person writing in planner

School, extracurriculars, part-time jobs… no matter how full a student’s schedule is, time management skills are essential in ensuring they get the most out of their education. After all, what good are all of those activities if you can’t seem to keep up and you’re constantly losing track of due dates for important assignments? 

It’s incredibly easy for a student to lose track of time while juggling responsibilities in various parts of their life. That’s why honing in on time management skills for students can make all the difference in the world. Whether you choose to use a streamlined planner or you prefer the set up of a calendar, even the most basic time management tools are worthy.

This upcoming summer break is a great time to practice time management skills! Summer jobs, test prep, responsibilities, and events can fill up your schedule quickly  – if you practice your organizational and planning skills during the break, you’ll be best equipped for your fall semester!

Let’s take a few minutes to explore some of the most beneficial time management skills for students.

Utilize a Planning System

A planning system, like a calendar or planner, can go a long way in keeping track of when important assignments are due or when the next big test is supposed to happen. Planners and calendars are also helpful when it comes to juggling multiple classes at once. When you can see all of your classes’ assignments and due dates laid out in front of you, you’re going to have a much easier time prioritizing what work to do first.

With all of that said, keeping a planner can also get overwhelming. This is especially true when, for example, several assignments are due at once and you only used one color to write everything down. To prevent this stress from happening, here are a few helpful tips and tricks for keeping an organized planner: 

  • Color code your classes. This way, you can automatically see that the assignment marked in red refers to math while the green assignment is your upcoming science project due date, for example. Digitally, this can be done with a highlighter or text color tool; physically, different colored highlighters or pens are a crucial investment.
  • Write down due dates right away. Doing this will ensure that you don’t forget when the assignment in question is due.
  • Include non-school responsibilities in your planner. Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment or you work a part-time job, you should still mark them in your school planner. This will show you the days when you may not have as much time to devote to your work, so you can see which other days you have available to study.

This time management worksheet from Upper Iowa University can help students who are struggling with time management find out where they have extra hours and where they may need to tweak a few things.

Trying to reduce paper waste? Digital planners may be the way to go – organizing digitally helps you avoid the clutter of pens, markers, and other supplies and is accessible from anywhere!

Break Up Your Work

Imagine opening your well-organized planner to write down your next assignment only to find out that it’s an essay due in three weeks. This essay is going to count for 25% of your grade and is going to require thorough research and thoughtful sentence structure. 

Instead of fretting over the size of the assignment, consider breaking it up over the following three weeks to ease your workload. For example, you could break the assignment up in one week increments.

Week one will consist of research for your topic and getting your sources all together and organized. Week two is dedicated to compiling all of your research into a first draft. Week three won’t feel nearly as scary as you approach the upcoming due date because all you have left is to fine-tune your rough draft before turning it in.

As you can see in the above example, working on an assignment for a longer stretch of time will actually feel like less work than finishing everything last-minute. While it might seem more enticing to get the assignment done all in one go, breaking up the work allows more wiggle room for brain breaks and exponentially reduces stress leading up to a due date. Parents and teachers – reinforce this method, as it is an excellent tool in how to help a teenager struggling in high school.

Set Assignment Priorities

It’s also helpful to be aware of the order of priority in which your assignments are grouped. This circles back to keeping an organized planner. Once you sit down to start on your schoolwork, you can open your planner and mark which assignments are due first and require your immediate attention. Once you’ve marked those, you can cross them off as you work in order from most important to least important.

Know When to Step Back

As much as we want to get done with our work as soon as possible once we get started, it’s important to remember how important a break is from time to time. With the mental load middle and high school students carry, along with the hormone dysregulation that comes from puberty, it makes sense that teens need frequent breaks to reset.

With that said, it’s important to approach taking breaks cautiously. If you aren’t careful, those breaks can quickly morph into procrastination. Instead of taking constant breaks while doing your work, consider using a break as a reward to yourself for getting an assignment or a component of a project finished.

The promise of a reward after completing a task helps the brain be more driven to finish the task at hand. That drive you feel after promising yourself the reward of a break comes from the dopamine released in your brain as it anticipates that reward.

The best way to take regimented breaks and still feel satisfied while working is to set various alarms on your phone. For example, this could be an alarm set to go off every 30 minutes, where you allow yourself 15 minutes of rest between working or studying. In that time, try not to stare at a screen – especially if you’re working on your assignments digitally. This can strain your eyes and tire you out when you start working again. Try and limit screen time to five minutes during your break, spending the rest of it doing something else you enjoy without your device.

Follow Your Inspiration

With bigger and more creative assignments like science projects or English essays, you may encounter moments in which you want to pour all of your creative and intellectual energy into them. That inspiration and motivation shouldn’t be ignored. In fact, you should take advantage of it!

It has been proven time and again that when a person is passionate about what they’re working on, the quality of the work is much higher than if they felt forced. Try to prioritize what you want to do!

But what about those urgent assignments that need to get done before the next school day? When this is the case, allow yourself a certain amount of time to work on what is inspiring you. After you finish your outline or you research your science experiment, step away from the big project and work on the more pressing assignments. Come back to the fun work as a reward when you’re finished!

Time Management and Test-Taking

Having good time management skills when it comes to test taking is important before and during the test in question. Whether it’s a unit test in history class or the SAT, planning ahead and making the most of your time will ensure you succeed when it comes to test day.

To help better prepare yourself for test day and make the most of your test-taking time, consider using these tips:

  • Sign up for entrance exams early. Dates for the ACT, SAT, and ISEE tend to fill up rather quickly. To secure your spot, make sure you get in as soon as possible. Also, make sure to write down your designated day so you don’t forget when to show up!
  • Allocate time for studying. In the weeks leading up to the test, make sure you spend adequate time preparing for what could be on the test. Set specific “study time” sections in your planner, and you can study with a friend to motivate you!
  • Take practice tests. If you take practice tests in preparation for a test, especially standardized tests, you’ll know what to expect. Time yourself during the practice tests to get a feeling for the time you have for the real test – if you choose Piqosity for test-prep, each practice test is timed and you can review how long you spent on each question. While completing these tests, try to beat your time and score as you take each consecutive test.
  • Answer the questions you know first. If you find yourself spending more than 20 seconds pondering an answer, skip it and come back after answering what you’re confident of.
  • Keep a running list of skip questions. While skipping questions is certainly helpful in ensuring you get done in time, you should make sure you keep a full list of every question you skipped so you don’t accidentally forget to go back to one. Simply write down each number you skip on a free space of paper.

We understand that a barrier in test-taking time can also come from a lack of confidence in the English language. Our guide to improving ELA skills or our guide to reducing ELL students’ test-taking anxiety can help students struggling with the English language develop skills and learn tools that will help them see success throughout their education.

Improve Your Time Management Skills With Piqosity

Our courses and practice tests are great resources for refining time management skills for students! When you try your hand at a practice test on Piqosity, you’re given access to a timer that can help you keep track of how long you’re spending on each question and section. You can even set it to 2x time, time and a half, or the test’s given time. Upon completing a practice test and reviewing your answers, you can see how long each question took you as well as your total time. 

Our timing capabilities are only the beginning of the extensive features we have to offer – included are the Piqosity Virtual Tutor (personalizing your practice with the help of AI), analysis of strengths and weaknesses, realistic peer-normed test questions, and more! An online service like Piqosity that times you and helps you practice is guaranteed to help you feel more confident in your time management skills in test-taking and beyond. 

Joining Piqosity is completely FREE (no credit card information required, no sneaky “free” trials). Start off with our mini diagnostic test to get a baseline score, and set realistic goals for your student’s success.

Then, figure out a plan for exactly how you’d like to study. You can continue to use many of Piqosity’s unique features and valuable resources as part of our FREE Community package. But, if you’re ready for the next step, you can choose among several competitively-priced test prep or course-based packages. We currently offer:

Online Math Enrichment Courses 

Online ELA Enrichment Courses

Online Test Prep Courses 

When you sign up for Piqosity, you have access to our materials for 365 days. So, no matter how many times your student takes a test (such as the SAT) or how long they struggle in a specific class, you will have the resources of Piqosity on your side. If you believe the benefits of virtual learning are worth our one-time costs, don’t hesitate and help get your child on track today!

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