3 Effective Time Management Strategies for the Straight-A Student

For the typical high school student, four years can go by in a blur. From balancing course schedules loaded with challenging AP courses, to volunteering for community service credit or being captain of the varsity basketball team, high school students these days need to be on top of their game. College application season is around the corner, and extracurricular activities along with teachers are becoming exponentially more demanding than ever. How can you juggle all of these responsibilities?

Effective time management skills are essential to building a well rounded student. The most successful students are the ones who can manage their time. These skills will carry on to later phases of their lives, preparing them for college and to be a successful professional in later years. Work-life balance is not just a term used for adults in the career force; teenagers need to be able to balance their activities too. 

Here are 3 strategies to manage time more effectively:

  1. Time-blocking

Keeping a calendar where you can block your various commitments is absolutely critical to maintaining control over your schedule and better organizing your life. One tip I have is keeping a planner with various commitments including meetings, assignment deadlines, and appointments. Another option is to keep a notebook and write down all commitments that pop up during the course of the day, which Cal Newport suggests for high-achieving students. Then, at the end of the day, transfer them to your calendar. There are various calendar applications that you can use. The most typical ones include Google Calendar, iCal, and Outlook. Other newer options include Fantastical and TickTick. There are many applications out there that can organize your time better. Technology is a great way of maximizing our productivity and learning in our daily schedules, and I highly suggest making good use of existing apps.

  1. To-do Lists

Everyone has heard of a to-do list, but it’s not enough to write down all the tasks you need to complete by the end of the day. I suggest keeping a list of short term goals for the day. David Allen suggests batching together tasks of similar context in order to reduce context switching, which is energy that is used up when moving from one task to other. Viewing things you have to do as responsibilities rather than accomplishments and goals makes it harder to complete them. When you reach a goal, reward yourself and you will be more motivated to take action on your assignments and chores. Goal-setting is an essential skill for students to learn and master. If you’re finding it hard not to procrastinate on your assignments, the first step I would suggest is to sit down and take a piece of paper or notebook and write down your goals. Putting pen to paper is essential in making your thoughts more tangible, no matter what learning style you subscribe to.

To take this a step further, rank the goals by order of priority, 1 being least important and 5 being most important. Complete the most important goals first. Not all tasks are completed equallyl. The Pareto Principle can be applied here: 20% of your tasks account for 80% of your productivity for the day. Do everything you have to get done, but do the most important things first. 

  1. Pomodoro Technique

The Pomodoro technique is based on the principles governing focus and attention. Our brains have two modes: focused and diffuse. In focused mode, we are in deep concentration, working in a state of heightened focus on a single activity. Diffuse mode occurs when we take a break from the activity and our minds are allowed to wander. Alternating your time between focused time blocks and breaks is important for learning and understanding the material. The Pomodoro technique relies on regulating your time in 25-minute work sessions and 5 minute breaks, or 50-minute work sessions and 10-minute breaks, to optimize your brain’s natural propensity towards concentration and relaxation. Make use of this technique to take ownership of your schedule and seize the day!

Hope these techniques work well when incorporated in your school week. Remember to take breaks when necessary, and health comes first. Work hard to play hard!

About the Author

Shirley Xu

Shirley Xu

Shirley Xu is an experienced STEM tutor at GooRoo. She tutors a variety of subjects including math, science, and programming. Gooroo is a tutoring membership that matches students to tutors based on their customized learning needs.