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Time Management: From a High-school Student's Perspective

Updated on September 24, 2014

"Time is neither discriminative nor exclusive to selected groups of people, we all have it in equal amount, and we decide by ourselves how we can use it."

We all have 24 hours in a day.
We all have 24 hours in a day. | Source

We all have 24 hours/day

"I need more time" or "I am not having enough sleep" are the most common complaints that we hear from many high-school teenagers. Well, one thing that we all need to realize is that TIME is a constant variable (science folks must know this), you have 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, these facts won't change! No one in the world has 61 seconds in a minute, nor does anyone has 25 hours in a day. Time is neither discriminative nor exclusive to selected groups of people, we all have it in equal amount, and we decide by ourselves how we can use it.

We will look at the concept of time from a new angle:

Think of time as your pocket money. Okay now imagine hours as Dollars ($) and and minutes as Cents (¢). Say you are given $24 each day by your parents as your pocket money, now, as the owner of the $24, it is entire up to you on how you want to spend this amount. You may spend all $24 on food (then your piggy bank will starve!); or you may spend one third on food, one fourth on stationeries, an save the rest; you may even want to feed all 24 Dollars to your piggy bank (but then you may be starving yourself to death!).

So this is to tell you that, just exactly like your pocket money, the amount of time you have is fixed, but how much you would like to spend sleeping, studying, partying and gaming is entirely under your own control, this is when "balancing act" becomes crucial. You want to spend enough time on your studies to pass your exams in flying colours, but at the same time you also need some time to relax so that your brain gets refreshed constantly to avoid overworking. What rules are there in order to best practice the "balancing act"? Read on!

Start yourself up with something you like.

Motivation is extremely crucial if you want to increase your efficiency and spend less time on tasks. It is as though a kinetic force that start off your engine, ie your brain. If one is demotivated, s/he will always be lackadaisical, hence wasting a lot of time on the study table, doing a lot of day-dreaming.

Do ONE thing you that really love upon waking up every morning. Say, if you really like a song, set that song as the alarm ring tone that wakes you up every morning. Or if you are in the middle of reading your favourite novel, read a few pages before you get out of bed.

As for me, a good cup of coffee and a nice breakfast gives me my much needed motivation.

What's your type of motivation? You are more than welcome to leave me a comment?

"Working on overdue tasks is one of the main reasons why students lost their relaxing time."

Listing out your daily agendas before working on them is a good practice.
Listing out your daily agendas before working on them is a good practice. | Source

List Out Your To-Dos

List out all your tasks of the day, you can do it digitally via mobile apps, or list them out on a piece of paper if you prefer to do it the traditional way. Remember to also list out the due dates beside your tasks. This is so that you have an idea in mind regarding to the workload of the entire day, and how much time you should spend on each of these task ahead of you and which one to prioritise on.

You will have to try your very best not to bring forward your unfinished task to the next day, because you may have even more tasks coming up tomorrow; like it or not, working on overdue tasks is one of the main reasons why students lost their relaxing time. Just imagine ticking off every single task on your list at the end of every day, isn't that a feeling of success? Doesn't that allows you to sleep sounder at night? Sometimes you may have to stay up a bit late at night in order finish up your pending tasks, but staying up late tonight is better than staying up even later tomorrow.

Assign a Time Limit for Every Task

In order to clear your to do list at the end of the day, it is a good practice to give yourself a time limit on every assignment.

Estimate the shortest time you would spend on each task, for example, I am seeking to spend no more than 25 minutes to solve 5 differential calculus questions; that gives me an average of 5 minutes per question. I may try to get rid of the first 2 questions (which are normally easier or less complex) in less than 10 minutes, so that i have more time to deal with the more sophisticated questions that follow before my 25 min. limit is up.

Short breaks are needed to refresh your mind.
Short breaks are needed to refresh your mind. | Source

Take your Well-deserved Break in Between

Once your time limit for a task is up, stop writing and take a few minutes (3-5 mins) of break regardless of whether or not you have finished that particular task. Listen to a song or get yourself some chocolates, pistachio nuts etc. (mind your time though!).

The purpose of having a break is to reward you and your brain for the smart work (I use "smart work" instead of "hard work" because I assume that you study smart rather than study hard. No?) and collaboration that you both have put in. Furthermore, a break will get your mind refreshed and ready for the next assignment. It helps to discard some unwanted "datas" accumulated in your brain from your previous assignment. You and your brain deserve a rest afterall.

Now, should you have yet to complete your last assignment, do not continue with it after your break, because your brain is now ready to move on to the next task which might be of a different subject, let's say English. Leave the unfinished maths questions to the very end and go back to it after all other tasks are done.

Distraction Factor Poll

What distracts you the most from focusing on your studies?

See results

"If day-dreaming is the factor that distracts you the most, I don't know how else I can help you, you can't lock your dream in a safe-box, unfortunately."

Get rid of Distractions At All Costs

Just before you start working, clearing your table is always a good idea. Putting unrelated stuffs away will help you focus hence study more productively.

Now think of what distracts you the most - i can almost read you mind - ipads, mobile phones, headphones, hard disk containing LOL, shopping catalogues, your soon-to-come holiday itinerary...


Place them somewhere unreachable, if your parents' safe box is your only unreachable place, ask your parents to keep these stuffs i there - provided that you do not know the passcode.

Internet connection can be another major distraction - it is to me. As long as your laptop is connected to the internet, there is a big possibility that you will go on the internet and start browsing for gossip news and stuffs like that (It's perfectly fine if you do that during your break). Therefore, may measure to combat internet distraction is that I connect my laptop to the internet ONLY when I need it, otherwise i will just keep it disconnected.

If day-dreaming is the factor that distracts you the most, I don't know how else i can help you, you can't lock your dream in a safe-box, unfortunately.

Work on Simple Tasks after 10:30 pm

Just like how you do stretches to cool down your muscles after every session of work out, you cool down your brain before you go to bed. Assuming that you go to bed (maybe not go to bed but at least i assume that your brain is most likely "dead" and that you are relaxing or more importantly, spending some time with your family members) around 11pm, I recommend that you arrange some easier tasks that don't require a lot of thinking for yourself in between 10:30pm-11pm so that your brain don't work too much at this late hour. Re-arranging class/lecture notes or reviewing a chapter summary can be a good idea. Should you finished all your tasks before 10:30pm, bravo! you don't need to worry about your brain "dying" and you can now ask your parents to unlock the safebox so that you can reclaim all the distractive items from the safe box.

Waking up early is BETTER than sleeping in late

You hear people say sleeping late at night can affect one's health negatively, but you have never heard people say waking up early is bad for your health. This is because metabolism in our body takes place at night (between 10pm to 2am, just to be exact), not in the morning. Should you really need to stay up at night for study, consider waking up a bit early instead - I am fully aware that this can be hard but it can be easier if the first thing you do upon waking up is to spend some time doing one thing that you love as mentioned previously.

During my busiest periods in High-school, I go to bed before 11pm and wake up at 5:30am; approximately 7 hours of sleep, which is about sufficient for a teenager. Yes i have to concede that waking up that early is pretty difficult especially during winter (when my bed is the warmest place in the world), but that gives me enough time to finish yesterday's unfinished work, groom myself and enjoy a king-size breakfast before commuting to school at 7:45am without rushing.

Understanding WHEN and HOW to say no to hangout/party invitations

Hanging out and partying with friends are teens' favourite. Such activities seem to have inevitably seduced many teenagers like us. Even though sometimes we clearly know that we are not in the right condition to go for a party, we lack the guts to say "NO", for we worry that rejecting invitations can deteriorate friendships. Does that sound like you? Don't get me wrong though, my friend, I am neither asking you to reject all your party invitations, nor telling you to be anti-social throughout your high-school life.

One known fact is that high achieving students do not attend purposeless/pointless hang out. You never see them lying around inside a coffee shop chit-chating with friends, nor will you see them Dota-ing and yelling "CHARGE!" in a cybercafe.

You have to understand that the senders of party/hangout invitations do not know how busy you are. You are the only one who knows how much pending tasks you still have, and how much time you need in order to get them done. Whenever you receive an invitation, go back to your daily to-do list and see if there is any gap of free hours that will allow you to attend a party or eat out with friends (remember to also set yourself time limits on these outings, for example, X hours for a dance party, Y hours for a thanksgiving dinner). Also, you have to learn to evaluate by yourself the importance of these parties. For example, if it is one of your best friends' birthday party, i don't see why you shouldn't attend at all cost, but should it be an invitation of an aimless chit-chat hang out at a Starbucks outlet, you should reject when you are in the middle of a massive amount of tasks. Don't simply tell the sender "Sorry, I can't come, I am too busy". Put it nicer so that people will not feel as though you do not give a darn to their whole-hearted invitation - for example, "Dear Jack, I am afraid i will have to disappoint you this time because i am having quite a bit of assignments awaiting completion lately. Maybe i will come along another time. Have fun hanging out with the others."

True friends should understand your situation and will of course respect your decision to prioritise on urgent assignments. If you friends insists that you must hang out with them, then you should seriously reconsider such friendships. Well, you shouldn't have befriended callous people in the first place.

End-of-hub Summary

  • Everyone has 24 hours in a day, and it is entire up to you on how you spend them.
  • Motivate yourself by doing ONE of your favourite things upon waking up in the morning.
  • Try your best NOT to bring forward today's unfinished assignments to the next day, they will just continue to pile up!
  • Take a break in between assignments in order to refresh your brain.
  • Do not work on complex tasks after 10:30pm. Cool down your muscles and get ready to relax to your fullest!
  • In order to eliminate all distractions, clear your table before you start working.
  • Waking up early is better than sleeping in late.
  • Evaluate the importance of parties/hangouts invitation before you decide whether or not to turn up.

Should you have more suggestions, make sure you write them down in the comment section. I will update this hub according to the valued responses given by commentators.


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© 2014 Thomas Chan

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