11 Tips for Time Management

BYU Independent Study Time Management Series

Time is tricky to manage. You may start the day feeling like 16 hours is plenty of time to accomplish all your tasks, but before you know it, your day is over. Everyone experiences this, including students! When we feel busy and overwhelmed, it can sometimes seem impossible to accomplish everything we need to. This may lead to a feeling of failure at the end of the day. 

The good news is that you don’t have to feel this way! One habit that nearly every successful individual has in common is the skill of managing time. If you actually take the time to manage your time, you’ll not only be happier and more successful, but also you may even feel like you have more time available. 

So how do you actually manage your time? Here are 11 tips to help you become a master time manager. 

1. Use a calendar that works for YOU. 

What type of calendar should you use? Get a calendar that works for you—and use it! There are online calendars, app calendars, poster board calendars, multilevel planners, or printed calendars with cute animals on them. Regardless of the type of calendar you get, the calendar should give you space to add information, be easy to check regularly and be user-friendly.  

2. Schedule school deadlines 

Write down all of your big projects on your calendar and plan accordingly.  

3Schedule more than just school deadlines. 

School-related items aren’t the only important things you should include on your calendar. Include vacations, birthdays, date nights, and even free time. Include planned errands, travel time to and from locations, workouts, bedtime, meals, and everything in between. The better you account for each minute, the more minutes you’ll realize you have. 

4. Break down big jobs. 

Looking at big jobs and goals can be very overwhelming. Break down the big jobs into smaller, consistent steps with their own deadlines and estimate the resources you need to accomplish those steps toward the larger goal. 

5. Leave yourself buffer time. 

Running into technical difficulties at the last minute, running out of printer ink right before class, or forgetting an assignment are all anxiety-filled situations that are unnecessary and completely avoidable. 

Always leave yourself some buffer time for important deadlines. If there’s an early acceptance date, aim to meet that too. If your due date is three weeks out, give yourself two weeks. There’s no penalty for early completion, but the penalty for late submissions can be steep. 

6. Avoid procrastination. 

Putting off tasks can become a habit, and often we put aside tasks that we think will be boring, difficult, painful, or time-consuming. We may allow ourselves to get sucked into another activity that seems less boring and difficult. 

There are lots of ways to help you to avoid procrastination, and when you do so, you’ll find yourself with more time to do other things! 

7. Include your goals in your calendar. 

If your goal is to be healthier or to increase your spiritual life, include that in your calendar! Add “Run for 30 minutes” or “Study scripture for 15 minutes” to your daily schedule.  

8. Create daily to-do lists. 

For each day, list what you must do that day from your calendar (like big deadlines), what you are obligated to do (work, class, walking the dog), and what you want to do (reading, painting, wishing a friend happy birthday, visiting family). 

9. Write your lists down. 

Use a physical list instead of a mental one. This can be done in two different ways: a checklist or a schedule. The checklist approach allows you to list out the day’s tasks in order of importance with deadlines for specific times if needed. The scheduling approach allows you to pin each task to a time so that you do each one during its scheduled hours. 

10. When you write your tasks, be specific and active. 

Reminding yourself what you need to do, including how to do it, makes the task more clear and helpful. For example, instead of writing “work,” write “Meeting with management to discuss marketing.” 

11. Prioritize and be okay with not getting to everything. 

Each day, determine the importance of your tasks and work hard to accomplish the most important ones. But understand the importance of flexibility—life happens! Even if you don’t get to everything on your list, completing the most important tasks will you bring you a feeling of success and accomplishment that you wouldn’t otherwise have without a time-management system. Regroup and embrace the next day with new hours full of possibilities. 

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