Skip to main content

Time Management

Good time management is essential when writing essays and reports; in fact, it is essential for all assignments and homework. Research and writing will take most of your time on the assignment, but revising, editing, and proofreading papers will take a few days if you want to do it well. There are many strategies for managing your time.

Tip: Start planning your time as soon as you receive your assignment. List all the things that need to get done for each assignment and then set deadlines for completing each task.

Working Backwards

When you are given an assignment, use a calendar and work backwards from the due date. Determine how much time you need to complete each task (proofreading, 3rd draft, editing, 2nd draft, revising, 1st draft, writing, outline, research, and brainstorming) and set deadlines for each one. For example, if your essay is due on the 20th, you may plan to have your rough draft done by the 13th, outline by the 10th, research by the 8th, and brainstorming by the 3rd. If you set goals and deadlines for each section of your project and stay on task with your project, you will have adequate time to revise and proofread. Good time management and planning means you won’t leave it to the night before it is due.

Tip: You will have multiple assignments, plus readings, labs, and other homework, for each course. Some will be due at the same time that mid-term and final exams take place. Many larger assignments and essays will be assigned on the first day of classes. Start these projects immediately so that they are well underway when and if something else comes up unexpectedly.

Time management is important for success at university in general. For more tips on managing your time on a weekly basis, see: Video: Under Time Pressure (02:57 min) [McMaster, Creative Commons] Video: 1st and 2nd Tools of Time Management: Reminder and Prioritization (03:52 min) [McMaster, Creative Commons] Video: 3rd Tool of Time Management: Weekly Planning (04:34 min) [McMaster, Creative Commons]