Methods for Managing Your Time


  1. Traditional, behavioral time management
  2. “Unscheduled Time”
  3. The “Swiss Cheese” Method
  4. Be Realistic: Expect Setbacks
  5. Use Your Time Wisely: Weekly Guidelines
  6. Time Management Chart

Traditional, behavioral time management

  • Carry a pen and small calendar with you; write down what you do all day; do this for several days; evaluate:
    • What times of day are you most productive?
    • What interruptions bother you most?
  • Write down your long-term goals-what you hope to be doing 10 years from now.
  • Use a daily chart/calendar to manage your time.
    • Fill in required time (e.g., work; household tasks; meetings).
    • Plan study time in “blank spaces” : Break assignments into subtasks. Set priorities daily; star them.
    • Cross out completed tasks; reward yourself daily.
    • Be sure to allow for free time.
    • At the end of the week, analyze your chart.
  • Create circumstances that will help you succeed.
  • Remind yourself: “It doesn’t need to be perfect; it just needs to be done!”

“Unscheduled Time”

  • Observe yourself: Write down all your activities (e.g., work; laundry; exercise).
  • Then look at your use of time — blank spaces show realistically what time you will have to study. If you don’t have enough blank spaces, maybe you have planned too many social events, etc.
  • As you complete 1/2 hour study tasks, fill-in the blank spaces (maybe with colored pencils).
  • Add up the number of hours at the end of the week-you are no longer vague or unrealistic!

The “Swiss Cheese” Method
(Alan Lakein, “How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life”).

Break subtasks down into mini subtasks that take only 10-15

Carry a list of these tasks with you. Whenever you find yourself with
a few minutes “to spare” (e.g., waiting for an appointment), pull
out your list.



Expect setback ­ no one changes habits overnight. When you find yourself
sidetracked, try to stop:



  1. SEE the problem.
  2. TARGET the causes.
  3. ORGANIZE options.
  4. PLAN your work and proceed immediately.


If you need it, seek help from a friend/mentor/advisor



  • You may need to write a contract.
  • You may need to meet with someone regularly.
  • This formalizes your intentions.
  • You tend to work harder to avoid disappointing someone else.
  • A friend/advisor can support your effort by listening, giving advice, and socializing.





  • Expect interruptions ­ don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Adjust goals without nagging yourself.
  • Remember that you must leave some free time for yourself.
  • Constantly look back at what helped you “get going” what actions/thoughts interfered.
  • Learn to say “no” and to delegate responsibilities.
  • Don’t play to study late at night if you are a “morning person”; instead, get up an hour earlier.

Use Your Time Wisely

Managing your time will greatly influence the grades you get.


Weekly Guidelines




Classes: Semester Hours 16
Study Time! 38 (average 2 1/2hrs. per class)
Eating meals 14 (2 daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Exercise 7 (1 hour each day)
Sleep 53 (most people need 7-8 hours sleep)
Wasted time . . . 7 (hopefully, no more than 1 hour daily)
Personal Chores 10 (laundry, shopping, etc.)
Free Time 10 (extracurricular)
Social Time 14


Helpful Hints



  • Study for an hour and then take a 10 minute active break.
  • Avoid television.
  • Study where you won’t be disturbed.
  • Keep your study materials organized.
  • Force yourself to do the most difficult work first.
  • Evaluate your schedule at the end of the week.
  • Don’t nag yourself; just do your work one day at a time!

Time Management Chart

Download and print out a PDF version of the Time Management Worksheet.