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If you could go back in time and give yourself any time management tips, what would they be?

I have not done a great job managing my time, but I am working to get better at it as I finish up high school career. I know that I will have a lot more free time in college, and I do not want to spend it all binge watching Netflix. #thankyousomuch


If I could go back, I would have sought out help through my university's counseling center much sooner. If you start feeling demotivated or apathetic about your college work, it could be a warning sign for depression, anxiety, or something similar. No shame in getting help and learning how to manage and overcome that, and the sooner the better. When we know and understand the root of these behaviors and feelings, better time management follows. Chrè Davis Parnell, MSEd

Outstanding advice. I suffered from depression my college years and it was a source of alienation that eroded my self-confidence. Getting treatment early is the best course. Drew Mitty

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Natasha’s Answer

For me, the biggest thing is keeping a log of how you spend your time. You'd be shocked at how long you can spend idly scrolling your twitter feed etc. There are some great apps that can help you do this. I've also had deals with friends and teachers that I check in with them every few hours.


The other thing which has been mentioned is a to-do list. At my college we call them "Done is Good" lists and attach little rewards for each thing. It makes the World of a difference!


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Sudha’s Answer

I would invest in my mornings. Be a morning person. Start your day by waking up roughly at the same time, with a good bedtime. Wake up, do some stretches, meditate and at first journal your brain dump of ideas and a to-do list of what you want for the day. Update your calendar with appointments - make everything an appointment, including going to the gym. Trust me, it happens better if its an appointment.

Sudha recommends the following next steps:

Establish a daily routine
Maintain a calendar for your schedule
Keep a To-do List
Exercise - Cardio, Core and Strength
Use devices/social media only during breaks

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Desiree’s Answer

Hi Tara,

If I could coach my younger self, I would make better use of calendars! It took me a long time to appreciate how deadlines pile up around midterm and finals. If I had reviewed and compared the syllabus (or schedule) for all of my classes and added important deadlines to a calendar, I would have had a better idea of the total time needed to meet these competing deadlines. It also helped create a visual representation of all my assignments.

I should mention we're all bad at estimating the time to complete a task. There's a term for this called the "planning fallacy". I manage software development schedules as part of my job, and I see the effects of this every day. This article provides a good overview with tips for combatting planning mistakes. If you're looking for a deeper dive into time management, I'd recommend Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. You should be able to find it at a public library. He gave a talk at Google about his book, which is available on YouTube.

I agree with other respondents about to-do lists. I still use them daily in my work.

Another recommendation for making the best use of the time you've set aside for school work is to discover the conditions where you're most productive. For me, I enjoyed studying at the library or other quiet places with few distractions. I struggled to concentrate at home because there were too many distractions between roommates, TV, and snacks. Experiment with listening to music, or background noise, like Coffitivity.

Desiree recommends the following next steps:

Buy a paper calendar or use Google Calendar to track the deadlines for all of your assignments
Read an article on the planning fallacy and how to combat it - https://medium.com/the-mission/the-planning-fallacy-why-you-miss-your-deadlines-and-what-to-do-about-it-db5e162307b7
Watch Daniel Kahneman's book talk on Thinking Fast and Slow - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjVQJdIrDJ0

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Liliane’s Answer

I would say to take all the opportunities as much as I could right after High School. It was the perfect timing to choose a career in my point of view.

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Randal’s Answer

My advice: Plan the work and work the plan. Do not be afraid to readjust the plan, given new details or information, but be purposeful about what you are going to do and when (and how) you are going to do it. Thus, for high school (and middle school), the subject you least like is the one you want to complete first, preferable in school when you might have easy access to the teacher or other students in your class who can help you. Save the course/subject you most like for last; you will be willing to spend a bit more time on it if you are tired. The last thing is to remember to create multiple study breaks. It is better to have four 30 minute sessions, with a five minute break between them and a longer intermission at the hour or 90-minute break, than it is to plow through a 2 hour study/homework session. Plan the break time, as well. Check email, post to Facebook, watch a favourite TV show, but stick to the plan!

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Waseem’s Answer

In addition to the other replies, what I have found to be extremely useful is to do a short course on a topic you really enjoy. It does not even have to relate to what you want to/ are currently studying. For example. I am studying Law and Commerce, but I am really interested in software programming, and so I completed an online introductory Python Course.

This is useful in many ways. Firstly you will have your time occupied in something you enjoy, and will therefore not need to find excuses to avoid it.
Secondly, you will also invest in yourself by learning new skills. Many employers look for individuals who are multi-faceted and well rounded. Short courses in other fields show that you are competent in more than one area. It also garners within you the desire and focus to achieve more, thereby motivating you to use your time effectively. In my experience, this is because the feeling of accomplishment when I finished my online course gave me the desire to achieve more.
I wish you the best of luck!

Waseem Moosa

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Diane’s Answer

The best way to manage time is to plan. The plan should include other obligations such as family, school, work, other activities and commitments. Some activities are flexible while others are not. Make a work plan every week including the day, and start and stop times. If a project or school work has a deadline, move flexible obligations to another time to focus on the critical activity. When working on the critical activity, find a quiet and undistracting environment in order to focus. Clear your mind and concentrate only on what needs to be done at that time.

Diane recommends the following next steps:

Record your successes and what worked well. Always focus on what went well.

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G. Mark’s Answer

I would tell myself, "Most Important Now." It's a familiar refrain that I've heard many times, but I have always had a tough time following it. My own problem is that I get fanatical about solving some problems because I enjoy the work. I work very hard on things. But other things unfortunately fall by the wayside, often until the "last minute", as it were. I force myself to do some things and with limited time, I excuse myself for doing a less-than-stellar job. I believe I would have had many successes that have slipped through my fingers because I did what I really wanted to do. I can imagine that if I didn't have a lot of interests, I could have been rather lazy. But prioritization is a good train to foster.


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Winson’s Answer

Hi Tarah,
Thank you for asking this question so early in your life because that is something i wish i asked myself at your age. The #1 thing for me is definitely setting up a Google Calendar and listing out all my activities I need to get done throughout the day. That has definitely increased my efficiency so much. It's the same for work too where i use the calendar at work to track all of my meetings and tasks.

Good luck !

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Stephanie’s Answer

One of the problems I had was I would wait until the last minute to finish essays or projects. Make it easy on yourself and break up the essay and project and do a little bit each day. Keep a list of things you need to have completed by the end of the day, and give yourself little breaks in between each task.


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Cindy’s Answer

If I could go back in time, I would have started college earlier. I waited I had kids. Take advantage of all of the opportunities such as work study, internships and study abroad.

Cindy recommends the following next steps:

Plan out your summer after high school.
Study abroad-travel
Look for internships.

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Adam’s Answer

The best way for me to manage my time, especially when I feel overwhelmed by the work, is to break down what I need to do into lists. For me, crossing off lists has the added benefit of being therapeutic, and it with helps with my time management. I will also set timers, so I know that I am using my time wisely and if I can use a break and still make the times I need. I usually schedule in a time to watch an episode of the office, go on a walk, etc... I know that taking a break seems like a step in the wrong direction, but I feel that a break to clear my mind, actually makes my thoughts clearer. If im on a roll and my scheduled break comes, I usually continue my thoughts and then take a break.

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Schuyler’s Answer

I personally love check lists! Writing down each task I have to do, academic or not, so I know what my day will look like. Once each task is done, actually checking the box next to it is the best feeling because you know you accomplished something! It's also good to take breaks. You don't need to get everything done all at once, so writing a check list is also a good way to set up a reward system. For example if you finish your math homework, you can spend a few minutes listening to music before your next task. It gives you control and freedom at the same time.

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RUTIKA’s Answer

If you are in a school and find your self lost and don't know anything what your next step should be try to give your 100% in the thing you are currently doing slowly you will come to your next step. Don't waste your time thinking about it. Yeah i know its important to think about it but it should affect your present much.

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Kiran’s Answer

If I could go back I want organize more science outreach programs to students teach them why and how to study science and importance of education.


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Eliza’s Answer

I would reach out to my counseling services department and career counseling services department to steer me into what gives me life and passion. never doubt myself and abilities. learning outside of academia. and investing in a hobby not to make a profit later but to find solace in something other than productivity

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Zachary’s Answer

In addition to keeping a to do list, I rank my to do list in order of importance and urgency. For example, my essay may be due tomorrow, and my final project is due next week. The final project ranks higher in terms of importance, however, the urgency of the essay places it at a higher priority.

Zachary recommends the following next steps:

Make your to do list
On a 1 to 10 scale, give each item it’s own score based on importance.
Do the same thing only this time for importance.
This is up to you. Create your own method for determining priority based on importance and urgency.
Based on your determination of priority, you can then choose which tasks to tackle first. A lot of times the priority of an item changes, at least for me, on a day today basis.

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Amanda’s Answer

Hi Tarah,

Great question!

If I could go back and give myself tips:
1) Sunday night I would create a weekly plan of goals/tasks I want to complete throughout the week (Google Keep)
2) I would create a daily agenda breaking down what tasks I would like to complete each day and a specified time in the day to complete the task (Google Calendar)

Great tools I recommend are Google Calendar and Google Keep (To-Do list/Post-It Notes Digital Tracker).

The most important thing is recognizing your goals and creating a plan to achieve those goals.

Good luck!




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Sedanur’s Answer

If I could go back in time, I would organize everything. Creating to-do lists are really helpful to manage your time. Also, I would create a list about the things I am spending too much time, in other words, I would observe myself. Lastly, I think I would use Pomodoro technique which is quite useful for both managing the time and studying effectively.


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Cassandra’s Answer

It is great that you recognize that time management is imperative to be successful, that's the first step!

Cassandra recommends the following next steps:

One thing I try to do is make a list of "to-do's", putting tasks with the highest priorities first. Then, I try to schedule my obligations and my priorities accordingly.

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Allison’s Answer

That staying up late to do more work will only make you less efficient the following day. Better to get sleep!


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Nick’s Answer

I've seen a few answers address the initiative of recording, tracking, and evaluating your time. It may seem like overkill to plan things like free time, social time, and sleep, but as you gain more responsibility in college, this will become crucial in separating you from your peers and remaining emotionally healthy.

You don't have to go crazy planning every hour, second, and minute of your day at first (though growing to separate your days by the hour can become a great skill to increase your income and get the most of your social life). You can simply start by mapping out your goals for college. Ask yourself what is it that you want to get out of your time there. Don't stop with your academic goals, make social goals, skill goals, specific accomplishments, etc. Do some research and see how you can get involved in non-academic activities and clubs at your university. This is a great way to force yourself to learn time management and prioritize, while making connections, building leadership skills, and growing socially.

To sum up, I agree with the approach of closely logging and recording your time. But make sure you give yourself time to consider what is most important to you, and what you want to accomplish while in school.

I hope this helps and best of luck!

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Isel’s Answer

Hi there, If I was able to give myself advice, I said "Spend at least an hour at the start of the week organizing your hourly calendar. Write down the task you need to complete for the week, and start checking them off. Make regular routines so you be more efficient and organized. What ever you cannot get done let if go, it can always can be done next day."

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Chrè’s Answer

If I could go back, I would have sought out help through my university's counseling center much sooner. If you start feeling demotivated or apathetic about your college work, it could be a warning sign for depression, anxiety, or something similar. No shame in getting help and learning how to manage and overcome that, and the sooner the better. When we know and understand the root of these behaviors and feelings, better time management follows. 


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