Student Learning Commons: Top 50 Time Management Strategies


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Don’t try to do everything on this list all at once!  Read it and then highlight one or two new strategies to implement immediately.  Once you have successfully implemented those strategies, you can gradually add more into your routine.

  1. Write down daily, weekly and term goals in order of priority and work on top priorities.
  2. Prioritize each task based on its importance and its urgency.
  3. Do not get distracted by urgent but unimportant tasks (e.g.,  the phone ringing).
  4. Complete one task before starting another.
  5. Use SMART goals – specific, measurable, acceptable to you, realistic, and
  6. Ensure that goals are consistent with your values.
  7. Review goals often and eliminate tasks not related to your goals and values.
  8. Find someone to hold you accountable for your goals and task completion.
  9. Monitor, evaluate, and continually improve on how you spend your time.
  10. Use calendars – term, weekly & daily.
  11. Carry your daily schedule with you.
  12. Develop a system of frequent reminders for deadlines.
  13. Know your limitations and do not
    over-schedule yourself.
  14. Get sleep, exercise and relaxation to keep your energy up.
  15. Figure out your peak times of day for energy and do difficult tasks (e.g., studying) during that time.
  16. Do the most difficult tasks first (e.g., studying for your least preferred course).
  17. Study in 50-minute blocks with
    10-minute activity breaks.
  18. Identify your learning style and use study strategies suitable for that style.
  19. Review lecture notes within 24 hours of lecture – you will retain 60-80% more and need to study less!
  20. Spread memory work over the term.  It will take fewer total hours to learn something over several study sessions than it will in one “cramming” session.
  21. Learn memory enhancement techniques.
  22. Plan for slightly less time for reading than you think it will take – work expands to fill the time available.
  23. Read and understand instructions before starting on a project.
  24. If you do not understand instructions for a project, ask questions until you do.
  25. Start papers and creative work early to let your subconscious work for you.
  26. Break down big tasks (e.g., a research paper) into stages and set deadlines for each stage.
  27. Allow extra time for the unexpected.
  28. Use little windows of time (e.g., waiting in line) by always having small tasks on hand.
  29. Do not trust your memory – write it down.
  30. Have a note pad, agenda, or PDA with you at all times to record ideas, tasks, and time commitments that come up.
  31. Combine activities – e.g., read on the bus.
  32. If you cannot read on the bus, listen
    to recordings of class or your own recitations of study notes.
  33. Plan strategies ahead of time to ward off typical distractions.
  34. Group related tasks and errands located in close proximity to each other.
  35. Return calls and check e-mails at a fixed time, not during your peak energy times.
  36. Keep easy tasks by the phone and do them while on hold.
  37. Schedule your typical time-wasters - TV, MSN, computer games etc. – for a limited amount of time that you stick to.
  38. If you frequently stay up late to chat with friends overseas, ask them to do the same for you instead some of the time.
  39. Learn to say “NO” more often.
  40. Delegate tasks that you do not have to do yourself.
  41. Communicate clearly to reduce time spent clarifying or dealing with misunderstandings.
  42. Keep a clean desk and a good filing system to reduce time spent looking for things.
  43. Handle mail once and throw out what you will not read.
  44. Learn from your mistakes.
  45. Don’t spend time and mental energy on regrets and recriminations.
  46. Reward yourself for tasks completed.
  47. Keep lists of possible rewards on hand to minimize effort in developing rewards.
  48. Keep rewards time-limited and within your budget.
  49. When you finish something, cross it off your list of goals – it looks good and feels good.
  50. See additional time management resources at Resources for Effective Time Management (SFU SLC).

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