The list of things that colleges look for in applicants can be overwhelming. Top grades, hard classes, top test scores – all of these things take time! Not to mention a busy after school schedule with a variety of extracurricular activities.
Every one of these items requires hours of effort after a long day at school, which is why good time management strategies are a must for any college-bound student. Keep reading for tips to help you manage your time and take control of your schedule.
Well thought out to do lists can be your greatest time management tool. Get the most out of your to do lists with these strategies:
- Make your list reflect your priorities by putting big-ticket items at the top.
- Move any unfinished tasks to tomorrow’s list so that you don’t forget about them.
- Prioritize self-care. Include some “me time” on your list each day and make sure you treat it as an important task.
- Pare your list down to a reasonable size. If you have more than a day’s worth of tasks to complete, earmark a few for the next day or for later in the week. Consistently unfinished task lists will only demotivate you.
- Establish rewards. The sense of accomplishment that comes with crossing items off your list is a reward in and of itself, but be sure to give yourself bigger rewards for when you complete all of your tasks or when you have a streak of super-productive days. Go on—treat yo’ self!
Make Every Moment Count
Successful time management means avoiding wasted time, so make every minute count. Always keep a test book, your computer, or some flashcards with you so that you can make the most of your down time. If you find yourself with ten or fifteen minutes to kill, study some bio terms or read part of a textbook chapter. These little study sessions add up!
PRO TIP: Download a flashcard app like Quizlet to your phone so that you always have your study tools with you.
Make an After School Schedule You Can Stick With
Time management for high school students requires careful planning. When you have to fit a dozen priorities into just a few waking hours, you have to put yourself on a pretty tight schedule. These scheduling tips can help:
- Each weekend, create a schedule for the coming week. Include everything—extracurricular activities, social events, study sessions, C2 sessions, and family responsibilities.
- Include a little wiggle room. Things happen—plan for them by including some flexibility in your schedule. Whether this means scheduling in free hours, allotting more time than is needed for some tasks, or including some lower-priority items that can be sacrificed when needed, including some flexibility in your schedule means you can roll with the punches.
- Include plenty of sleep in your schedule. Sacrificing sleep for extra study time is counterproductive because sleep is an important part of memory storage!
- Use a calendar app so that you have your schedule with you at all times. Set alarms if you think it’ll help you stay on track.
- Be realistic. If you start to fall behind one day, shuffle things around. Nothing will ruin your carefully planned schedule faster than ending the day behind.
Successful time management means that your study time has to really count. If you find that it takes you twice as long to finish your homework or complete a study session than you originally thought it would, monitor how you actually spend your time. Was your hour-long study session actually spent studying, or did it include snack breaks, responding to texts, checking Instagram, and Googling the lead character in that show everyone is talking about? Set yourself up for distraction-free study sessions with these tips:
- Use the Pomodoro Technique. Study intensely in short bursts, taking breaks in between. In fact, there are Pomodoro timer apps developed just for this purpose.
- Get rid of your phone—either physically remove it from your study space or put it in airplane mode so you won’t be tempted to hop online.
- Turn off the TV. It’s easy to get sucked into a show; before you know it, you’ve blown fifteen minutes of study time.
- Consider the sound of silence. Studies on the effect of music on cognition are mixed. Whether music will help you study depends on a lot of factors: what you’re studying, what music you play, how loud you play it, and your own personality and preferences. If you usually have music on, try turning it off. You might be surprised.
Use the Power of “No”
Sometimes you just have to say “no.” If your debate partner wants to get together to work on your case but you’ve got three tests to study for, it’s okay to say no. If your best friend wants to hang out but you’re exhausted, it’s okay to take a nap instead. Good time management is about priorities, and setting priorities means that you just have to let some things go. (Cue Elsa here.)