Ask a Nerd!

Q: It is impossible to manage my schedule. How can I do everything at once?

Brief: You are not alone in this feeling. Many high school students feel completely overwhelmed with their academic schedule (READ: “Coping with Stress as a Teen“) but it is not impossible, it only seems impossible because multi-tasking and time management are new skills. However, these skills can be learned over time and with practice.



I’m guessing that you have college prep study (SAT or ACT), AP classes, a private Irvine tutor (don’t wait too late in the school year to book your academic tutor), and one of the following: sports, arts or music, or a part time job. You get home from school by 3:30 and, to get eight hours of sleep, you need to be in bed by 10 PM on school nights. That leaves you about six hours to manage until it’s time to get ready for bed. Take away one hour for dinner and you have five hours left.

The first thing you should do is prioritize.

Unless you are in the running for an athletic scholarship, academics should be your top priority (READ: “How to Balance Sports and Academics“).

When you arrive home from school get yourself a snack, this will keep your energy levels up and prevent fatigue. Find a place to study that has little to no distractions. If you study in your room or at the library, I bet you will find that you can shave off 30 minutes of homework time. Shut off your phone and stay away from any and all social media sites while you are completing your homework, this will also increase productivity.

Try using organizational apps to help remind you of your schedule.

If you have a tutor for AP or SAT/ACT (READ: “A Timeline Study Guide for the SAT“), spend 10 minutes preparing for the session ahead of time. If your tutor is helping you with organization, you can wait to do this until s/he arrives. You can also ask your tutor to organize your schedule at the beginning of each month.


After your tutor leaves (you have already saved over an hour by having a tutor work with you in your home) have another small snack or break for dinner. You should also do some sort of movement activity to keep you focused. It can be a 1⁄2 mile walk, some yoga or anything that works for you.

Sports are also on the top of many students’ schedules. If you get home later due to sports, your study schedule will be pushed back and you will likely have to give up your after-dinner relaxation time to study. Think of your sports time as your recreational time. If you don’t enjoy your sports activities, think about talking to your parents about what is most important to you at this time in your high school career.

If you want or need to have a part time job, consider taking shifts only on the weekends or keeping your shifts to one or two week days. Saturday is also a great day to get caught up with study or even to stay ahead.

Additional tips:

– Avoid any and all electronic distractions during study time

– Turn your phone to silent and put it in a drawer in another room

– Avoid YouTube, Facebook etc. (Need help? Try downloading a self-control app like SelfControl)

– Let your friends know that you will not be available to chat during study time

– Talk to your parents about distractions and ask to do your chores after you finish your homework

– Download an organizational app to help you keep on track (READ: “5 Back to School iPhone Apps to Keep Students Organized“)

– Keep a regular schedule; frequent changes can become overwhelming

– Ask your tutor to help you organize as part of your session

– Prioritize your schedule for the entire term; some goals will need to be met by tomorrow while others aren’t due until the end of the term

– Don’t leave assignments until the last minute; if something is due in three weeks, create a timeline of study activities

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