Published: Oct. 23, 2018

man on computerGetting distracted happens to the best of us, and learning to manage time effectively can play a big role in your student’s academic success. Here are some tips to help your student stress less about managing their time and getting the most out of their classwork and study sessions.

Setting themselves up for success

It’s helpful to begin with getting organized. Your student can use a calendar or planner and add important dates from your syllabuses (exam dates, project or paper deadlines, presentations, etc.). Encourage them to look ahead regularly at their next few weeks to see what is coming up and which things should take priority.

With their calendar or planner, your student can also schedule consistent blocks of time to study or review class material, and make it a routine in their week. It may feel like there’s still plenty of time before big project deadlines and finals, but studying regularly helps to balance academic responsibilities with social time and ensures they are very familiar with the material.

Encourage your student to make a plan for their study sessions and group projects. They should take note of big papers, projects or tests coming up and break them into smaller tasks to work on throughout the rest of the semester. This helps to make progress on assignments that aren’t due for a while and avoid procrastinating until the last minute.

Tips for productive study sessions

  • Does your student prefer to study alone or with friends? Do they need complete silence or some background noise to help them concentrate? Encourage your student to try out some different working environments to find what works best for them.
  • If your student finds themselves easily distracted, have them try out this technique –
    • Choose an amount of time to focus, for example 25 minutes, and set a timer.
    • During those 25 minutes, they should concentrate on their studies. Encourage them to put their phone away and eliminate other distractions during this time.
    • After 25 minutes has gone by, they should set their timer for 5 minutes and take a break. They can look at their phone, take a short walk or get a snack.
    • After their break, they should set their timer again for 25 minutes and repeat.
    • They can choose any combination of focus time and break time that works for them. If they find that their attention starts to wander before the 25 minutes are up, they can start with 15-minute focus sessions.
  • Encourage your student to ask for help if they need it. If they feel stuck on a problem or a concept discussed in class, it does not help to sit with it and struggle by themselves. They can text a classmate, visit their professor’s office hours or help lab, or find a study group. The sooner they ask for help, the less likely they are to fall behind.

For more tips on time management and study skills, encourage your student to check out the free Getting It Done workshop through Counseling & Psychiatric Services.