Study Skills – Time Management Activity

September 28, 2010 at 5:52 am 1 comment

Note: This activity is done in two parts, preferably a few weeks apart.

Part 1

Give your students a weekly calendar, showing 24 hour long blocks for each of the 7 days. (There are plenty of these available online, but you could make one in Excel or another spreadsheet pretty easily.) Ask your students to pencil in their “commitments”. This would include things like work, classes, volunteer activities, etc. Also ask them to pencil in regular events like meals, sleep, commuting, etc.

Next ask them to pencil in the times they would plan to study and do homework for their classes. Remind them of the college rule of 2-3 hours outside of class for each hour inside of class.

When your students come back the next day, ask them if they learned anything about their schedule from this calendar. In my experience, several students will remark that they didn’t realize they were so busy. I tell the class that if they had trouble squeezing in study time then they have probably over-committed themselves. This is a good time to discuss other time management related study issues: it’s a good idea to study as close to the end of class as possible, focus on difficult subjects first, being organized, etc.

I tell the class I will look over the calendars, and I discuss them with students throughout class for the next few days. However, I don’t return them in anticipation of Part 2.

Part 2

In a few weeks, I pretend like we have never done the first activity and hand out the same calendar. Except this time I tell my students that I want them to keep track of their time for one week. I ask them to write down everything they do: work, sleep, study, do homework, … In addition, I ask them to write down which class they are studying for or working on homework.

After the week ends we quickly talk about their time devoted to school. I ask whether they feel they made the most of their time. After a few minutes I hand back the calendar from Part 1 and ask the students to compare what they had planned to what they had actually done. I also ask if anyone changed their schedule dramatically since the first calendar. I find the discussion to be really valuable, not just for those doing the talking but also for those listening and picking up ideas.

I do collect the second calendar and look them over. I talk to students over the next week or so about my observations: who needs to spend more time, who needs to shift their study times, who is still over-committed, etc.


Time management is one area that most students need to improve. If you have any thoughts or tips on time management, or any activities that you use with your classes, I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share by leaving a comment, or reaching me through the contact page at my web site –


I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. Each Tuesday I post an article related to Math Study Skills on my blog. If there’s a particular study skill you’d like me to address, or if you have a question or a comment, please let me know. You can reach me through the contact page on my website –


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1 Comment Add your own

  • […] Today’s study skill blog is another spin-off of an idea that was discussed in my AMATYC workshop. It came from a group of 3 participants from Southwestern Michigan College (MI)  and Cecil College (MD). It is a different spin on my Weekly Calendar Activity that I previously blogged about. […]


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