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Quick Tips

Review quick and useful organization and time management tips.

Time management is all about organizing and planning; creating schedules, task lists, and organizers can take time, but it will pay off in the end!


Being busy is not the same thing as being effective.

Effective time management means we have a sense of the big picture and an action plan to move through tasks with purpose. If we work smarter—and not harder—we can get more done productively in less time.

The Three A’s: Awareness, Arrangement and Adaptation

Business professor Erich C. Dierdorff from DePaul University notes the Three A’s as some of the most critical skills we need to manage our time effectively:

  • Awareness
    Thinking realistically about your time and understanding that time is a limited resource.
  • Arrangement
    Designing and organizing your goals, plans, schedules, and tasks to spend your time effectively.
  • Adaptation
    Monitoring your time use while performing activities, including adjusting to interruptions or changing priorities.

Complete the activities on the self-assessment tab to assess your current time management skills and identify areas for improvement.

Time management is not one-size-fits-all.

It’s different for everyone; how we manage our time depends on our needs, abilities, limitations and responsibilities.

Consider the following examples:

Before we can manage our time effectively, we must acknowledge that time is different for all of us. You’ll also need to recognize that the time it takes you to complete different tasks may be very different from someone else and that’s OK! We can learn how long types of tasks take us to finish with practice; that way, we can move forward by setting realistic time-related goals for ourselves!

Reach out if you need help for with managing your time.

If you struggle to manage your time, especially when it comes to your studies, please recognize that you’re not alone in this. If you notice you’re struggling, reach out for additional support. 

There are many supports at the university to help you, such as:
Academic Advising
Student Accessibility Services
Student Mental Health Services
The Student Learning Centre

Explore their websites to see how you can make the most of the resources available to you. 

Time management is especially crucial for you—a university student.
There are high expectations for you to prepare and review lecture materials on your own, which is often different than high school.

In other words, you do have a certain level of autonomy to shape your own schedule; however, this means you also have to be exceptionally skilled in managing your time to balance the demands of school, work and other commitments. 

Check out this helpful video that breaks down how much time we should commit to our studies and how long we should spend studying.

There are no perfect rules on exactly how long we should spend studying, but:

  • If you spend three hours a week in a lecture, you should spend a minimum of three hours outside of that class reviewing the material.
  • Since the average student spends 15 hours a week in lectures, students you should aim to spend 15 to 40 hours a week outside of class studying. 

Study at the most optimal times.
It’s a good idea to review course content within the first 24-hours of learning it. After that, review our materials regularly.

Visit the optimize your study sessions for a more detailed overview of how much you should study and when.

Time management does not mean you have to deny yourself things. It just means that you need to reflect carefully, create boundaries, prioritize, and create an action plan. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. There are many strategies you can implement in different situations.

Know How You Spend Your Time

  • Develop awareness by thinking realistically about your time and understanding that time is a limited resource.
  • Ask yourself the following questions:
    • Where is my time going?
    • Is it being used effectively?
    • What time management strategies are working well for me?
    • What are the main things that waste my time?
    • What are my top priorities in life?
    • Do I have enough time for the things I consider essential?
    • What are some of the limitations or challenges I might face?
    • What supports are available to me to help navigate these challenges?
  • Figure out where you need to focus your attention and reflect on how much time you actually have available.
  • Complete the activities on the Self Assessment tab to better understand your current time management and identify room for improvement.

Use Planning Tools

  • Use a calendar. You can use an agenda, phone calendar, online calendar, or white-board calendar. Keep in mind that Google Calendar is part of your tuition. 
  • On your calendar, colour-code your courses, labs and tutorials. 
  • Using your syllabi for each course, record assignments, tests, labs, quizzes, midterms and final exams This will help give you a big-picture view of your entire semester.
  • Visit the Organizational Tools tab for other tips on using planning tools.

Set Study Goals

  • Once you have organized your calendar, it can be helpful to schedule routine study time each week to make it a priority.
  • It is a good idea to review your lectures within 24 hours of learning them, and it can be helpful to have a review session of the previous week’s materials just before class.
  • To learn more, visit the Study Plan page.

Break Assignments into Smaller Components and Work Backwards

  • When given an assignment, break it down into manageable chunks that will take no more than a couple of hours apiece.
  • Use a calendar and work backwards from the due date to plan out when you will need to complete the different sections of the assignment.
  • Check out the Task and To-Do Lists page for more tips on breaking down your assignments.

Use a Timer Technique

  • The Pomodoro Technique is excellent for students who tend to procrastinate.
  • Students can use a timer to buy a simple kitchen timer or use their cell phone to set 25 minutes of uninterrupted study time. Avoid constantly checking the timer.
  • After each Pomodoro, students can take a few minutes to break. These breaks should be short, usually about 5 minutes, and it is a good idea to set your timer for your breaks as well.
  • After four Pomodoros, students can take a more extended break, perhaps for 15 to 30 minutes.
  • Check out this pre-set timer with breaks.  
  • For more about timer techniques, visit the Timer Techniques for Study Sessions page on NOOL. 

Take Breaks and Practice Self-Care

  • It can be easy to burn yourself out while studying, and it is difficult to retain information when you are feeling overwhelmed.
    • Taking regular breaks can help prevent study fatigue.
    • Some of the best breaks are when we let our minds wander rather than filling our brains with more distractions and clutter.
  • Some healthy activities include exercise, participating in Wellness Walks, and practicing mindfulness.


  • Good time management is all about pprioritization. 
  • Carefully evaluate your tasks and determine which ones you must complete first. 
  • When prioritizing, don’t just focus on the urgent tasks, look ahead. 
  • For more tips, visit Prioritization Systems

How to Stop Wasting Time

  • Avoid distractions! 
  • Create a clean, distraction-free study space. 
  • Watch the this video by Thomas Frank from the College Info Geek, which offers some more helpful time management tips and provides suggestions for some apps you can use to manage your time better.



Dierdorff, Erich C. (29 January 2020). “Time Management is About More Than Life Hacks.” Accessed at: 

Frank, Thomas. (21 November 2018) “How to Stop Wasting Time - 5 Useful Time Management Tips.” College Info Geek. Accessed at:

“Module 4: Learning How to Learn.” (n.d.). Backstage Pass E-Learning Resource. Accessed at: