15 Sep 2019
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12 Time Management Tools for Students

Time Management is by far one of my favorite topics to discuss. I have always been fascinated with lists, life hacks, and productivity processes but over the past few years, I have really noticed that this is a skill that students desperately need support with as well. That’s why I felt so adamant and passionate about adding it as a whole chapter in my latest book, Creatively Productive. When I was asked to put together a session for students this year, I was elated for two reasons. One because I love talking about this topic and two because I love working with students.

As you know, I love curating resources as well as creating templates and goodies so I thought I would spend the rest of this blog post doing a bit of both.

Why is Time Management Important?

I always like to start with the Why. Before I put together any additional resources, I did a little more research and discovered two recent studies that both cited Time Management as one of the top 5 soft skills.

What is Time Management?

After I set the case for Time Management, I think it is important to define it, so we talk about all of the different skills and processes that are impacted by and/or are directly related to time management using this awesome article here. Some of the biggest take-aways are the ability to goal-set, prioritize, break down tasks, really know yourself, and audit and readjust.

Another fun activity is to take a quick quiz to get a feel for how one’s current time management skills measure up. Here are a few of my favorites:

What Tips and Tools Do You have for Time Management?

Tips and tools are really important as everyone schedules their time differently, so we talked about batching tasks (e.g. categorizing and grouping similar types of tasks… researching, creating, phone calls, social media rather than switching from individual task to task), and time blocking (e.g . blocking out time ahead of time to complete a task or project at a certain time of day). From there we dove into analog and digital tools.

  • Time Blocking: Time blocking is really just being aware of what needs to be done, how long you think it might take, and when in your day you will have the most energy to complete certain tasks and planning your calendar accordingly. Also, see “Time Blocking 101” and “Become a Timeblocking Champ with these Practices”.
  • Batching Tasks: Batching tasks is the idea that you take similar tasks and group them together rather than switch from one task to another. For me, I try to bundle all of my creative tasks in one chunk of time, my email in another, phone calls in yet another so I am not switching in between tasks randomly. It isn’t always possible but it is great to be at least be mindful about how your focus may drain throughout the day and plan accordingly. “How to Batch Tasks with Google Calendar to Increase Focus and Productivity”.
Digital Tools

Not gonna lie, y’all… I am more of an analog person when it comes to do lists and planners and such. I use a pairing of Google Calendar and a Passion Planner. That being said… I would never dictate or assume that one tool or type of tool is the best fit for everyone so I tend to share a variety of both analog and digital tools with students and suggest they explore, test them out, and decide what works best for them.

  1. Google Calendar: For this, we talk about time blocking and using Google calendar to set reminders (e.g. 2 days before a project is due, 1 day before a quiz, etc…)
  2. Wunderlist (now Microsoft To Do): This one is great as you can create folders, lists, star items, add sub tasks, create reminders, and add images and files.
  3. Google Keep: Google Keep is fantastic as you can label and color code notes, add drawings, have paper backgrounds (e.g. blank, square, dots, ruled), create checkboxes, utilize speech to text, and even convert images of text into text using OCR technology.
  4. Screen Time: iOS 12 released Screen Time. While this is not a to do list tool, it is great for students that need to set downtime and manage their distractions throughout the day.
  5. Forest: This is the only paid one in the list. It is like a gamified version of Screen Time. You set a timer to stay off of your phone and while you do, your tree or foliage grows. If you fail, the tree dies. If you succeed, you start building a forest. There is some altruism built into this too which I love.
  6. Self Control: I used this during my 30 Day Social Media Detox but it is really great to use anytime you just need to focus and you don’t want to rely on your own dwindling self control.
  7. Stay Focused: This is a Google Chrome Extension that works similarly to Self Control.
Analog Tools

I am a planner girl all the way. I use a blend of a bullet journal, planner, and reader’s notebook and I love exploring analog options… mainly because they force me into an environment in which I find less distractions and more focus … and somewhat because I love my Sharpie fine tip pens and washi tape. All of these ideas are shared in the time management chapter of Creatively Productive in greater detail but I wanted to summarize them here as well.

  1. Productivity Bingo: This is one of my favorites. The original idea is from lalalauren.creates. It is a gamified to do list where one places their tasks in squares and rewards oneself when they bingo. Her example here shows how you can break tasks into subtasks as well. Here is a student example and one of my examples here and one more here.
  2. MindMapped To Do Lists: Many times I need to either batch tasks by focus (e.g. creating, troubleshooting, planning, etc…) and/or include subtasks. This is a way for me to do that. (Example linked here and here).
  3. Things To Do Weekly Planner Template: This is one of my favorites. As you know, I love planners. Some of our students have them and others would prefer something simple and targeted to them so I created the custom template below. The front is fairly self-explanatory. The back includes a month display and a list of questions to support students with mindful planning. (FREE download can be found below in CP Digital Doc Locker).
  4. Project Planner: This is an idea I adapted from one of my teachers. It is really used to teach students to break down tasks and plan accordingly when they are assigned a group project. (FREE download can be found below in CP Digital Doc Locker).
  5. Time Management Forms: These have been adapted from the examples in the Overloaded and Underprepared book. It is really a way to support students with looking at how they spend their time during the evening and on weekends, what their commitments are, and how much time that will leave them for homework, sleep, etc… We have been using these at the high school level for the past 3 years or so. (Example linked here).

I had several students ask for the slide deck and I have been asked to come into another one of our CTE courses and share this lesson this week so feeling like this content resonated with them. Would love your thoughts. If you do something like this, please email me at techchef4u@gmail.com to chat and/or post in the comments.


As you know, I am a firm believer that Students Need Professional Development too. Here are a few more blog posts that detail topics and tips I share with students:


Oh, OMT… The Things to Do template and Project Planning Guide and lots more digital downloads and goodies can be found in the Creatively Productive Digital Downloads Doc Locker. Just sign up using the form below and you will receive a link shortly with a secret link to the site and password to nab your freebies.

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