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Academic Coaching and Study Skills

Blog Post # 1: How Can I Manage my Time Better? (Part I)

How Can I Manage my Time Better? (Part I)

By: Chelsey Finney

We’ve all been there. You look at the calendar and assure yourself that there is still 1-2 weeks left before your assignment is due. There is still plenty of time to both start and finish it. Before you know it, several days go by with a blink of an eye. You had to work, meet friends, run errands between classes and shifts, cook meals and do laundry, etc. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day – 8 to 10 of which are saved for a good night’s rest. Now, you only have 3-4 days to plan, research for, and write the entire assignment. The pressure to do well on each stage of the project sets in. You ask yourself: how did I get into this mess?

Mindset for time management

For many students, it can be hard to achieve their goals for different reasons, including….

  • Timeliness
  • No being able to evaluate the assignment properly
  • Lack of prioritizing
  • Need for perfectionism or indecisiveness
  • Difficulty in concentrating / low motivation
  • Distractions / procrastination
  • Poorly organized workspace

Picture of Finn-Rogers Hierarchy of Management graph

Many researchers agree that addressing these hurdles are important for achieving success. To be your best self as a student, you need to feel as though you are in control of how your time is spent.

This is what we call having a positive time-attitudeTime management is all about having a goal in mind.

There are two key ways of doing this: short-term planning and long-term planning. Having a consistent schedule in mind will help you to feel in control of your time as a student. But sticking to your plan is vital! It’s important to recognize that you are in utter control to set your own goals, and meet them on your own terms (Macan, Shahani, Dipboye, and Phillips, 1990; Nasrullah and Khan, 2015).

Short-term planning strategies

Short -Term Planning involves setting realistic goals that can be accomplished by the end of a single day or within a week. You can work toward these goals by creating to do lists and/or using a weekly planner.

Picture of day plannerThis is a screen cap of my own day planner as an example. Notice a colour coding system to stay organized:

Yellow Green represent work shifts between my two jobs (number in brackets stands for how many hours for each shift)

Orange represents assignment due dates

Pink represents pay-(yay) days

As I achieve each objective, I check them off. I normally keep a post-it tab divider along the edge of one of the pages. This helps me to quickly index which week I’m on in the month if I need to schedule something that has just come up (e.g. having to pick-up some groceries, or when to start upcoming assignments).

If an e-calendar or mobile app is easier to carry around, try some of these:

  • Google Calendar
  • aCalendar
  • Jorte Calendar
  • Acuity Scheduling

Handwritten to do lists are equally helpful for prioritizing your daily (or weekly) goals. As a student, yours may look like…

  • Class from 8:00 am to 11:15 am

  • Work from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm

  • Dinner from 5:30 pm to 6:30 pm

  • Self-care from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm

    • This could be treating yourself to a face mask

    • Watching the Jets game for an hour (or a movie)

    • Playing a couple rounds of your favourite video game

  • Work on your assignment draft, review lecture notes, or brainstorm ideas to create an essay outline from 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm

It is important to schedule time during the day to practice self-care. Having a schedule this packed daily can be both stressful and overwhelming. A friend of mine once asked: “If we were on a plane and the engine blew, whose oxygen mask would you put on first?” I immediately replied “his”. He shook his head and pointed out to me that “you can’t help someone unless you put your own mask first.”

It’s true. Your health and time are just as important as your peers, colleagues, instructors, and loved ones’. When you’re a student, you need to come first.



Nasrullah, S., & Khan, M. S. (2015). The Impact of Time Management on Students' Academic Achievements. Journal of Literature, Language and Linguistics, 11, 60-71. Retrieved February 20, 2019.

Macan, T. H., Shahani, C., Dipboye, R. L., & Phillips, A. P. (1990). College Students' Time Management: Correlations With Academic Performance and Stress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(4), 760-768. Retrieved February 20, 2019, from