4.5 How to Manage Time


  • How can I use time-on-task estimates to improve time management?
  • What behaviours can help or hinder when it comes to managing time?

How to Manage Time

The simplest way to manage your time is to accurately plan for how much time it will take to do each task, and then set aside that amount of time. How you divide the time is up to you but there will be some more information on this in Chapter 10 on Studying.

Fanshawe College Online Due Dates to Your Phone

There are a variety of tools that can help you organize your time.  Specifically, downloading the Brightspace PULSE app to you phone. This app connects to Fanshawe Online and IF your professor has set a due date in your FOL calendar, your phone will alert you to upcoming due dates.

Spend some time learning how to set up notifications in Fanshawe Online so that you can get alerts for when grades are posted or feedback published. Click on your profile picture and then notifications to learn more.

CAUTION: Technology is only a tool to help, it is not smart!  You are responsible for developing a strategy that works for you!

Knowing Yourself

While you can find all sorts of estimates online as to how long a certain task may take, it is important to know these are only averages. People read at different speeds, people write at different speeds, and those numbers even change for each individual depending on the environment.

If you are trying to read in surroundings that have distractions (e.g., conversations, phone calls, etc.), reading 10 pages can take you a lot longer than if you are reading in a quiet area. By the same token, you may be reading in a quiet environment (e.g., in bed after everyone in the house has gone to sleep), but if you are tired, your attention and retention may not be what it would be if you were refreshed.

However, this is not a simple task. Let look at reading for example. The time you need to read something can vary greatly depending on:

  • how familiar you are with the topic already
  • how complex the reading/writing is
  • your purpose for reading it (for a test, general understanding, to teach it to someone else, etc.)

Ultimately, the only way you are going to be able to manage your time accurately is to know yourself and to know how long it takes you to do each task.

What Students Have to Say

“To manage my time, I work backwards.  When I find out about a due date for an assignment, I make a list of all the parts that need to be done to complete it.  I start with the due date/time and work backwards, creating my own deadline for when each part needs to be done.  When I create my schedule to complete something, I also factor in how long I work out per day and my work schedule.”

Collin Locke – Fanshawe College – College Orientation and Success, 2023.

Tips for Staying Focused and Motivated


Many people are not truly aware of how they actually spend their time. They make assumptions about how much time it takes to do certain things, but they never really take an accurate account.

Write down all the things you think you will do tomorrow, and estimate the time you will spend doing each. Then track each thing you have written down to see how accurate your estimates were.

Obviously, you will not want to get caught up in too much tedious detail, but you will want to cover the main activities of your day—for example, working, eating, driving, shopping, gaming, being engaged in entertainment, etc.

After you have completed this activity for a single day, you may consider doing it for an entire week so that you are certain to include all of your activities.

Many people that take this sort of personal assessment of their time are often surprised by the results. Some even make lifestyle changes based on it.

Activity Estimated Time Actual Time
Practice Quiz 5 minutes 15 minutes
Reading 20 minutes 35 minutes
Food shopping 45 minutes 30 minutes
Bus to and from school 40 minutes 60 minutes
Netflix 1 hour 3 hours

3.4 How to Manage Time” from College Success  by Amy Baldwin & Open Stax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License 


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Fanshawe SOAR Copyright © 2023 by Kristen Cavanagh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.