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Time Management Tips for Busy Students

September has arrived and with it the opportunity for a fresh beginning with a new academic year.  To help students make good use of the precious time they have, we would like to share some time management techniques our students have used to great effect.

Creating a Planner

Students sometimes balk at investing time in creating a planner, but time management is anything but a waste of time.  It can help students stay on top of assignments and prevent those dreaded all-nighters when they suddenly realize that a paper is due in a few days.  Students should create a calendar with three parts:

A Monthly Calendar

  • Fill in all assignments and tests for each course, using your syllabi.
  • Fill in school activities, including extra-curricular activities such as sports matches, school plays, homecoming, etc.
  • Fill in events, such as standardized tests.
  • Add new items to the calendar as soon as you become aware of them. Keep your calendar up to date.

A Weekly Calendar

  • Include all assignments, tests, school activities, and work obligations.
  • Work your way backwards from big assignments. If you have a Biology test on Friday, for example, block out time to study for that test during the week – perhaps 30 minutes each evening leading up to the test.
  • Create and review your weekly calendar at the beginning of the week, usually Sunday night or Monday morning, so that you know what to expect.
  • As you complete each item on your weekly calendar, check it off. At the end of the week, see which items have not been checked off and decide whether to include them in the next week’s planner.

A Daily To Do List

  • Use your weekly calendar as you make your daily to do list. Some of your daily “to do” list items will consist of homework assignments assigned that day, but consider your weekly assignments, too. Included on your Tuesday evening to do list, for example, might be 30 minutes of studying for that Bio test on Friday.
  • If you really struggle with time management, use a daily planner with times marked, and write what you are going to work on next to specific times – for example, 4-5 PM: Read history text book.
  • Check off each item on the list as you complete it.
  • At the end of the day, analyze the items you didn’t do and decide whether to add them to the next day’s to do list.


Other tips for time management:

  • Read ahead on weekends. For those of you with lots of reading to complete each week, (yes, that’s you, AP US History and English Literature students!) consider doing your textbook reading on the weekends even if it hasn’t been assigned yet.  Block out several hours of reading time and put it into your weekly calendar.  That way you have more time during the week to work on other assignments.
  • Use Timers. If you find that you spend too long on a particular subject or you get distracted, consider setting a timer. Tell yourself that you are going to read for 30 minutes and set a timer.  Take a short (i.e. 5-10 min) break after the timer goes off.
  • Break down large assignments into smaller parts. For example, if you have to study for a test, think about the component parts of that task.  You need to review class notes, review reading notes, work some problems, answer sample questions, etc. Breaking down a big task into smaller parts will help you feel that an assignment is more manageable.


We hope that you are excited about your classes and activities in this new school year. If you’d like to work with one of our tutors to practice some time management or other study skills, please reach out to us to set up a session.

Learn more about Marks Education Tutor Sarah Newport.


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