Five proven time management tips for students of all ages

Where did the time go? It’s a brand new school year, and I am having loads of fun watching and hearing all of the first-day school stories and seeing the pictures of students heading back to school. And while the first few days of school are always fun and exciting for both students and parents it’s imperative that parents and students get a  jump start on making it a successful year and achieving desired goals.

I have to warn you, that just like that, you will look up and half the year is gone. It’s around this time that my coaching and tutoring line starts blowing up.  The first semester is typically okay. The second one is where the struggles begin. Time management can make all the difference in a successful or unsuccessful year for a student. Here are a few time management tips that are paramount to passing classes and being promoted to the next grade or level.


Make a to-do list—I encourage my students in middle school and up to purchase and use a daily planner.  It’s important to know where you are supposed to be and when. It’s also important to make a schedule and see what tasks are to be completed on a daily basis. Checking these tasks off as you go helps you see how productive your day is.

To do list evaluation—Students that are old enough and responsible enough to review their task list can do it on their own at the end of the day.  However, it is important to be very honest and make sure that all tasks are getting done and not just checked off.  For younger children, parents should be a part of evaluating their daily to-do list; this helps to teach them responsibility and accountability. It’s also an excellent time to chat and catch up with your little one while reviewing the to-do list. I encourage parents to make sure they get started with a to- do list with their Middle Schoolers and above, but some parents have helped their children use daily planners in elementary school with much success.

Use your time wisely—most people would be amazed at the time that is wasted throughout the day. One way to understand how much is being lost is to keep a log of your time. There are many distractions to choose from including social media, text, video games and more. The unfortunate part is that we have these distractions at our fingertips now. Gone are the days when you had to wait to get home and watch TV, or call your best boyfriend or girlfriend. Our phones and tablets are attached to us and are everywhere present. It makes it very easy to check your phone 100 times a day. The problem is that each time the phone is pulled out the clock is ticking and time is being wasted. The first time I did this exercise I was amazed at how many times I looked at my phone during working hours.

If you are not already, parents should consider limiting cell phone and TV watching time. While there are many valid arguments for taking a phone to school these days, there are also valid questions as to how  distracting the phone can be.  Gone are the days when half of lunch was spent reading, or catching up on the next day’s homework. Make sure your student is using their time wisely. Talk to them about censoring themselves to spend less time on their cell phone and more time on school work.

Communicate your schedule to others—make sure your friends and family know your study hours. Phone calls and text can be very distracting when doing school work and are huge time wasters. Simply communicating to your friends that you are not available for a period of time would help tremendously. Being able to do homework for an entire two hours versus 30 minutes can greatly enhance and improve grades.



Time yourself-— My final time management tip that is great for all ages is the kitchen timer. There is an actual story behind the pomodoro (from which this method originated) that I won’t go into at this time, but I typically encourage my students to get a simple kitchen timer to use as a time management tool. It is used just the same way your mother or grandmother uses it in the kitchen. You set a time preferably, 25 minutes, to completely focus on your school work , and when the timer goes off, you stop. You would be amazed at what can get done in 25 minutes of focused time.

No doubt about it these time management tips are beneficial for all ages. However, it is especially gratifying to see young students learn these habits at an early age. I have personally seen some great success with students of all ages when they use these time management skills.

Learning these simple, but effective time management habits are life skills that are beneficial in college, career and beyond.  Some argue to let kids be kids, but I am a firm believer that as parents we are given a responsibility to train up our children in the way, they should go. We are given a one-time opportunity to teach them life skills. When we start certain training methods is an individual choice. However, research has proven that those things learned in our formative years are likely to stay with us for a lifetime.

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Dr. Tonya White Johnson is the founder of Exclusively You Academic Coaching and Tutoring. She is an experienced, effective, passionate, certified advanced level academic coach and tutor. Dr. Johnson’s mission is to empower students from Kindergarten thru College, with the tools and skills to manage themselves effectively. Her goal is to transform lives while building confidence and encouraging independent learning. For your FREE academic coaching or tutoring  consultation please  contact Dr. Tonya White Johnson For other great articles that will empower, inspire and impact your life visit

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8 thoughts on “Five proven time management tips for students of all ages

  1. I totally agree that having To Do list is wonderful method how to measure our effectiveness. And for kids? I think they still may be passively learned that discipline which is extremely important.

  2. Time management is critical to anyone. Not only students, but office workers, project managers, Sales folks, everyone in the workforce. It is the hardest thing to do! You have some great Time Management tips here. The one I have never used is the kitchen timer. I am going to try that when I am in the crunch! Great post.

    1. Absolutely Jim,

      I am also a small business consultant, but I have learned that if these habits and tools are instilled at an early age they are much easier to maintain in the professional arena.

      Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.



  3. I love all these tips! I am going to encourage my fourth grader to implement these. I especially love the timer. I use that myself for all kinds of tasks, and I really think it helps. Her friends also know that she studies right after school, so they give her about an hour before they come over.

    1. Hi Amanda,

      I appreciate you stopping by.Yes, I too use all of these tools myself and they really do work. Yes, please do share these tips with your daughter. I hope to hear from you again on how its working out.

      All the best,


  4. Dear Dr. Tonya,

    Especially in college, I find all of these tips very helpful. I agree that it is so important for young kids to establish these habits as early as possible so that they can grow to their potential! I wish I listened to my parents better and incorporated these lifestyle choices earlier. Now kids and parents have access to this wonderful article so that their children can use these not only in school, but in future careers! Blessings~

    1. Hi Grace,

      Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Yes, I was Director of Career Services for a local university, and the students that were most successful upon entering college were those that had incorporated these and other valuable tools in their life.

      Again, thanks for stopping by.

      Many blessing to you,


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