Tips for Time Management

Time management is a skill that allows us to accomplish our goals. We all engage in time management every day by getting up in time to get to work or school, by making arrangements ahead of time for baby sitters or travel plans, or by stopping by the grocery store on the way home from school or work so as to save a trip later.

It can be difficult to manage time when you have many priorities and responsibilities such as school, work, family, and leisure activities. The following time management technique, Backwards Planning, is a tool that can be effective in helping you manage all parts of your life.

Backwards planning works in two ways by

  • Allowing you to determine when your committed time and free time occur each week
  • Allowing you to use your weekly schedule to plan ahead on a monthly basis

Here’s How It Works
In order to be successful in backwards planning, you will need to purchase and carry with you a calendar. We recommend using one that outlines the hours of each day so that you have plenty of room to write in your commitments. Calendars offering limited space to write in can become messy and difficult to read.

Following is an example of how to use Backwards Planning to manage your schoolwork. It can also be used to help you manage tasks at work and at home. The calendar and the weekly schedule at the bottom of the page serve as illustrations of the following steps.

Follow These Steps

  • Write down in your calendar the due dates of all significant assignments, tests, papers, and homework (see September 12, 18, and 28 on the calendar, page 3).
  • Fill out a weekly schedule (see page 4). Be sure to include all of your committed time (time spent in class, at work, at a leisure activity, for meals, driving, etc). The blank spaces are your “free time” or “uncommitted time” for which you may use to study, run errands, or relax.
  • Look at each assignment separately. Break each one down into 3-4 small tasks that can each be accomplished in a week’s time. See following example.

Test – Ch. 1 - Math 070 (three sections)
Complete practice problems in section 1
Complete practice problems in section 2
Complete practice problems in section 3
Review all types of problems for test

Quiz – Biology Lab
Read section in lab book
Complete review questions
Review procedure for conducting lab
Complete lab questions
Review all info for test

Research paper in English 111
Go to library to collect research
Read articles and summarize
Make outline for paper
Type paper
Edit paper

  • Back up in your calendar from the due date for each assignment and assign a date to begin each task for each assignment. It is a good idea to create a task list and record each task on your calendar as soon as you know when the assignment is due. This allows you to plan ahead (see calendar on page 3). You have all of the time between the first task and second task to finish the first one. You have all of the time between the second and third to finish the second, and so on.
  • Use your weekly schedule of commitments to determine when in your daily schedule you have time to accomplish the tasks each week (see Weekly Schedule on page 4).
  • Stick to your plan, and you will be amazed at how much time you actually have to complete your assignments!

Setting mini goals for each big project allows you to accomplish small tasks toward each project in a small amount of time without getting behind!