5 Time Management Tips for Students

You need to learn some time management tips for students if your situation in any way sounds like this friend of mine

My main method for getting assignments or last minute study done is to pull an all nighter. I just have so much to do! I'm studying fulltime as well as working part time. The only way I can achieve my deadlines is to stay awake and work through the night.

Okay, okay - this "friend" was actually me about ten years ago. But this is exactly my thought processes at the time. Even a couple of years later when I was completing my postgrad degree the same things happened because I had the same mindset.

Looking back now, I can tell you exactly where I went wrong. It wasn't that I didn't have enough time, everyone had the same amount of time in a day, it was just that there were chunks of time that would get wasted. On it's own, a chunk of wasted time doesn't seem like it would make too much of a difference to your deadline but add all these little increments of time wastedness together and you can easily lose days and weeks.

This was why I felt like I had to work all night. All these little missing pieces of time that added up until suddenly I realised the assignment or exam was tomorrow and I was yet to start! The areas where I went wrong are easily defined now but at the time, when you are immersed in this world of time mismanagement, you don't realise it.

So in my bid to help you learn from my mistakes here are my top 5 worst mistakes (with the time management tip at the end)- brought to you in all of their glorious colour!


Yes, we all know that this is a prime mistake. For me, coming home from university and turning on the TV was just asking for trouble. It was particularly bad if the daytime soaps or talkback shows were on - back then it was Oprah and Ricki Lake but I'm sure today they still have very similar daytime time wasters.

The first of my time management tips for students is therefore to

    Tip #1. Learn to overcome procrastination

Need some help with procrastination? Click here to Overcoming Procrastination

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Wasting Free Periods

A free period was a free period - wasn't it? Well, it probably shouldn't have been. Instead of wasting my time drinking coffee with friends, gossipping or figuring out where we were going for lunch I should have gone to the library and studied for an hour. My timetable was never back to back, I always had alot of free periods during the day and I only ever went to the library if I had what I considered a decent study block (minimum 2 hrs). Instead I should have just found a free desk and either studied, planned my schedule for completing my assignments or done some research for an assignment. The second of my time management tips for students is therefore to

    Tip #2. Free period = Study period

Not Starting Early Enough

How early is too early to start an assignment or to start studying for finals? What I've found out from both studying and then working is that it is never too early. When I got given an assignment in class, I should have at least scheduled the due date into my diary. If I'd done this, then the date wouldn't have crept up on me almost by surprise.

An early start can involve something as simple as scheduling an hour in your day (preferably the same day you're given the assignment or at the very worst the next day) to sort out how you're going to tackle the assignment or study prep for the exam. The third of my time management tips for students is

    Tip #3. Start earlier than you think you need to

Not Planning Properly

Not planning properly was a consequence of not starting early enough. The funny thing, particularly with assignments and studying was that the stress of not doing it was terrible. The guilt would weigh on me and would always stay in the back of my mind so although I tried to enjoy my weekends, I knew that the unstarted assignment was waiting.

Planning properly would have meant I could enjoy my weekends guilt-free because I had the time scheduled into my calendar to complete the work.

Proper planning means scheduling blocks of time to research, blocks of time for reading and an adequate block of time for writing and proofing and rewriting. If you're planning your exam study then it means planning chunks of time for revision, chunks of time for going through past exams and then some more chunks for final revision.

The fourth of my time management tips for students is therefore

    Tip #4. Plan, Schedule, Plan

No Room for Error

Invariably, when you pull an all nighter to finish an assignment or to study for an exam something goes wrong. For one assignment at university we were doing a group project that we had all left to the last minute. We had to hand in the assignment at 9am and when we went to print out the assignment (at midnight) we ran out of ink.

When I was printing my masters thesis so it could be bound- (it had to be with the courier that afternoon), the disc I'd saved my work on wouldn't open at the university labs. I couldn't print it out and I had to go to my father's work at 11pm at night and print, photocopy and collate 3000 pages. Then because I'd missed the courier, we had to drive 2hrs to the binders leaving at 6am so I could be at the bindery when the doors opened.

The stress was enormous!! When you leave stuff till the last minute, you are effectively leaving no room for error. The more stressed you are the more things seem to go wrong. The fifth of my time management tips for students is to

    Tip #5. Plan yourself some breathing room

Hopefully you've found a few useful Time Management Tips for Students.

Remember what I've said about taking a Gem away, applying it to your life and seeing what happens. Once you've done this, then return here and try another gem.

Good luck with your studying!

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