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Higher Education Students Ultimate Time Management Guide

  • Student
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Life in the university can be stressful. Assignments, events, relationship issues, and many more can stress us out if we do not manage our time efficiently. Ever wonder why there’re someone performs better than you, happier than you but spend less time on putting the effort? This is clearly everyone’s dream: spend less time on some works but more time to enjoy life. In this post, we’re going to provide some suggestion on your time management skill as a student.

Dream Life

To get closer to our dream life, we may try to spend more time to get better performance. The 10,000-hour rule states that: put in your 10,000 hours of practice, and anyone will become an expert in any field. It is a total myth but most people believe. In fact, without proper control of your training quality and other aspects, you’ll end up wasting your 10,000 hours.

Let’s take a look closer to the benefits of good time management skills especially for a higher education student like us.

First, you have more time on what’s matters to you. Be it your family, boyfriend/girlfriend, or some event you wish to join a long time ago. Isn’t it GREAT to spend time on what is meaningful to you? If you love drawing, go drawing. If you love playing football until you half dead, go ahead. Just do WHATEVER you want when you know you’re the one controlling time instead of the reverse.

When time is in your control, you can learn more for better performance then get a higher salary once you graduate. For example, an Accounting student can choose to learn the latest and trending accounting software that the university won’t teach in the syllabus. By doing so, you’ll have a competitive edge compare to your coursemate, then get a better job offer!

Let’s start discussing the main content of this article: HOW do I improve my skills in time management?

Firstly, please put the old-school methods like setting deadlines aside. All those are not going to work unless you have this one thing: your life goals.

Now, please ask yourself a question: what dream life do you envision and you’re dedicated to putting all your effort to chase such life? You only have ONE life to live, what kind of life that you’ll never regret to have when you’re in your 70s? You can spend a few minutes on this question.

When you’re clear about your life goals, everything will start to align.

Keep your life goals in mind and let’s break down several methods that can assist you along the journey.

The SMART goals

Ever have goals in your mind but feeling the goals is too vague for you? When should I finish my task? What specific goal I would like to achieve in this semester?

Here comes the SMART technique to boost your time management skill. With this powerful tool, you’ll no longer fall into the trap of not understanding the goals.

The first known use of the term SMART occurs in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. Since then, the concept has become well-known because of it’s catchy and easy-to-remember name.

From this concept, each goal we make should follow the acronym:

S: Specific

This criterion should help you answer the question using the “5W1H” method. 
“What do you want to achieve?”
“Why do you need to accomplish the goal?”
“Where are the places you need to go to do it?”
“Who do you need help from with this goal?”
“Which resources are needed?”
“How are you going to achieve the goal?”

M: Measurable

How are you going to measure how well you perform for the goal? Is there any data you can collect to know whether you nail it or you fail it?

Other than whether you achieve the goal before the deadline, you should also know how many hours you have poured into the task. This is the key indicator for you to review how well you did and you can minimize the time needed for the same task in the future.

A: Achievable

Calculate the possibility that the goal being accomplished. Do you have enough resources to make it before a certain deadline? I understand that everyone should do the best for the goal, but if at the end you realize the goal is not achievable, you’ll have your time wasted, this is what we should avoid.

R: Relevant

For any goals you list down, you should make sure these goals align with your life goals. If there exist some goals which can’t bring you forward to your dream life, you should know now is the right time to remove it from your to-do list.

Always set long-term goals that you resonate with. Make all the goals relevant to your life goals.

T: Time-bound

Every goal should have a timeline bound to it. You can do so by clearly list out the important dates and times that you have to take note so you won’t fail to make it before the deadline! Pay close attention to the deadline of each goal from time-to-time and modify the deadline if necessary. But bear in mind don’t just keep extending the deadline, you have to spend your time on it!

To-do list word block on paper
Have a to-do list!

Yearly, monthly, weekly and daily goals

Since all of your goals have a deadline, you can better organize your list by categorizing them into yearly, monthly, weekly, and daily goals.

Started from your life goals, break them into several measurable steps that you can achieve within a year.

Then, focusing on your current year, plan your monthly goals. The monthly goals at the same time should help you further achieve the yearly goal. For example, if you plan to win a contest this year from scratch(make sure this is achievable), the plan for the first 3 months ought to be training and sharpen your skills for winning the contest.

Before the start of the month, you should spend a few hours to plan your next monthly goals. Having a clear understanding of the overall goal is essential.

Same to weekly goals, plan ahead of time what you want to achieve next week. It can be joining a short-term workshop or exercise every day for 1 whole week.

Lastly, you should set your next-day daily goals before you sleep or make it the first thing to do after you wake up. Allocate a realistic time frame for each task.


But with all goals on the list, which one you should get it done first?

We know that sometimes there are goals that won’t bring negative consequences if we don’t do it first. In contrast, there are goals that are urgent and important. These goals should be on the top of your list to remind you about its priority.

This can be difficult for you to memory the key options you can make to prioritize your tasks. The 4 Ds Technique may do you a favor. Every time there’s a new task, you have 4 options:

  • Do: Put down the task you currently handling, instead carry out the new task. The new task should be urgent and important to let you choose to complete it first.
  • Defer: Decide to schedule the new task in any future time.
  • Delegate: If the task might not relevant to you or there’s someone who should carry out the task, delegate the task.
  • Delete: If you find a better solution to solve the problem that the task tries to encounter, you can remove the task in a blink of an eye!

The above 4 Ds technique can apply to the scenario that you are going through a list of tasks.

Apart from that, with constant prioritize your to-do list, you are well reminded of your long-term goal.

To learn more on how to prioritize, you may check this website out.

Time management is easier said than done.

With all these guides and tips, we’re sure that you’ll be the master of your time. Time waits for no one. At the age of ’20s, you should spend a memorable time with friends and enjoy life in university/college. But what’s more important is that you should able to juggle both life and study.

We hope that this article will improve your time management skill as a student. Good luck!

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of

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