never time for everything we want to do, so learn to do those things that move you toward your goals and say “no” to those that do not.

  • Delegate or negotiate tasks and ask for help.

  • Consolidate. If you go to the library to prepare your biology report, also work on your research paper and look up that reference you need for literature.

  • Use your prime working times effectively. Are you a morning person or night owl? Find when you’re at your best and use those hours wisely.

  • Break down major tasks into small parts. Do them one at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

  • Be prepared to lower your standards. Based on your priorities, decide what you want to be “A” quality and what can be “B.” 

  • Be flexible but remain in control. Expect interruptions. If you are completing tasks in priority order, you and you’re schedule will easily survive.


How to Make Your Study Time Effective

Photo of a female student studying


To be an effective student, we must take a realistic look at our study habits. Here are some effective strategies to use as guidelines for achieving academic success.

  • Make a study schedule and stick to it. Plans don’t get things done; actions do!

  • Print online lectures and related materials. Keep all assignments in one place to avoid forgetting something and refer to them often to stay on track.

  • Know what studying entails. Read all assigned material; complete homework; review class notes, text assignments and supplementary material on a regular schedule.

  • Be self-motivated, self-disciplined, and proactive. If you do not understand something, you must ask for clarification. Don't waste time lost in confusion when academic support is easily available.

  • Schedule study times to fit your attention span. 45-minute sessions with a 10-minute break work well. Long study sessions are counterproductive: your eyeballs end up doing the work rather than your brain!

  • Decide what you want to accomplish in a study session. Work to meet your goals. 

  • Study difficult, complex material first. Leave easier tasks for last.

  • Vary subjects and types of study for maximum efficiency. To stay interested, alert, and to reinforce your learning, do text reading, review online lectures, write, draw diagrams or charts, recite, make discussion board posts, read posts from others, problem solve, review study cards, prepare for quizzes/tests.

  • Think about what you are reading. Relate this information to what you know and how you can use the information in your studies and life.

  • Schedule periodic review sessions. To remember material over a long period of time, you must review the information often. Before each study session, review what you studied previously and check for understanding, then add new information.

  • Use all of your available time. Even small bits of time, like waiting for the dentist, can be put to use—don’t be caught without something to read or study!


Web Resources on Time Management

man typing on laptop

The following sites give you realistic time management strategies you can directly apply to the course you are taking.

How efficiently do I manage my time?

Take the following self assessments from Ohio University to find out how effective you are at managing your time.

    1. Start here: Time Management Pretest

    2. After you get your results, click on 168-Hour Exercise.

    3. When you have the information from this pretest, click on Time Wasters (here or in the bottom right corner of the site).

    4. Upon completion of this pretest, click on Ways to Plan Time (here or in the bottom right corner of the site).
      Note: You can easily change setting up a quarter schedule to one that covers a semester as the information is the same.

    Once you have the results of these four assessments, you are well prepared to create and apply time management strategies to make better use of the time you have available for studying.

Here are two more surveys to help you evaluate your progress toward improving time management skills (Muskingum College)

Time Management Self-Evaluation and Spacing Reviews


Time Management: What Does It Entail?

Time Management This site presents an overview of most aspects of managing your time. (Pennsylvania State University)

Am I Keeping Up? Think about how you are doing as a student. Refer to this checklist often throughout the semester. (Ohio University)

The Keys to Getting Back on Track When You Are Behind You don't have to give up. You do have to do something when you are not up to date with your assignments. These suggestions will help. (University of St. Thomas)

Managing Your Time This site has excellent time management information and resources you can download and print. It's clear and to the point. There's even a video you can watch! (Dartmouth College)

Time Management Background, purposes, and advantages of time management strategies (Muskingum College)

Time Management This is a comprehensive site that includes information related to the following: Effective Time Management; Monthly Planning Calendar; Scheduling Your Time; Setting Smart Goals; Things I Have to do This Week; Weekly Schedule. pdf files (University of Texas at Austin)

Remembering Appointments and How to Be on Time Advice we all can use! (Muskingum College)


Web Sites on How to Set Up Study Schedules

Photo of an open time planner with a pen lying across the  page

Introduction to Time Management Planners Make your planner fit you! (Muskingum College)

Blank Study Schedule for you to print out. (Columbia College of Missouri)

Weekly Schedule This chart is excellent for following your assignments and meeting deadlines. (University of St. Thomas)

Color Coding and Homework Organizers Use color for information organization and evaluation of your use of time. (Muskingum College)

Evaluating Your Schedule Will it work? (Bucks County Community College)

Time Scheduling Specific steps to find your way to effective planning of your time. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)


Web Sites on Dealing with Procrastination

Procrastination: Ten Ways To Do It Now Habits, causes, remedies (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Procrastination Find out how procrastination affects your success (Muskingum College)

Overcoming Procrastination Procrastination is a habit, not a fatal flaw. It takes persistence to change, but you can do it. pdf file (University of Texas at Austin)

Design Your Own Anti-Procrastination Plan Here are several lists of specific, concrete things you can do to confront and change your own tendencies to procrastinate. pdf file (University of Texas at Austin)


The Best Compilation of Time Management Resources on the Web

Photo of a hand holding an iPhone


"Mastering the art of time management an reduce your stress level exponentially. While this may seem easier said than done, there are numerous articles, tips, tools, and applications available on and off the Web that will help you learn to schedule, prioritize, and accomplish tasks in a timely manner. We've scoured the Internet and found what we think are the best comprehensive resources on time management available. From iPhone apps to calendars, by checking out our list you will be well on your way to achieving successful time management." (Guide to Online Schools)

    1. Management Tips and Articles
    2. Time Saving Tools
    3. Time Saving iPhone Applications

The Best Compilation of Time Management Resources on the Web


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