An Overview of Research on Time Management

Contents of this section are compiled by Kaveh Farrokh (Ph.D.), Counsellor & Learning Specialist at Langara College Counselling Department.


Time management is a critical skill for student success in the post-secondary setting. Despite its importance as a student success tool, there has only been a modest amount of research studies on students’ use of time management. Nevertheless, studies conducted thus far in the domain have yielded practical and significant findings.

Adjustment to Post-Secondary Learning

An Irish study (Gibney, Moore, Murphy & O’Sullivan, 2011) found that it is important to acknowledge the anxieties that students have with respect to entering first year university courses. Additionally, it is important to understand students’ beliefs about their abilities and their confidence in managing their role as learners in a post-secondary setting. Time management is a critical success tool for students to cope with the stress of post-secondary academic demands.

The impact of Time Management on Academic Performance and Stress Management

Nonis, Hudson, Logan and Ford (1998) conducted a comprehensive study on 164 post-secondary students with respect to their perception of control over time and their stress levels. The results of this study can be classified into three overall findings:

(1) the researchers found a significant relationship between a sense of high control over time (management) and low stress.

(2) students reporting a high sense of control over their time management also reported higher levels of problem–solving ability and academic performance.

(3) reports of high control or efficacy with respect to time management were strongly linked to enhanced mental and physical health.

Put simply effective time management results in not only more effective academic performance and problem-solving abilities but also reduced stress and better overall health.

A British study by Trueman and Hartley (1996) examined the relationship between time-management and academic performance with respect to three groups of first-year psychology students (total of 293 students) in the University of Keele in Newcastle, England: (a) traditional-entry students (less than 21 years of age) (b) mature students (between 21-25 years of age) and (c) older mature students (over 25 years of age). The instrument used to measure competency in time management was a British version of a US time-management scale. There were four significant finds in this study:

(1) Older mature students (over 25 years of age) were significantly more effective in their time management skills than the other two groups (aged below 25 and 21 years). They were also more likely to make use of time-management strategies than the other groups.

(2) Women students were more effective overall in their time management skills than their male counterparts.

(3) Age as an independent factor was only a modest predictor of academic performance.

(4) Academic performance was predicted by only one component of the time-management scale: the “Confidence in Long-Term Planning scale”.

The above scale was specifically related to performance in exam-taking, course-work and academic performance in general. Put simply, it would appear that long-term planning with respect to time management does have a significant impact on the successful completion of assignments and exam performance.

Trueman and Hartley theorize that students with good time-management skills spend less time to achieve their academic objectives than students with poor time management. As a result, students with better time management often have more time left over for other non-academic activities.

Is “Studying More” an Effective Strategy?

Effective time management however is often assumed to be a case of “studying more leads to better marks”. “More” however is not necessarily “better”. A study by Jacob and Leonesio for example discovered that increasing students’ raw amount of study time does not result in them having better learning and recall. By learning we are specifically referring to accurate learning of specific concepts important for course/test performance.

Jacob and Leonesio also found that when students were told to master every (learning) item and given virtually unlimited study time to do this, they often terminated their studying before their learning goals were accomplished.

These results imply that one of the characteristics of effective time management is to set clear learning goals before engaging in studying. The student sets a time limit, which of course can be flexible, with respect to how much time They judge is necessary for learning X-amount of concepts.


Gibney, Moore, Murphy, & O’Sullivan, (2011). The first semester of university-life: ‘will I be able to manage it all?’ High Educ, 62, pp. 351-366.

Nelson, T.O., & Leonesio, R.J. (1988). Allocation of self-paced study time and the “Labor–in-Vain Effect”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, Vol. 14, No.4, pp. 676-686.

Nonis, S.A., Hudson, G.I., Logan, L.B., & Ford, C.W. (1998). Influence of perceived control over time on college students’ stress and stress-related outcomes. Research in Higher Education, Vol. 39, No.5, pp.587-605.

Trueman, M., & Hartley, J. (1996). A comparison between the time-management skills and academic performance of mature and traditional-entry university students. Higher Education, Vol.

Comments are closed.