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Time management traps: 3 school tasks that sneakily consume your time

By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.

True time management involves getting in control of WHAT you’re doing (tasks, assignments, commitments, etc.) and WHEN you’re going to do it.

To implement a good time management system, you need to be constantly evaluating what needs to get done and when you plan to do it. The two pieces must fit together perfectly. If you have too many things to do and not enough time, then you need to do fewer things or get more focused during the times you are working.

In this blog post, I’m going to share common time management traps that I see students make all the time. I share the top three school tasks that take up the most time during the week, but for some reason students ignore them.

Time management traps: 3 school tasks that sneakily consume your time

If you’re sick of feeling like you never have enough time to finish all your school things, you might be falling for the time management trap of unintentionally ignoring how much time it takes to do 3 primary tasks: read, study and work on long-term projects.

1. Reading

The first school task that students significantly underestimate is reading. Whether reading chapters in novels for ELA class, textbook chapters for chemistry, or short stories for Spanish, academic reading takes a long time. (Here are my best tips for reading hard books.)

I can’t even tell you how many times per week that I hear students say “I don’t have any homework. I just have to read.” And then my head pops off.

Reading is the homework. When planning out your week (using Google Calendar, of course), you can’t pretend that reading isn’t an actual assignment. It is. In fact, reading assignments often take longer to complete than “submittable” assignments like worksheets and problem sets – so we need to treat them that way.

Here’s a tip: The next time you sit down to read for school, set a timer and see how long it takes you to read a page. Once you calculate your minutes-per-page pace, you’ll be able to better estimate how long it will take you to read multiple pages or chapters. 

For example, if it takes you two minutes to read one page, and you’ve been assigned 25 pages for homework, you know that the assignment will take 50 minutes. And that’s without stopping or annotating! 

Now do you see, from a time management perspective, why you can’t pretend reading assignments aren’t “real homework”?

2. Working on microtasks for long-term assignments

Another time management trap students fall for is forgetting to plan for the time it takes to complete the microtasks of long-term assignments. This is a huge mistake and leads to feeling stressed and overwhelmed. 

For example, if you have an essay due in five days, there are a series of microtasks that need to happen between now and the deadline. You need to write your thesis, do your research, write an outline, write a draft, and then revise it before submitting it. You would likely complete each of these tasks over the course of the five days. 

So what’s the time management strategy? To view each of these tasks as an actual homework assignment – even though, technically, the essay was the only thing your teacher assigned.

So before you convince yourself that you have no homework, make sure you’re not forgetting the “invisible” homework of making progress toward your larger assignments. That’s the key to getting the assignments done on time, without procrastination and stress.

3. Studying

“I have no homework. I just have to study.” This is another one that pops my head off when I hear it – and I hear it a lot. 

The most effective way to study is to plan out multiple study sessions using spaced repetition. Spaced repetition requires at least a few days (ideally at least a week) to implement, which means that you should be studying for between 15-45 minutes a day, depending on the material. 

You need to write these study sessions into your assignment notebook as if they are actual homework assignments (because they are). You also need to write this time into your daily or weekly schedule like it’s an appointment. If you don’t, then you’ll find yourself studying for tests only the night before, which causes so much stress and does not work.

Here is my awesome free study planner you can download and print (or use digitally!). Did I mention it’s free?

A final note about time management traps for students

Here is a list of more common time management mistakes that I see students make. At the risk of sounding dramatic, I assure you that falling for even one of these time management traps can mess up your day, affect your grades, and cause anxiety. 

I know that “time management” can seem like a vague term that teachers and parents throw at you more often than you like. But if we’re being honest here, having a functional time management system is one of the most important school habits (and life habits!) you could ever have. For real.

The post Time management traps: 3 school tasks that sneakily consume your time appeared first on SchoolHabits.

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