Tips For Managing Your Time And Staying Organized


One of the biggest challenges students face, be it in high school or at university, is time management. Trying to manage all the daily and long-term assignments, commitments to extracurricular activities, time with friends and family, and even a job can be difficult to juggle for students. Know that you are not alone. It is something we can all relate to since we have all found ourselves in those situations.

Get a Planner

Get a daily planner to keep track of all the day to day and long-term assignments you have to complete.

If you prefer to use online calendars, then make sure your calendar is synced in all of your devices. Enter all the dates and deadlines into your calendar and set up alerts for yourself, so that you are aware of what needs to get done.

  • You can use the calendars to track daily or recurring commitments.
  • Track your personal and social commitments in a different color than your academic, EC or work appointments.
  • Use the calendar to create and continuously update your ‘To Do’ list. Keeping it all in one place will allow you to track the information better.
  • Set one day of the week – perhaps, Sunday – to go over everything in your ‘To Do’ list and update it.

Write Things Down

In order to stay organized, it is important that you write things down so you can remember what you need to do and when you need to get it done.

If thoughts come to you about another assignment or something you need to do, write it down. You can enter it into the ‘Notes’ application on your phone or computer. If it is centralized, you can focus on the idea when you have time, but at least it is not forgotten.

Make Your To-Do List, Create a Schedule and Set Deadlines for Accomplishing Tasks

The best to stay organized is to make a list of activities you need to accomplish each day and each week. There is a connection between keeping things organized and being productive. You need to create a schedule for each day and for the week.

  • Look at your daily-weekly-monthly calendar and create lists of what you need to accomplish each day and for the week as a whole.
  • Break down big projects into smaller tasks and assign deadlines to accomplish the mini-tasks.  Make sure you check your list often to make sure that you are accomplishing the tasks and moving towards finishing your project.
  • To motivate yourself and see progress, check off all the items you have accomplished each day. Adjust your lists and tasks for the coming days if you did not finish everything today.
  • Set aside a particular time every day or every week to work on long term projects. For example, if you have a project due in 2 months then set aside time on a specific day(s) each work to work on it. Block off that time on your calendar to show that you are busy.

Don’t Procrastinate

It is hard sometimes to focus on homework or a project due a few weeks from now when there are so many other things going on. It is important to avoid procrastinating because it just adds unnecessary stress to your life. The longer you wait to start or complete assignments/projects, the more difficult it becomes to complete the tasks. Unexpected things can happen while you are trying to do a project, so it is important to give yourself some extra time to finish it. For example, you may have unexpected assignments due in another class, something you need for the project may not be available.

If the project involves a lot of writing, you should give yourself time to write more than one draft of your paper. Ideally, you should be able to give yourself time, in between drafts, to step away from the work and come back with fresh eyes and a fresh perspective.

If there is something you can do in a minute or two, do it now. If you can respond to an email in one or two sentences, then take time to send it immediately rather than adding it to your ‘to do’ list.

Get Some Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep impacts your day. If you do not get enough sleep, you could be lethargic which may affect your ability to study, stay alert, and keep up with your tasks. Try to go to bed at a reasonable hour and get at least 8 hours of sleep. Clinicians believe that teenagers need at least 9 to 9 ½ hours of sleep a night.

Develop A Routine

Have a daily schedule planned that incorporates the activities you need to do for the day. If you were going to school every day, you know when you wake up and prepare to head out the door. At university, your class schedule does dictate those activities. Plan to give yourself enough time to get to class prepared for the lecture/discussion. If your schedule is tight in between classes, figure out how you will grab food in between classes and how to get to classes on time.

Waking up a bit earlier allows you to get organized for the day. Use the extra few minutes to check your calendar, so that you know what is ahead and are prepared for it.

Set aside time to eat proper meals.  Enjoy your food and allow yourself to relax during this time. Hunger can impact your ability to stay focused and work.

Plan to work out at least 3-4 times a week. It could be a simple walk, an exercise class, or a simple fitness routine you found online or in an app.  When you are on campus, you will have plenty of walking to do between classes.

Try meditating as a means of relaxing yourself and your mind. It does not have to be for long but even a minute or two can help you get centered. Try this at bedtime especially.

Avoid Distractions- Multi-tasking

Research has shown that multitasking actually makes people less productive. Rather than trying to work on several things at once, it is better to focus on one thing and get it done. Then tackle another one. Trying to switch between assignments or trying to watch YouTube or Netflix while trying to finish an assignment is not a productive use of your time.

When you sit down to work, completely focus your attention on the task at hand. Spend your time focused on the work you have to do and get it done.

Budget Time For Breaks 

It is really hard to work without taking any breaks or being interrupted. Rather than taking breaks randomly throughout your day, it might be more efficient if you schedule regular breaks. Taking a timed break will allow you to relax and step away from your assignments and projects. If you know you have a break coming up, then you are more likely to stay focused on your tasks at hand.

How do you do it? You can set a timer on your phone or computer to start your working session and when your alarm goes off, you are ready to take a break. The break should be no longer than 5-10 minutes. When you take this short break,  time the breaks as well. Make sure you have an alarm set to remind you to return to your activity.

Try the Pomodoro Technique

Choose a task you’d like to get done. Choose tasks that deserve your full, undivided attention. Set a timer for 25 minutes and promise yourself that you will give the tasks your full attention for those 25 minutes. When the timer goes off, check to see if you are done. Anything that is not completed becomes the next task you will complete during another 25-minute cycle. In the meantime, take a five-minute break that is not focused on the work you need to do.

After completing four of the 25-minute sessions, you can take a 20-minute break. This will allow your brain to process the tasks you have been working on and get ready for the next set of 25-minute sessions. Try the App Focus Keeper since it offers to keep track of your work and break sessions for you.

Some Great Apps To Help You Stay Organized

There are a great number of productivity applications available online. Here are a few of them:

  • Remember the Milk – task manager – helps you remember and provides encouragement to tackle items in your to-do list​. The Remember app allows you to: add tasks, associate tasks with sub-tasks, define due dates for everything you need to do today, tomorrow, this week, or any other time.
  • My Noise – noise generator — an effective noise generator that offers sounds meant to help you stay focused on your work​. The Noise App has tons of background sounds like rain, the ocean, and temple bells that you can use while studying.
  • Evernote – allows you to maintain typed and scanned notes with photos, images, web pages etc, and makes it all searchable.
  • Google Tasks, as its name suggests, it is an app that is meant to help you capture, edit, and manage all of your tasks​.

Turn off extra technology

While you are working on your assignments or projects, mute your other devices. Close all the extra tabs on your computer. You will be far more productive and efficient without having to juggle all your social media, TV watching, etc. Once you have completed your work, you can enjoy your social media during your free time.

Prepare for Day Ahead

One easy way to prepare for the coming day is to plan ahead. Make sure you pack your bags and have all your books ready for classes the night before. Pick your clothes and have them laid out so you are not trying to do that in the morning. If you are sharing a room at university, you may not want to wake up your roommate to hunt for clothes in the morning.

Remember What Motivates You

To be able to achieve your goals, you have to remember what motivated you to pursue them. It might help if you write down the reasons why you want to accomplish your goal or at least reflect on those motivations ever so often. This will renew your commitment to accomplishing what you want to do.

Adopt a Motto or Maxim to Follow

When your schedule gets hectic or things are a bit crazy, it might be helpful to have something to turn to – something that will help you refocus on yourself and your goals. It could be simple sayings such as “Slow down, take a breath”, “Eyes on the Prize”,  “Just stay focused,” “I’m strong, I can do this.” Choose a motto that will allow you to focus on yourself positively and kindly and then gives you the motivation to get back on track. Be kind to yourself.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

Above all else, be kind to yourself. We all have bad days. We are not defined by them or have to allow it to stop us in our tracks. If you are having a bad day, take some time to focus on yourself. Go for a walk, make yourself a cup of tea, listen to some music, talk to someone and try to regroup. The old adage still holds true – “tomorrow is another day.”

@Copyright 2020 The Summit College Counseling, LLC


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