Time Management

Background Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. It is believed that good time management enables you to work more efficiently so that you get more done in less time. Additionally time management strategies provide structures for when time is tight and pressures are high. […]

Written By rodaniel

On February 23, 2024

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Time management is the process of organizing and planning how to divide your time between specific activities. It is believed that good time management enables you to work more efficiently so that you get more done in less time. Additionally time management strategies provide structures for when time is tight and pressures are high. There is some evidence that failing to manage your time effectively may cause increased stress.


Time Management is the act or process of planning and exercising conscious control over the amount of time spent on specific activities, especially to increase effectiveness, efficiency, or productivity. ~Michelle Buck, 2000

Literature Review

Macon (1990) did the first in-depth analysis of time management in the development of the Time Management Behavior scale. To create her scale she identified thirty-three behaviors from time management literature. During her research Dr. Macon determined several factors showed significance: Setting Goals and Priorities, Mechanics: Scheduling and Planning, and Preference for Organization. Each of these factors have behaviors that contributed to their significance (see table below) and provide characteristics for development of the time management skill. 

Setting Goals and Priorities Mechanics: Scheduling and Planning Preference for Organization
Evaluates daily schedule (0.70) Carries Appointment Book (0.57) Positive behaviors
Reviews Activities (0.65) Makes list of things to do (0.54) Organizes by preference (0.46)
Sets priorities (0.57) Writes reminder notes (0.51) Schedules wasted time (0.41)
Sets deadlines (0.63) Schedules events weekly (0.41) Leaves clean workspace (0.40)
Completes priority tasks (0.42) Keeps daily log (0.37)
Breaks down tasks (0.53) Schedules time daily (0.31) Negative behaviors
Increases task efficiency (0.57) Practices recordkeeping (0.48) Is disorganized (0.53)
Sets short-term goals (0.53) Uses wait time (0.47) Has messy workspace (0.47)
Reviews goals (0.50) Carries notebook (0.46) Forgets list made (0.48)
Keeps long-term goals (.044) Avoids interruptions (0.43) Believes days to be too unpredictable (0.41)


Research on organizational stress, and this can include stress from school, suggests that work related stress is a critical influence on health and well-being. Students who perceived themselves to have control over their time felt fewer school and somatic tensions than did students who did not perceive themselves to have control over their time (Häfner, Stock et al. 2015). Therefore actual control of time is directly tied to perception.  This connection to perception fits with research into the field of self-efficacy as well and the increase in perception is correlated with positive impacts on student performance (Bandura 1977, Schwarzer 2014).

Nadinloyi and team (2012) identified that almost 73% of students start learning or actually learn with less than one week before the exam period. Overwhelmed by the volume of learning material and the short period available, students fail to reach performance expectations, which were strongly associated to their intellectual abilities. Magher’s research (2005) shows that students are much more motivated if they can solve the task in a personal rhythm rather than cramming to meet external schedules. These findings support the locus of control students feel when implementing time management strategies (Indreica, Cazan et al. 2011).  

When students implemented time management factors, implementation was positively correlated with increases in GPA and life satisfaction. In the analysis of her findings Macan identified negative correlations between stress, tension and role ambiguity when time management factors were present (Macan 1990). A very important component of her findings is Factor 3 in her original research, person’s perception of control of time. Again this perception is key because those factors of stress and tension loaded most negatively on that factor.

There is a growing body of research that found that effective time management strategies increase academic performance (Campbell, Svenson et al. 1992, Burrus, Jackson et al. 2016). They also site that time management behaviors enhance achievement for college students, especially productive study methods (Entwistle & Ramsden, 1983; Kirschenbaum & Perri, 1982; Mega, Ronconi et al. 2014). Effective study techniques include starting large tasks well before due dates, breaking down large tasks into small ones, and doing small tasks on a regular schedule (Brown, 1991).  Misra and McKean (2000) found that when students ignored these behaviors their stress before exams increased. 

In their study Misra and McKean found multiple effects of the implementation of time management behaviors on college students;

  • College females performed more and more effective time management behaviors than male college students. One contributing factor may be that females perceived more stress than males when they did not perform the time management behaviors. 
  • Male college students reduced their academic stress due to changes and frustration (daily hassles) when they perceived themselves to be in control of their time, able to set goals, and organized.
  • Perceived Control of Time reduced academic stress due to changes in female college students, but unlike males, it did not reduce stress due to frustration.
  • Those females who were goal oriented had less frustration. 
  • Planning lowered stress for females, but did not lower stress for males. 
  • Preference of Organization reduced academic stress for females in all the categories.
  • Setting goals and priorities among females reduced emotional reactions and increased cognitive reactions to stressors.
  • Planning and scheduling (Mechanics of Time Management) reduced emotional reactions and increased cognitive reactions among both males and females.
  • Organization, however, lowered behavioral, emotional, and physiological reactions to stressors only among females. 
  • Females reported leisure activities in an aesthetic environment improved coping with stress.

The differences in impact indicate there may be different explicit strategies to use with different populations based on sex.

Crede and Kuncel (2008) found that study habit and skill measures improve prediction of academic performance more than any other noncognitive individual difference variable examined to date and should be regarded as the third pillar of academic success. They categorize the first two as intellective (cognitive) and nonintellective (noncognitive) factors.

Implementation of time management strategies indicated greater conscientiousness which results in greater academic achievement as well. That is, more conscientious students implement more effective time management practices, which allow them to succeed academically. This finding replicates the work of McKenzie and Gow (2004). MacCann, Fogerty, and Roberts (2012) maintain that the importance here is that time management behaviors can be taught providing influence over conscientiousness and academic achievement. 

Time management behaviors can be mediated through metacognition and self-reflection. Flavell defines metacognitive processes as “one’s knowledge concerning one’s own cognitive processes and products …[and] the active monitoring and consequential regulation of those processes in relation to the  cognitive objects or data on which they bear” (Flavell, 1976, p. 232). Students high in these processes also express greater study and time management behaviors. There is indication that these skills can be developed in combination as students learn the process of self-regulation and reflection as they implement other strategies. An important aspect of this development is that students have multiple strategies at their disposal in order to determine which strategies work best in specific situations. Students who have not processed strategy effectiveness through attempting different strategies experience increased stress due to lack of options (Zimmerman 1986).

Review of the literature does not identify key strategies that are most effective as indicated in the review above. In fact Hattie (1996), indicates that strategies should be taught and implemented in context, use the tasks with related material to aid in generalization, and as mentioned previously engage students in metacognition and self-reflection about the efficacy of the strategy (Hattie and Yates 2013).

Potential Time Management Routines

  1. Goal-setting
    • Set long-term goals
    • Establish short-term goals that support long-term goals that align to time management/organization, like using the To-do list with a specific set of actions (5 before 10)
    • Monitor goal through intentional reflection/analysis
  2. Daily To-do Lists 
    • Learn to use them effectively by reflecting on usage during a unit of study and prior to the summative task. 
      • On-going reflection allows students to adjust practice or at least create a viable plan that may help them to better achieve their goals if needed. 
      • If students are on track to achieve their goals, this reflection can help build confidence they are influencing their success through their efforts. 
    • Learning to prioritize tasks (Eisenhower’s Urgent/Important Principle)
    • Paper lists versus computer tools
  3. Use of a calendar to organize activities
    • Laying out a month of activities
    • Monitoring progress
  4. Reflecting on effectiveness of tools
    • Weaknesses/Strengths of a tool
    • Keeping an activity log- Date/Time, Activity description, How I feel, Duration, Value (high, medium, low, none) to help analyze the effectiveness of the strategies you are using
  5. Reflecting on organization and cleanliness of workspaces
    • Students reflect on their own practices
    • Students set goals around classroom organization, when organization has caused a problem for the student (i.e. missed assignments, missing notebooks, etc.)
Time Management Routines in a mathematics classroom
  1. Students establish goals for each unit of study that reflect their aspirations, and help them problem solve situations that have arisen previously
    • Goal setting should include longer term goals (getting an A) for the class as well as shorter-term goals (unit goals) and routine goals (studying for vocabulary quizzes). 
    • Students establish expectations to help them achieve their goals
      • Establishing set times for studying
      • Create flashcards for each set of vocabulary words, with sentence, definition and word and study for 10 minutes/day on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
      • Work through problems on homework and when a problem I don’t know how to do appears, identify 1 thing I know about the problem and 1 thing I don’t understand yet. 
    • Students routinely reflect on progress towards their goals
  2.  Use a calendar to help students keep track of assignments, assessments. 
    • Have students keep track of assignments for each unit of study in a calendar or planner
      • Teach students to set appropriate reminders for longer-term assignments
      • Help students think through process for checking calendar and to-do list
    • Set aside 2-3 minutes at the end of class for students to review classroom assignments and mark progress toward tasks for the unit
    • Schedule time in class for students to reflect on their progress towards unit-goals. These checks can take as little as 5 minutes if they are intentionally designed, routine, and students have a chance to get feedback from a peer or teacher.  
    • Daily have students create to-do lists, monitor progress, and adjust 
    • Have a BB section in the classroom with reminder information and celebrations of students who have set specific goals and achieved them (use student pictures, attach their goals, attach the results)
    • Gamify results by allowing students to earn points toward badges for different skills in Time Management

Notes for Time Management Routine Development

These are just a few ideas for classroom time management routines. The specific routines that you implement will depend on the needs of your students and the curriculum that you are teaching.

  • Goal-setting: At the beginning of each unit or semester, have students set long-term goals for their learning. These goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Then, help students break down their long-term goals into smaller, more manageable short-term goals.
  • To-do lists: Teach students how to use to-do lists effectively. This includes learning how to prioritize tasks, estimate how long each task will take, and schedule time for each task.
  • Prioritize tasks: Help students learn how to prioritize their tasks using the Eisenhower Matrix. This matrix divides tasks into four categories: urgent and important, urgent but not important, not urgent but important, and not urgent and not important.
  • Use of a calendar: Teach students how to use a calendar to organize their activities. This includes learning how to block out time for important tasks, set deadlines, and make appointments.
  • Reflection: Encourage students to reflect on their time management practices on a regular basis. This can be done by keeping an activity log or by simply asking students to think about what they did well and what they could improve on.
  • Organization: Help students learn how to organize their workspaces. This includes learning how to declutter their desks, file their papers, and keep track of their belongings.

Here are some additional tips for teaching time management skills in the classroom:

  • Be explicit about the time management skills that you are teaching. Don’t assume that students know how to set goals, prioritize tasks, or use a calendar.
  • Provide regular opportunities for practice. The more students practice time management skills, the better they will become at using them.
  • Provide feedback. Help students identify their strengths and areas for improvement.
  • Be patient. It takes time to develop good time management skills. Don’t get discouraged if students don’t master these skills overnight.

By teaching time management skills in the classroom, you can help students improve their academic performance and reduce their stress levels.

Time Management Rubrics

Accomplished Evidence
Schedules and Strategies  Shows signs of organization and usually manages time well throughout the project, but may wait until last minute to turn in
Preparedness  Almost always brings needed materials to class and is ready to work. 
Focus on the task  Focuses on the task and what needs to be done most of the time. Sets time aside for reflection and is realistic. 
Attitude  Usually has a positive attitude about task(s) and is a positive influence on others. Rarely is publicly critical of task(s) or the work of others. 
In collaborative setting: 

Group Influence 

Group does not have to adjust deadlines or work responsibilities because this person’s generally has completed or almost completed tasks,


Exemplary Evidence
Schedules and Strategies  Routinely shows evidence of organizing work and uses time well throughout the project to ensure things get done on time.   
Preparedness  Brings needed material to class, reviews topic or materials ahead time and is always ready to work.   
Focus on the task  Consistently stays focused on the task and what needs to be done, and is very self-directed. Sets time aside for reflection and is realistic.  
Attitude  Always has a positive attitude about the task(s) and is influential in supporting others when applicable.   
In collaborative setting: 

Group Influence 

Fosters strong group supports and helps the group to meet deadlines with quality work.   


Rubric Analysis
Does the rubric relate to the key characteristics of Time-Management as being developed at _______ Schools? As they are implemented in your course?

Does the rubric cover important criteria for student performance?

Does the top end of the rubric reflect EXCELLENCE as defined by moving beyond the accomplished category to achieve the construct in a more efficient manner? 

Are the criteria and scales well-defined?

Can the rubric be applied consistently by different scorers?




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Campbell, R. L., et al. (1992). “Perceived level of stress among university undergraduate students in Edmonton, Canada.” Perceptual and Motor skills 75(2): 552-554.

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Entwistle, N. (1981). “Ramsden (1983).” Understanding student learning.

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Macan, T. H., et al. (1990). “College students’ time management: Correlations with academic performance and stress.” Journal of Educational Psychology 82(4): 760.

MacCann, C., et al. (2012). “Strategies for success in education: Time management is more important for part-time than full-time community college students.” Learning and Individual Differences 22(5): 618-623.

Mega, C., et al. (2014). “What makes a good student? How emotions, self-regulated learning, and motivation contribute to academic achievement.” Journal of Educational Psychology 106(1): 121.McKenzie*, K., et al. (2004). “Exploring first‐year academic achievement through structural equation modelling.” Higher Education Research & Development 23(1): 95-112.

Misra, R. and M. McKean (2000). “College students’ academic stress and its relation to their anxiety, time management, and leisure satisfaction.” American Journal of Health Studies 16(1): 41.

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