Why time management is important



Allison Yeomans, Staff Writer

With students’ many extracurricular activity involvement and academics, the need for time management skills has become imperative.

Senior Emily Bateman, for one, finds that “without time management skills, my life would be chaotic, especially because of all my activities.”

She is typical of NDP students who are involved in a copious amount of activities on top of schoolwork. She’s on the Varsity Pom Team, the co-president of NHS, Asian Club member, and an AP student.

Why Students Need Time Management

“Time management is critical because it allows you to make sure you are focusing on things that are important first and putting off the other items for later,” said Mr. Robert Gwinn, social studies teacher.

With all of the activities and schoolwork students must focus on, Gwinn finds it necessary that students prioritize what is most important and try to avoid doing too many things at once. When students put personal wants ahead of priorities, “The important items fall through the cracks, and that is why time management is so critical for success in life, not just success in school,” Gwinn said. 

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With so many demands on students’ time today, understanding the myth of multitasking is important for time management.

Bateman, who has a rigorous course load as part of the Summa Cum Laude track,  a schedule packed with schoolwork and dance, but her dedication to time management and all of her activities allows her to do so. “Each day after practice, I do my homework until it is all done,” says Bateman, “even if it takes me till midnight.”

The key to Bateman’s success in juggling her activities is her planner. In her planner, she uses a method similar to that of the A-B-C method. Bateman said that “In my planner, I make sure I number what activities I need to do when. This way, I can plan what I do at what time, and it motivates me to get my homework done faster and more efficiently.”

However, Bateman was not always this organized. “Freshman year I was very unorganized and it was hard on me,” added Bateman. She noticed that to continue to do what she loved and be on a track to success, she needed to come up with a time management system.

Not all students are as busy as Bateman, but they still need these time management skills.

Elizabeth Simper, a senior at Notre Dame Prep, has implemented a combination of these two methods to manage her time more efficiently. This year alone, Simper is taking three Advanced Placement classes and three honors courses.

Furthermore, she is the vice president of the Asian club, a member of National Honor Society and is hoping to get a job soon. With all these time-demanding activities and classes, she felt it necessary to “manage her limited time more proficiently.”

To establish a routine, she tries to start her homework at the same time each night, “usually around five-o’clock to ensure that I have enough time to finish everything.” Next, she tries to do the “harder stuff, like math problems or discussion questions” first, then does the “easier tasks” later, as they will take less mental stamina.

After prioritizing the tasks, she starts completing them. She tries to take two to three breaks for about 10 minutes each throughout the process to keep her brain focused.

Overall, implementing a time management system has worked great for Simper. Not only has it helped her get her work done, but has also helped her decrease her stress. According to Simper, she feels as if “she gets higher grades because of time management, since I put more effort and thought into my work.”

According to Mrs. Mary Ellen Anderson, NDP’s student support specialist,  implementing a system of time management “relieves stress and anxiety, guarantees better performance and gives students the necessary confidence to perform.”

Methods for Time Management

Research has deemed it necessary to implement these skills, but many students are confused on where to start, or what they can do to manage their time more effectively. There are many methods to manage time and priorities, but, according to Anderson,  the following methods have been held most effective: creating a calendar of all important deadlines, estimating the amount of time for each task and to eliminate all distractions.

To further one’s efficiency, Anderson recommends finding one’s “dead time” — a time free of any responsibilities. During this period each week, assign a task for the allotted time. In Anderson’s experience, many are able to accomplish the given task in about five weeks and establish an effective routine for productivity.

Without a structure for one’s workload, one can lose focus very easily. A method created by Francesco Cirillo, called the Pomodoro Technique, has proven effective in staying focused on a task.

With this method, one breaks down his or her work into 25-minute periods, as that is how long the mind can focus efficiently. After working for 25 minutes without distraction, take a break for about five minutes. After four rotations, take a longer break, ranging from 15-20.

However, one is still faced with the biggest obstacle to time management: distractions. For students in particular, the distractions include texting or talking to a friend or family member. To combat this, Cirillo implemented the “inform, negotiate and call back strategy.”

With the “inform, negotiate, and call back” strategy, one informs the distractor that one is currently working on something. Next, negotiate a specific time to talk to them. Call back or contact the distractor when the “pomodoro” or the time-period delegated to the task is over.

Another proven method for effective time management is the “ABC Method.” With this method, one must create a To-Do list daily. It is imperative that one does this at the same time every day to ensure the implementation of a routine.

After the To-Do list is created, review the list and see if anyone the tasks can be broken down further. Next, prioritize the list according to the “A-B-C Method.”

According to the University of Arizona, the task is an “A” task if it meets the following criteria: it supports a long-term goal, supports others, it is urgent or important, or if it is necessary to be completed. One should not have more than two set “A” priority tasks per day.  A task is a “B” priority if it is still very important, but not as serious as the “A” task. Finally, a task is deemed a “C” task if it is not that important and has not set time restraint.

Once each task has been assigned a letter, it is time to prioritize the tasks in each category. According to the American Intercontinental University, the most effective way to do this is to rank the most time-restrained tasks the highest.

To ensure that these tasks are completed in a timely manner, it is recommended that one assigns a deadline to each task if there is not one already associated. Also, try to estimate the amount of time that each task will take. By doing so, one can efficiently plan his or her day around the task.

How Time Management Still Applies in College

Not only is time management necessary for success in high school, but also for success in college. According to the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, “To a college student, it can make the difference between a mediocre and a superior performance.”

Furthermore, the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, if a student does not focus on controlling time, “your old habits will control your time and set limits on your goals for achievements.” Similar to that of high school time management techniques, University of Wisconsin, Green Bay, recommends two imperative steps to implementing a time management system: “establishing goals and following a schedule.”

Some suggested methods for establishing deadlines are using the due dates of assignments and tests as a means to set a date for one’s goal. A significant difference with college, however, is that many professors give “predetermined assignment deadlines and examination dates.” They recommend that the student create a schedule of all these dates and deadlines in order to “achieve your goals and manage your time effectively.”


Apps for Implementing Time Management

A crucial part of implementing these skills is finding a way to keep everything organized that is easy, convenient, and works for you. A great way to do this is through apps that are optimized for keeping you organized. And even better, you always have everything on your phone, accessible whenever you need it. The following list is some of the best apps to get you started, and are listed in no particular order.

  1. Awesome Note (+ToDo) $3.99

Awesome note is an all-encompassing organizer that combines both note taking, to do lists, and schedule management. It allows one to create separate notes and to-do lists by folder, which would be a great way to implement the A-B-C method of prioritization of tasks. It also combines a to do list and a calendar, so one can set schedules and deadlines for each task, and receive optional reminders. The app has been critically acclaimed at has received a four out of five star rating on the app store, with over 13,000 reviews.

  1. Pomodoro Timer $1.99

The Pomodoro Timer allows for easy implementation of one of the most effective time management skills: the Pomodoro Method. The app allows you to go throughout each of the five steps and customize it even further. You are able to do anything from set a goal for the number of “pomodoro” cycles to go through each day, to customizing the length of each “pomodoro.” This app is also rated very highly on the app store, with a 4 and a half out of five star rating, with over 700 reviews.

  1. 30/30 Free

Similar to the Pomodoro Method, 30/30 allows one to create a list of tasks, and assign a certain amount of time for each task. The app keeps track of the amount of time it takes to complete each task, allowing for you to better estimate the time for each task. The app displays a countdown for each task, letting you know how on track you are. It even allows the ability to share you schedule with another user, which can be beneficial if you are having someone keep you on track.

  1. Reminders (Built in on iPhone)

Built in to the iPhone operating system is a to-do list and reminder app titled “Reminders.” With this app, one can create multiple to-do lists based on categories, and set alerts to remind one of the deadline. Furthermore, one can have the app remind oneself of a task at a certain time, or even location.

Senior Josh Valbuena uses this app to keep track of all of his homework, stating, “this app is great for keeping track of everything I have to get done. I can even have it remind me of something when I arrive or leave a certain location.”