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Time management

Good time management means making the optimum use of your time. You can achieve this by setting priorities, planning realistically and sticking to your plans.

Setting priorities

The best way to set priorities is by determining which tasks are important and which are urgent.



Not important


Highest priority, do right away.

Plan for the end of the day when highest priority matters have been dealt with.

Not urgent

Plan when to do them. Don’t postpone them too long.

This is not urgent and can be postponed until a quieter time.

Planning realistically

The next step is planning the highest priority tasks. Different study activities require different investments of time. You can only plan well if you know how much time an activity takes. If you are often short of time it’s a good idea to log your daily activities for a week and see how much time you spend on each. You can do this via toggl.com for example.

Once you have an idea of how much time specific tasks take you can make an effective working plan. Your plan should follow the SMART guidelines: 


Sticking to your plan

A plan will only work if you are self-disciplined and stick to it. Do what you have resolved to do and adjust your planning if things take more time than expected. If you tend to put things off take a look through the following tips on how to avoid procrastination. If you need more advice the student psychologists would be happy to help.

Ten tips for avoiding procrastination



1. Make a clear written plan with an overview of all your study-related and other activities.

1. Just rely on vague plans such as ‘I have to pass this exam’ and ‘I’ll see how it goes’.

2. Set priorities for your study-related and other activities.

2. Rely on unclear and unrealistic strategies like ‘just study everything’ and ‘catch up on everything.’ 

3. Decide how much time you need then make a realistic schedule.

3. Assume without thinking it through that you have plenty of time or that you can easily do the things you need to do in too short a time.

4. Think about your performance realistically. Find out what works and do more of that!

4. Attribute your achievements to luck, help from others, etc. 

5. Build your confidence based on facts; be pleased about your successes and build on them.

5 Constantly doubt your abilities and look for outside affirmation.

6. Set a time and start your work then (as you would in a job).

6. Say “I’ll start tomorrow”.

7. Get down to work, no matter how you feel about it.

7. Wait for inspiration or until you “feel like it”.

8. Face your mistakes and learn from them.

8. Blame yourself if you don’t succeed right away.

9. Overcome the habit of avoiding things, even if they make you anxious, and get on with what you need to do. You will learn that the stress lessens and you can handle the study load

9. Avoid starting work because you are afraid of failing.

10. Reward yourself when you are doing well

10. Make yourself dissatisfied by constantly thinking of all the things you still need to do.

GezondeBoel: free self-help programmes

GezondeBoel offers free online self-help programmes on time management:

  • Self-management for students
  • Scheduling and structure
  • Too much social media
  • Busy and distracted (in Dutch)
  • A focussed start (in Dutch)
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