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Time Management Strategies for High School Students

Time Management Strategies for High School Students

Updated July 16, 2024

Many high school students struggle with fatigue, distractions and poor time management. However, with some coaching and a little professional advice, you can help them achieve their best. Working on time management skills will benefit them in the classroom and in their future roles as parents, employees and leaders.

As a role model, you have to strike a balance between offering help when they need it and keeping them from over-relying on your support. By working toward that balance and offering the right tips and tricks, your kids will be stellar students in no time. Below are some strategies you can teach them:

1. Work During Productive Hours

Like all of us, some students are early birds and others are night owls. If a student seems tired every morning, studying before school starts will likely hinder their retention. The same sentiment goes for kids who wake up each morning with an energized attitude. If they start their homework at night, they may not have anything left in the tank to complete their assignments — and actually learn from them.

Therefore, encourage students who are most active in the afternoon to start homework after school lets out. Make sure they have study snacks and plenty of hydration to fuel their brains. Alternatively, kids who wake earlier might have more success getting in an extra study session on the bus or in the cafeteria during breakfast. Coach them to avoid waiting until the morning to complete all of their assignments, even if they get sleepy after dinner.

2. Limit Distractions

It's no secret that social media is one of the biggest time-wasters for busy students, but some apps can help ease stress. For example, scrolling through cat videos on Instagram could help students go to their "happy place" while taking a break from work. In fact, 30% of young adults say that using social media in this way helps them feel less stressed and anxious. That said, you should still ask students to save relaxing social media time for short breaks between subjects. 

Here are some more strategies they can use to cut out the distractions:

  • Get an app that can block social media for set times.
  • Put the phone on silent.
  • Shut the phone off until it's time to take a break.
  • Work in a separate room from video games, television sets or other entertainment items.

3. Eliminate Stressful Interactions

A student might regularly view or engage in social media content that increases their stress, such as heated debates over passionate topics. Logging into their accounts might create more daily stress than they realize, which leads to emotional exhaustion. To get them focusing on homework, have a conversation about avoiding toxicity online.

Ask them to limit their engagement with social media content that gives them negative feelings. While students can log back into their accounts after they finish their work, they may decide to also limit it in their personal time when they realize how much better they feel. 

Other ways they can manage stress include:

  • Discuss problems with a trusted adult.
  • Count to 10 while focusing on a thought that makes them happy.
  • Schedule a specific timeframe for social media in a planner.

4. Create Time Blocks

Urge your students to think more about organizing their time. For example, using a planner to chunk assignments into neat time blocks will help them stay on task. Other things you can encourage them to do as they develop a reliable schedule include: 

  • Set regular breaks of about 10-15 minutes long.
  • Create blocks for subjects and other activities.
  • Separate study time from assignment time.
  • Make a list of procrastination habits to avoid.
  • Use different colored markers for various blocks.

5. Establish Daily Routines

Setting aside dedicated study time will ensure students stay caught up with their classes. Additionally, any students struggling in certain subjects should work with a tutor or participate in an instructor's afterschool homework assistance hours. Be sure to help them structure a routine that aligns with any extracurricular activities in which they participate, too.

Other routines they can make room for in a planner may include:

  • A fun weekly event or activity, like watching their favorite show.
  • Designated breaks for dinner and snacks.
  • Quick study breaks where they can research a topic they're currently interested in, like a certain president or Greek architecture.

You could also encourage students to try the Pomodoro Technique. This divides working times into digestible frames — four sets of active 25-minute working times, separated by four five-minute breaks. After every session, take a 30-minute break to recharge for the next session.

6. Get Plenty of Sleep

Many students are tempted to stay up late after long days of schoolwork, chores and extracurricular activities because they finally have some time to themselves. According to research conducted by The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, high school students require an average of 8-10 hours of sleep per night. To make sure they get a healthy amount of rest, make sure your kids:

  • Leave room for 8-10 hours of sleep in their schedules.
  • Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages before bed.
  • Get off of electronics around 30 minutes before they turn out the light.

7. Prioritize Important Tasks

When students dread an assignment, they tend to save it for last. Coach them to start with the assignment they expect to be the most difficult. This strategy will get the challenging work out of the way, and then they can focus on the subjects they like the most. Have them set priorities by:

  • Creating to-do lists in a planner and crossing off each assignment they finish.
  • Setting a time budget with estimates.
  • Rewarding themselves with breaks after finishing a subject.

8. Take Brain Breaks

It may seem counterintuitive, but working nonstop is a poor time management habit — students are more productive when they get enough rest to focus. Make sure they're taking breaks and have access to healthy snacks. If you notice a student doing homework from the moment they get home, that's a warning sign about their workload that you might want to discuss with instructors. A student who works until the moment they go to bed late at night might need tutoring assistance or less homework.

Some break time strategies are as follows:

  • Recharge with short breaks.
  • Have a quick reward, such as a favorite snack.
  • Set a break timer.

9. Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Most time management skills for high school students aim to foster their independence, but they also need your help to succeed. Sometimes, students are afraid to ask questions, feeling like a burden when they need help. Let them know you're there to figure out an assignment or how to work a problem with them.

While you're assisting them, guide them to pursue their own answers rather than showing them how to do each problem. Let them lead discussions about their homework, and encourage them to have confidence in their abilities as you offer suggestions. This way, you're giving them the help they need in a way that also helps them learn, so they won't need to ask again in the future.

10. Review Recent Successes

Some students might feel like they've failed if they deviate from the improvements they planned to make in their routines. For example, a student might take a much longer break than the timeframe marked in their planner. Perceived failures discourage them, causing them to fall back into bad habits. Try asking them to make small, manageable changes to their routine, so they can break from them without feeling guilty.

The same idea goes for poor performances on assignments. Often, students who receive a lower grade than usual take that as a sign they're not intelligent enough. Be sure to work through those situations with them by reminding them of past successes — maybe they won an award for a research paper they wrote, or they were at the top of the class in math last semester. Everyone has their ups and downs, and getting a bad grade can be an important learning experience with the right perspective.

Help Your Student Manage Their Time With a Planner From Success by Design

Alongside these essential time management tips, a year-long planner is an ideal tool for students who need to stay more organized. If you're a teacher helping your high school students learn productivity tips, Success by Design has several bulk options for classrooms. Contact our helpful team today so you can find the best planner for your students.

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  • SBD, Inc.