How to Effectively Manage Your Time

An image of a clock and a calendar with pins and sticky notes on itWritten by: Emily Passfield, 4th Year Psychology 

Photo by: tatomm on Adobe Stock

In first-year, I found that the biggest shock to my study habits was having to enforce self-regulation. It took until my third year for me to realize that my study habits wouldn’t miraculously improve without conscious effort, so I reached out to my therapist and asked for help with planning. It wasn’t easy at first, but over time I was able to master the art of scheduling—which I’m about to pass on to you.  

Create a Physical Schedule: 

I don’t mean working out (unless you want to, I won’t stop you), but I mean something that you can see as opposed to just a mental plan. I use a day planner now (you can get them at Chapters, Indigo, Walmart, or almost anywhere), but what I used initially was an excel sheet. I made 3 columns, the first being priorities, the second being leisure activities, and the third being leisure activities involving going out or hanging out with friends. I found it really important (at least for me) to separate leisure activities that just involved free time from activities that involved me having to get ready to go out or spend money. Another way to think of the columns is priorities, free time, and “free” (spending money) time. For example, one day in my plan would look like this during the school year: 





10:00 AM 

Morning Routine 




Dog Park 



11:00 AM 




12:00 PM 

Psych Assignment 



1:00 PM 

Psych Assignment 



2:00 PM 

Lunch Break



3:00 PM 


Free Time 


4:00 PM 

English Essay 



5:00 PM 

English Essay



6:00 PM 




7:00 PM 


Get Ready 


8:00 PM 


Meet up with Friends 


9:00 PM 



Go out

Despite me having scheduled for around 2 years now, I still plan my days hour by hour. I will plan out what I need to do the night before and leave it on my desk to review when I wake up the following day. It’s helpful to schedule exact times in advance to make sure your daily goals are realistic and that you don’t neglect other aspects of your life. For example, one week I planned out my days and realized that I had severely underestimated the amount of homework I had left to complete, so I had to adjust the days I went out by moving them until the following week.

Colour Coding: 

The beauty of scheduling is that YOU decide when and how you live your life. It allows you to become independent and take control of your studies while still having some predetermined guidelines. At the end of every day prior to me completing my schedule for the following day, I go in with a different colour and write the actual times I spent completing each task. After a few weeks of doing this, the amount of edits will become increasingly uncommon. You will also realize that you have far more free time than you would have initially expected.  


University classes may seem like a shock initially, but with proper planning, your chances of success are high. After mastering the art of planning, I was able to increase my overall average by 22% between second and third year, which allowed me to qualify for the Master's program I had planned on pursuing in high school. Since I was barely passing the first few years, I had completely given up on this dream and just planned on passing my undergrad and hoping that I got a good job out of luck. Now (assuming I continue to apply myself) I have the grades required to continue moving forward with my original plans.  

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