7 time management skills for students studying abroad

Student studying outside the Teesside University ISC

What is time management?

Time management is the coordination of tasks and activities to efficiently utilise an individual’s time and productivity. The main purpose of time management skills is to allow people to get more, and better, work done in less time. Good time management also allows you to make sure you have enough time to do everything that needs to be done. This can include work, household chores and socialising.

Why time management is important for students 

Time management is an important skill for international students during their university studies. Student life is often very busy, filled with lectures, studying, assignments and socialising. The need for effective time management skills is essential when it comes to finding a balance between your social life and studying your degree.

Good time management skills help you do better work in less time. Improving these skills will allow you to keep focused, lower your stress levels towards particular tasks and potentially learn new skills. Your work will become more fulfilling, and you will remain energetic and motivated towards your studies. 

A large part of studying abroad is exploring new cultures and experiences. It is also about living independently, which comes with responsibilities. To have time to do all these things, you will need to keep on top of your work and study through excellent time management. 

7 time management tips for students studying abroad

Plan and set goals

One of the best time management tips for students is planning and setting goals. This is one of the most fundamental components of time management. Identifying what needs to be done, and when, will allow you to keep to a schedule and your goals will be most effective when set against a deadline. These can be hourly, daily, weekly or monthly, choosing the time period will depend on the urgency of the task.

Prioritise your tasks and create a schedule

Prioritisation is part of the planning process and is an important time management skill to have. It involves assessing the importance and urgency of your tasks.  

A large part of prioritisation is the ability to be adaptable while remaining realistic. It is important to know your limits. Don’t take on too much at once and be prepared to take a different approach if things are not going to plan.  

Creating a schedule is how you will bring your planning and prioritisation skills together. In your schedule you should include the tasks, responsibilities and other activities that need your focus. These do not need to only relate to your university study, you can also include day-to-day activities and down time to fully utilise and plan your time.

The most important part of having a schedule is making sure you keep to it. To do this, it is essential you set yourself realistic goals that are easily completed in the timeframe. 

It is a good idea to review your schedule at the end of the day to determine whether you are still on track and if any alterations need to be made. 

Determine your productive time

Understanding when you are most productive is one of the best time management tips for college students. If you are aware of when you are most likely to get high quality work done, you can plan your daily goals around this time. 

Procrastination is one of the biggest problems students face when it comes to time management. A great way to tackle this is to find something that fills you with motivation while you work, some people find music to be great for focus while others find use in productivity methods such as the Pomodoro technique. 

The Pomodoro technique is where you work on a task for 25 minutes then take a five-minute break. You complete this cycle four times and then take a longer 20–30-minute break before beginning the whole process again depending on how long you are working for. 

The technique is effective as it allows you to break your work down into smaller tasks and limits open-ended work such as studying and research by giving them a time restriction. It also tackles procrastination as you know when and how long you must work, therefore boosting your motivation to get tasks done.  

One task at a time 

Tackling one task at a time is one of the best time management techniques for students as it ensures you are using your time effectively. Focusing on multiple tasks can often cause a loss of productivity and valuable time due to the switching between tasks causing you to lose concentration. 

Setting impractical goals, that you know you will not realistically complete, is never a good idea. It is likely you will become frustrated with the task and lose all motivation to work. Cutting down your projects and assignments into smaller tasks with short-term deadlines is a great way to ensure greater focus and concentration.  

Focused work improves productivity, motivation and focus, which leads to faster task completion of a high-quality standard. 

Limit distractions and interruptions

One of the best time management strategies for college students would be to limit any distractions and interruptions. Student accommodation at Teesside University gives students private spaces, away from interruptions and distractions, where they can focus on their studies.

Social media is one of the biggest causes of distractions when it comes to productivity. To eliminate this problem there are productivity apps you can download which limit the time you can spend scrolling online. 

Another great way of limiting distractions is to use these concentration-breaking activities as a reward for completing tasks. 

Refresh, then restart 

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to managing your time effectively is to take breaks when needed. The best way of doing this is the refresh, then restart method. 

If you feel you are becoming overwhelmed or bored with the work you are doing, take a short break and do something that refreshes your mind such as reading a book, listening to music or taking a short walk.


One of the most useful break activities is a moderate workout. Exercising will make you feel more energised and the resulting blood circulation in your brain will allow you to work better and stay more focused. 

If you are looking for further guidance, get in touch with our student enrolment advisors. They will be able to expertly advise you on how to make the most of your time and will help with any questions you may have. 


What is a common time management mistake? 

One of the biggest mistakes people make with time management is not being realistic about how much they can get done. Understanding your limits is one of the most important parts of managing your time efficiently. 

What is effective time management? 

Effective time management is the ability to use your time efficiently by getting higher quality work done in less time. There are many time management techniques to help you use your time better such as setting goals, prioritisation and limiting distractions. 

Why do students struggle with time management?

With so many new experiences and things to do, it is often the case that students become distracted or procrastinate from doing work. This is something that can easily be fixed by creating a work schedule and breaking down projects into smaller tasks.