5 Time Management Mistakes Students Make

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the year 2020 has seen drastic change. The set norm for a lot of sectors has changed. Chief among those affected is the Education sector.  Students’ time management mistakes will have a heavier impact.

Due to social distancing, numerous schools are now shifting to distance-learning. Distance learning will entail the use of online platforms for classes, and students’ schoolwork will now be completed strictly online.

Video conferencing will be the tool most often used for lectures. Email will be used for the distribution of materials. It’s not necessarily a bad way to solve the issue. But of course, everything comes at a price.

Distance learning was chosen to avoid the potential safety risks that come with the close proximity students keep at school. Additionally, the crowding in the corridors plus the enclosed physical spaces of classrooms are not ideal for the ongoing crisis. 

The problem is, a lot of students have a certain reliance on the physical triggers present in school.

The risks of distance learning

Now, students face other risks with their education. The distance from their teachers and classmates is going to have an impact on how they see and treat schoolwork. 

You can imagine how a student’s interest in the subject matter will be affected by this same decreased interaction with teachers and classmates.  

The students’ perceptions of school work and class instruction will be affected. Now, with less structure, time management will play a bigger part in how students approach their education.  

What does this mean? Poor study habits will not be so acceptable in the current situation. Students will need to develop good habits and adapt to these ongoing changes in order to do well.  

Do students even know what time management mistakes they’re making?

With that question in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 5 mistakes that students might make in time management. Fortunately, addressing these 5 points will have long-term benefits even after the pandemic. 

5 time management mistakes

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  1. Mismanagement of priorities

With distance learning, it might be difficult to find that sense of urgency. The physical triggers that students have relied upon will now be absent. 

Granted, the students’ parents or guardians will have their say in the matter. But whether or not this is effective, the problem will remain as long as there is a reliance on outside triggers. 

Students will need to find ways to be more empowered. This means learning to rely on themselves to manage priorities in their everyday life. Reliance on others will only make it harder for students to adapt in the future. 

Time management mistakes often begin here. With the distance to the learning source (and the proximity to video games), students will need to stay focused on their priorities. 

Start by writing everything down. The student can list out all their classes and whatever extracurriculars can be fit in. This will help to illustrate the problem at hand. 

With this list of classes, students can also list the schoolwork required for each class.  With a more organized approach, a proper identification of priorities will be easier to understand and implement.

And a student can even develop this further by assigning symbols to denote the importance of each task. Doing this will help visually assess their workload, and again, will be the best way to prioritize each task.  Managing a schedule will become much easier.  

With a visual aid, it will be easier to know what task is more important than the next task. Students will be able to see when a task needs to be addressed immediately. 

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  1. Procrastination

This one is a common problem for many and if a student had trouble before the crisis, chances are things are going to get worse. It is a dangerous habit if left unchecked. 

It’s not only students who face this problem. Even professionals, with years of experience and maturity, have the tendency to commit this time management mistake. 

The good thing is, there are ways to break the habit of procrastination for better time management!  One of them is setting solid, tangible goals that will lead to a desired achievement. And they don’t have to be drastic goals. 

The point is to help yourself approach the end-goal, step-by-step. Time management mistakes may happen but there are always workarounds.

Let’s say you have a 3,000 word paper on a historical event. This might seem like a lot for someone who isn’t used to writing. 

Thinking about it too much might even demotivate you to the point of not working on it at all. The problem arises when a student is simply overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do, in what they perceive is not enough time.

Set small goals first. With the example in mind, let’s say you have a week to do your work. You can set the first day’s goal to be researching the event. This might not even take long. 

The next day, try writing the outline for the paper. With the research already completed, this should be a much easier task. Then on the following day, write a few hundred words. And so on.  

With constant practice, students will find it easier to work in such a way. Forming the habit is the goal here. Getting things done in a timely (and less stressful) manner will be a thing of the past. 

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  1. Management of distractions

This time management mistake will be a handful. For students, focus is a commodity much needed. It doesn’t help that distance learning has them staying at home. 

Television, the internet, and video games are close at hand and can provide meaningless distractions. Add to that the distractions that come in the form of social media. With all these, time management mistakes

What exacerbates the situation is the fact that a lot of students will be relying on social media to communicate with each other. Schoolwork has often included group projects and distance learning won’t be exempt from that. 

The intentions may be innocent in this case, but certain distractions will arise from using social media platforms, among other risks.

Unfortunately, there’s no other way around this but to build discipline. Distractions are a problem when they prevent us from finishing important things first. 

It’s kind of similar to the mismanagement of priorities, but the difference here is that some distractions can be time-consuming but hold relatively little importance.

With this in mind, it is important to set a checklist. Students using checklists will be able to see what needs to be done before they can do anything else. 

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  1. Multitasking

Multitasking is a tempting method. Imagine being able to finish everything at the same time! 

The problem with this is, it’s often not the most productive approach. First and foremost to suffer will be the quality of your work.  In multitasking, you’re diverting your attention to multiple things. With less focus on the task, certain details will be missed. Yes, some people might get away with it, but only after years of experience. 

The thing is, some people can do it. They’re extremely familiar with most, if not all, the tasks they’re working on. With more experience, many routine aspects of tasks are readily addressed, with a need for very little attention to be diverted to each point.

Another reason that this can get risky is that it can be difficult telling how much time a task will need. It’s only too easy to assume a certain number of hours, only to run into problem after problem. 

The next thing you know, you’ll have half-baked outputs for a deadline the next day. That’s only one way this time management mistake can affect students.

The better option here would be to block time for each task; allotting a set amount of time to each task. 

This alleviates the riskiness of multitasking by giving you ample time for each task. Even if you run out of time, time blocking will allow you to set aside time for a final run-through. 

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  1. Thinking that “busy” means efficient

The greatest pretender of all. This time management mistake is not so easy to spot. A lot of students might think that just because they’re tired at the end of the day means that they were productive. Unfortunately, this is often not the case.  

Students use a simple rule; work hard. The fact of the matter is, there is a difference between working hard and working smart. 

While working hard is not necessarily a bad thing, efficiency may be suffering. That’s because the amount of time you spend on a task does not directly correlate to the quality of the output.

Work smart, and you’ll find that your tasks were finished efficiently and with quality. To help you with this, try setting milestones. 

Let’s take our earlier example. With a 3,000 word article due in one week, see how long it takes you. 

Set a milestone in the form of an outline. Measure the number of hours it takes you to finish that milestone using a timer. Only let the timer run when you’re working on that task.

You might be surprised by what you find. Sometimes, people spend 8 hours doing one thing. The thing is, that same task might have been finished within half (or less) of that time. 

This is something students should think about more often. With less time spent producing their outputs, they’ll have more time for their other things within the day. 

Tools for time management

Typing or writing everything down is a huge help. It keeps things in order and allows students to see everything in front of them. 

With practice, students can even come up with a system for identifying and organizing tasks. This practice will bring about an even better outcome as the student is learning to adapt well in the working environment.   

Luckily, a lot of apps that act as checklists and notepads are available for both PCs and smartphones. The PC versions don’t even need you to download a program. Everything will be available through the browser.

Here are a few examples of free apps that might help with short descriptions:


This one is a nifty app that sports a simple and clean look. The app allows users to assign subtasks for each task with reminders for each of them. Users can set the app to remind them of each task as well.

The main benefit of this app is organizing your tasks into projects. This allows users to organize tasks in a more refined manner.

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Todoist allows the sharing of tasks for easy team management. This has applications for group projects or task monitoring with teachers. 


This one is more of a note-keeping app. Evernote helps students organize their notes in notebooks on the app and can even assign tags to each note. That way, students can easily search for relevant notes. 

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Evernote will also allow the sharing of notes. This feature should help students working together. An added benefit is the built-in OCR scanner which lets you take photos of documents for immediate scanning.

Google Keep

Google’s simple note-keeping app. This one focuses on quick note-taking and also allows users to set reminders. 

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Users can include images in the notes. It even lets them include drawings or scribbles. Additionally, you can pin certain notes to make sure you catch them when you open the app.

You can set your notes like checklists to help you track your progress as well. It’s simpler than the rest but very reliable.


At the end of the day, students should remember to prioritize their health. The dangers of mismanaging time can often lead to all-nighters and frequent late-night sessions. Add to that the stress that will surely pester them.

This will only result in poor outputs and poor health. Neither of these are desirable in any situation. The point can only be to make sure that the student can perform, and perform well at that.

With all this said, it helps to know what’s important. The above tools might help students organize their thoughts in a more structured manner. But the computer is just a tool; the student must set their own priorities.

It takes practice and some habit-building. It may take some investment in time, but it’s one that will be worthwhile. These good practices can only benefit your future.