Time Management Techniques

Below are some tips and strategies to help you manage your time better. We hope it helps!


Time Management is the most essential skill to develop in order to become an effective efficient learner. For example, without good time management (may not set your alarm) you may not make it to class in time and therefore you can't take complete notes that you need in order to make a connection to the previous class notes so you learn the material you need in order to take a comprehensive exam. Without time management you may not give yourself enough time to read chapters effectively, review, meet with study groups, meet with professors, do appropriate research which may mean you rush which may result in plagiarism! It is essential that a schedule is set that meets your individual needs and personality. In order to do so, you must understand where you learn best (environment), how you study best (one hour/ 1.5 hr sessions, early morning or late afternoon, well lit room or natural light), and how much time it takes to complete tasks (reading rate, paper construction...).

A schedule is essentially a person's process for studying. Much like your process for other everyday activities like getting ready in the morning, how you put on your shoes, your process for driving, dealing with stress you should develop a process for how you study. A consistent process becomes a habit. We are creatures of habit. The more you keep to your process the more habit forming it becomes so that you won't even think about it any more; it will be part of your everyday life.


You need to manage time as well as use it effectively. In order to do so you must understand your own time pattern, your high and low energy times, who uses your time, and if you give yourself enough time to complete tasks. Therefore, we are going to begin by discussing the plan/actual time planner. This planner is different than most because it gives you both an area for what you "plan" on doing during that hour and another area to show if you kept on task or how you "actually" used your time.

There are seven days a week = 24 hours a day = 168 hours a week

  • Give yourself 20 minutes at the beginning of the week to fill out the entire week's schedule.

  • Add all things that are fixed onto the schedule- time of class, work schedule, time you always eat, sleep, shower, meet with study groups or club meetings, athletic practice, visit family, friends and things you do consistently each day/week.

  • Make sure you plan exercise time - staying healthy is essential for you and productivity.

  • Give yourself time off Friday and Saturday evenings. Write down TV shows you consistently view.

  • Block out the remaining hours for homework and study time. Depending on your ability to concentrate, schedule study time in one, two, or three hour blocks. For longer blocks include breaks. Assess the # of hours you blocked out. Have you set a schedule where you are studying at least two hours for every hour in class? If not, re-evaluate.

  • Color code (with highlighters) Make it visual - Make it yours!

Now, for the entire week keep track of your "planned tasks". If you accomplished your tasks then put a check mark in the "actual box". If you did something else, write what you did in the "actual box". At the end of the week look and see how often you varied from your original plan. Set the next week's plan accordingly using the new information and revising as necessary.

From this plan you can also gather other pertinent information:

  • Do you see times where you obviously procrastinate?
  • Who do you allow to interfere with your plans?
  • Do you have "hidden time" that you aren't using?
  • How many hours did you give yourself to do "new" learning (read chapters, do homework problems...)?
  • How many hours did you give yourself to study (review, recite,...)?
  • Did you use your high energy times efficiently?

Use this plan for at least two weeks so that you can see consistent patterns. From this plan each student can develop individualized schedules that best meet his/her style.

For a visual picture of the time plan take the information from the second week and replicate it on the Time Worksheet.

Once you have mastered your weekly plan you can convert to one without the actual columns. This schedule can help prepare for tasks that are not part of your scheduled routine. You can adjust your schedule to meet the new demands as they arise without anxiety because you know your schedule and availability of extra blocks of time.

Quick Time Management Hints

  • Use hidden time: This is time where you are waiting in the doctor's office for your appointment (15 minutes), standing in the grocery line, waiting for class to start, the half hour between classes...

  • Pull out your index cards and go through them two or three times.

  • Close your eyes and visualize your math problems, an economics graph - see how the problem or graph develops step by step.

  • Take out a piece of paper and write down a few terms for psychology then write down their definitions and one or two examples.

  • Make your next day's to-do-list.

  • Remember the key is to balance your time so give yourself time off. Schedule time just for you - use it as a reward for accomplishing the day's tasks.

  • Know what you can delegate. For example, create study groups and break up the chapters for each member to outline.

  • Study difficult subjects first. These subjects usually demand the most energy so it makes sense to study them when you are fresh thus efficiently using time.

  • Don't schedule marathon sessions. Make sure you schedule your study time in blocks that use your time and energy efficiently. If you have sustained energy then set two hour study blocks then a break for a half an hour. If your energy swains after one hour then set one hour blocks of study time with ten minute breaks.

  • Make sure your breaks are not longer than your study time!

  • Many college students set up a two day or three day a week class schedule thinking that they will then have the alternate days to study. This is only true in theory. Because there is so much time, time is often wasted. Make sure your schedule stays consistent with the days you attend class. Get up at the same time, study in the mornings (just like going to class), eat at the regular time, exercise. Whatever you do - do not schedule class days and study days - effective learning is a daily activity!

  • Always have water with you when you study. It is essential to keep hydrated so you stay alert.

Back to the Top

The Daily To Do List

  • This schedule is very specific and task oriented. Specific hour(s), task, location are stated.
  • It should be written on an index card or you can create your own to-do-list form (for easier input) but it should be small enough that it can easily fit into your pocket or purse.
  • Create the list each evening before you go to bed. Do not create it in the morning when you are rushed - you may forget something.
  • Refer to your weekly and long term schedules for reminders of larger projects due. Ask yourself if tomorrow is a day that one of the long term items should be started.
  • Make sure that you create a realistic schedule. Schedule breaks, exercise... Make sure you set study times during your highest energy times.


6:00-7:00 Get up, shower, pack backpack
7:15-7:45 Eat breakfast
8:00-9:00 Economics class
9:10-10:10 Seminar 20
10:15-12:00 Library
  • Review economic notes from class, fill in as necessary using text (30 minutes).
  • Start SQ3R reading process for chapter 2 psychology class
  • Survey chapter (15 minutes)
  • Question (10 minutes)
  • Read chapter. Read each section, underline, create questions in margin, recite what was read in each section
    (50 minutes)
12:15-1:15 Eat lunch with friends
1:30-3:00 Library
  • Free write ideas for seminar paper
  • Develop thesis
  • Reread as necessary to find support for thesis
3:15-5:00 Exercise
5:15-6:15 Eat dinner and relax
6:30-7:15 Call mom
Talk with friend about weekend plans


1. 7:30-7:50 Read second chapter 2 psychology (same process - 50 minutes)



2. 8:00-9:00 Tutorial session for economics - review two chapters for test tomorrow



3. 9:15-10:30 Take seminar paper ideas and create outline supporting thesis
Find quotes to support outline

10:45-11:00 Make to do list for tomorrow

The Long Term Schedule

This schedule is used to see the "Big Picture". It shows all test dates, paper due dates, projects due dates, holidays, athletic game dates, social functions... It guides you through the term so that you know ahead of time that you will need to make adjustments to particular weekly and/or daily schedules. It allows you to break the large project into smaller tasks and disperse it throughout a week or two for more efficient use of energy and so that the project doesn't become overwhelming.

For best results, be creative. For example, color code for a better visual glance and try putting deadlines in red for emphasis.

Glance at this schedule each evening to remind you of upcoming events or assignments so appropriate action takes place in a timely manner. For example, if the prom is one month away then you may need to set time aside within the next week to rent a tuxedo or buy a dress, make dinner reservations, rent a limo...


Bishop, Joyce, Carter, Carol, Kravits, Sarah Lyman. Keys To Success/Building Successful Intelligence for College, Career, and Life. (5th ed.), Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
Bishop, Joyce, Carter, Carol, Kravits, Sarah Lyman. Keys To Effective Learning/Developing Powerful Habits of Mind. (4th ed.), Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, NewJersey
Crawford, June. A College Study Skills Manual: Ten Tips for Academic Success, Cambridge Strafford, Ltd
De Sellers, Dochen, Carol, Hodges, Russ. Academic Transformation (1st ed.), Pearson Education, Inc., Upper Saddle River, New Jersey
Ellis, David B. Becoming A Master Student. (11th ed.), Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, New York
Gardner, John N., Jewler, A. Jerome. Your College Experience/ Strategies For Success (1st ed.), Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California
Pauk, Walter. How to Study in College. (2nd ed.), Houghton Mifflin Co. Boston, New York
Smith, Laurence, Walter, Timothy. The Mountain is High Unless You Take The Elevator (1st ed.), Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California

Contact Us

Collin Pugh, Coordinator for the Tutorial & Academic Skills Center

TASC Center: De La Salle 110
Phone: (925) 631-4869
Hours: by appointment