Last Updated 12 Mar 2023

The Importance of Time Management for the Adult Learner

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Time management is a critical skill that is needed in many different aspects of life. We need to manage our time while caring for our family at home, while at work and also for any other hobbies or interests, such as college. The typical college student is no longer the teenager who just graduated high school. A large majority of college students are considered adult learners. The adult learner is someone who enrolls in college later in life as an adult with more responsibilities. As an adult college student there are far more challenges than as a teenage college student.

The majority of adult students blame the reason why they struggle in school or delay going back to school is time restriction (Arthur & Tait, 2004, p. 2). Time management is the key to success for an adult enrolled in college. Time management, as defined by Oxford Dictionaries is, “the ability to use one’s time effectively or productively; especially at work” (“Time Management,” 2013).

It is not only crucial to use time effectively and productively in the workplace but also at home, in school and any other tasks that take up time in the day. C. Shields (1994) describes time management as, “The art of balancing your efforts, prioritizing what you could do as opposed to what you should do. It requires you to make choices and postpone short-term gratification for long-term gains. Managing your time means overcoming the bad habits that allow you to put off what needs to be done. It means controlling yourself” (p. 93). It is important to maximize available time and find a balance between home, work and school. The best way to maximize available time is to plan all that you can (Shields, 1994, p. 95).

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Planning out your time in advance will help the adult student look ahead to what time is available for all of their responsibilities. The use of a monthly calendar and day to day planner are useful tools (Shields, 1994, p. 95). It is important to find a balance with all the responsibilities and activities an adult student may have. According to Ashby and Abbot in the article, Too Little Time to Learn “mature adult students often find it difficult to cope with the various personal and work related demands made on time available for study and professional development” (Ashby & Abbot, 1999, p. 3).

The fact is there are only twenty four hours in a day. One person can only do so much with their personal time (“Time Management for Adult Learners” 2005). Realistically a person needs approximately eight hours to rest, most working people spend approximately eight to nine hours at work, leaving eight hours for other daily demands (Tait & Arthur, 2004, p. 3). The last eight hours available are what need to be utilized for family, school and other interests. This can be done effectively if the adult learner is motivated. If an adult learner is not motivated to manage their time the likelihood of success is decreased.

Ineffective time management can cause many things to go incomplete or get turned in late, increase stress on the adult student, and overall may cause the student to give up. Effective time management can increase the student’s motivation and success, reduce their stress level, and increase their sense of fulfillment (Girard, 1999). Managing a family and working towards a degree of higher education can be very demanding. It is important to have the support of your spouse, children and loved ones while working towards a degree (Shields, 1994, p. 90).

Men and women play different roles in the household. According to Charles Shields, “the more the traditional roles and responsibilities within the family, the greater the guilt the woman experienced about her student role,” (Shields, 1994, p. 90). Generally, female students feel more pressure and strain then male students due to the society’s stereotypical idea of roles in a family (Shields, 1994, p. 90). The biggest adjustment may be that as a student you will not be as available as before due to the demands of school work. Family time will be affected but worth it in the end.

It can be difficult to find the support needed; therefore it is important to emphasize the benefits of a higher education to yourself first. If the student believes in himself or herself then it will be easier to convince the family to believe in him or her. In most cases, the family and children will benefit from a spouse and/or parent with a college education. It is important as the demands of school, work and family increase the adult learner reminds themselves of that (Shields, 1994, p. 92). Compromise is another important characteristic needed from all involved.

The student needs to make everyone aware that compromise is needed to succeed. Ideally the partner or spouse will need to take on the extra tasks and details that the adult learner will not have time for. Also explaining to the kids involved the mommy or daddy will not have as much available time as they use to and it will not last forever. It is important to share the end goal with the family that way everyone is aware of what the student is working towards and what the reward will be in the end. It can be difficult to study at home with a family there.

Planning ahead and preparing an ideal study spot can help make studying easier (“Time Management for Adult Learners” 2005). If studying needs to take place at home, getting up early before everyone is awake or staying up after everyone goes to bed can be helpful, that way distractions are limited. Also giving the adult student a time out from the family will help obtain some time for studying (“Time Management for Adult Learner” 2005). It is important to take every opportunity available to study even if it’s not the ideal situation because it is not always going to be easy to arrange time for it (Arthur & Tait, 2004, p.7).

Another time demand that can be a challenge for an adult learner is balancing work and school. In today’s career world more and more companies are looking to hire competent people with a college education. This leaves little choice for someone who wants to compete in the competitive job field without a higher level of education. Also many returning students go back to school for the purpose of career advancement. Completing your program of study is a step forward on your career path (Shields, 1994, p. 117). Finding the time to study for classes and work on assignments can be difficult with a part time or full time job.

The pressures and time consumption from a job compete heavily with the time available for learning (Arthur & Tait, 2004, p. 3). According to Sargant (2000), “Employment status plays a major role in learning opportunities. For many people, the workplace provides resources and opportunities to take up learning and often the motivation to learn” (p. 4). A suggestion to make the time constraint more manageable between school and a career is to inform your job of what your goals are and if they can better the company.

If your career is looking to hire the most qualified and educated employees, they may be willing to work on a different schedule. Planning ahead and looking into career advancement can motivate the adult learner when completing college classes. There are many tips and tools that an adult learner can use to help manage their time. The first step is to list all of the assignments and tasks that need to get done and prioritize the list (“Time Management for Adult Learner” 2005). Start with the most important task and proceed through the list to the least important.

It can also be helpful to start with the most time consuming task, ensuring it will be completed (Fry, 2012, p. 5). As an adult leaner it is important to know how long it will take to perform certain tasks or complete assignments. It will make estimating the appropriate amount of time needed easier and more accurate (Fry, 2012, p. 6). A to-do list can help prevent procrastination and keep a student on track (Fry, 2012, p. 6). Move forward unfinished tasks to the next day. This will create continuity between one day and the next (Shields, 1994, p. 94).

Once a to-do list is created, the next step is incorporate it into a day to day calendar and a monthly planner. An important aspect of time management is to plan ahead. Incorporating every assignment, appointment and activity that requires the student’s time is essential. This will allow the student to know what needs to be done and to budget time accordingly (Shields, 1994, p. 94). Once the planning stage has been completed it will be important for the student to stay on track with the plan. Keeping the end goal in mind will help the learner stay focused.

It is important to maintain realistic goals and to share the goals with others. Involving others in your efforts towards time management can help motivate them to help you succeed (Shields, 1994, p. 99). As the adult learner takes on more and more it will be important for the student to delegate (Chang, 2013, p. 28). One person cannot be expected to do it all, therefore ask for help and think about what you don’t need to do (Shields, 1994, p. 99). It is always ok to ask for help. According to Chang (2013), “it is better to say no, rather than yes and not be able to complete something.”

“Setting boundaries gives a solid foundation to focus on your priorities while minimizing distractions” (p. 28). Saying no to someone or something is all part of effective time management. The last tip in managing time as an adult learner is reward oneself. Setting and achieving small goals throughout the process of obtaining a college degree can be beneficial towards motivation and dedication. According to Shields (1994), “It is important to work when you are supposed to work and play when you deserve it or need it” (p. 100). In conclusion, an adult learner has more demands and responsibilities than the typical college student.

The adult college student has to find time for an education, career and family. It can be difficult to find a balance between all three, but with proper time management it can be done. There are many tools available to the adult student to stay motivated while properly managing time such as planning ahead, creating a to-do list and creating a calendar. Keeping your family and employer involved in your goals can help as well. All of the information in this paper will be beneficial to an adult enrolling in college. Once again, the key to success as an adult learner is proper time management.

Accountability, Uniformity and Time Management

Accountability doesn't just mean showing up on time. It means responsibility. It means that if i fail my small part of the mission (to be on time), i must be held liable for my failure. Accountability also reflects the responsibility the unit has over each and every person in the unit. Everyone is required to report for duty so that the commander can verify that he/she has all the unit personnel accounted for.If i don't show up and nobody notices, the commander reports 100% accountability, but no one notices that i am not physically accounted for, they may find me some time later and be uncertain of what to think because they did not know i was not physically present, which puts the unit and the unit commander at risk for some evasive action. if there are times that i must be late then i should inform someone so that i can be accounted for. Which could also tie in with uniformity.What is the importance of uniformity, dress right dress, and discipline in the army? the importance of uniformity is to make everyone become and look equal. there are no differences between us, no separation because we are all a team. what is the point of uniformity, when a whole platoon is uniformed it shows accountability, responsibility, discipline and being in uniform is one of the things that is part of the foundation of the army.

Without uniformity there cannot be discipline, and then it turns into a chain reaction and destroying the foundation of the army. being in uniformity shows soldiers how they can do things together and how working together, we as people can do anything we want to accomplish. it also teaches soldiers that uniformity also shows responsibility that when things are disorganized nothing ever gets done, but when there are no differences holding back from completing the mission anything can be done 110%.

Everything needs discipline in order to be successful and uniformity, not only in dress code allows for working in harmony to get things done right and in a timely manner. Speaking of timeliness, personal time management skills are essential for professional success in any workplace. Those able to successfully implement time management strategies are able to control their workload rather than spend each day in a frenzy of activity reacting to crisis after crisis - stress declines and personal productivity soars!

These highly effective individuals are able to focus on the tasks with the greatest impact to them and to the organization, which help to make them more successful in the end then those who have poor time management skills. In writing this essay the importance and purpose of these three words have become clearer to me. We need accountability, uniformity and time management in everything we do in order to be successful and efficient in all things we undergo.

Read also: Time Management

How Students Can Improve Their Self-Discipline and Time Management Skills


Time management, although its term may be a misnomer, is about managing your time with a focus on achievement: of doing and completing those things which you want to do and which need doing. (Adair, J., Thomas, N. 2004, p.4). A good time management strategy can be accompanied by a range of techniques in managing time when accomplishing a certain task or goals within a due date.

There are many types of students around the world ranging from preschooler to full time studies to working adults, including myself, studying part time courses. Students tend to procrastinate and get distracted from focusing their work. Therefore, it is important for students to manage their time well and train their self-discipline since young to stay focus in their studies. In this essay, we will be focusing and applying suggestions outlined by Adair, John (1987) and Masterton, Alisa (1997) to discuss more on how students can improve their self-discipline and time management skills. John Adair – Time Management

Other than being organized or efficient, John Adair believes that time management should be goal-driven and results-oriented. There are ten principles of time management as outlined by John Adair as follows; Develop a sense of personal time

It is important for us as a student to understand and analyses how to spend and improve the time available to us as the first step to change. Students can keep a record of their time spent such as daily time log and then review it after a few days. By doing this, it will help the students to understand how they have responded to various tasks at different times of the day and may adjust or improve accordingly to their needs. In fact, students will get a much better feeling such as the feeling of satisfaction for the way they spend their time.

As mentioned in Adair, J., Thomas, N. (2004, p.9), students are to ensure the followings in order for them to improve the use of time:

  • Your time is spent according to a clear idea of your priorities and main responsibilities.
  • You isolate the unimportant and ruthlessly prune out unnecessary or unproductive activities.
  • You combine any ‘free’ time (i.e. free from meetings or other people’s demands) to create meaningful and usable time of your own.
  • Tasks are simplified where others would not be adversely affected.
  • You are not doing tasks which could be performed by others.

An example of time log:

Source: Adair, J., Thomas, N. (2004, p.8)
Identifying long-term goals

It may be worth for students to ponder and identifying their long-term goals as it provides them with a sense of purpose and direction to achieve. Any potential conflicts can also be recognized during this process. For instance: •What do we want to be in 3 or 5 years’ time?

  • What strengths and weaknesses do we have?
  • How can we improve?

Walt Goodridge provides 5-steps approach which can be put into use for students to set up their goals:

Step 1: Find your ‘Why’

It is crucial to understand the reason when doing certain things.

Step 2: Write your goals down

This motivates students to work for their goals.

Step 3: Quantify your goals

Students should avoid doubts or creating fuzzy goals. They should be

specific when setting out goals.

Step 4: Break them down

It will be much easier and manageable for students, especially those who love to procrastinate, to accomplish their goals by breaking down them into smaller parts.

Step 5: Develop a strategy

Students should prioritize their task by working out a plan to accomplish their desire goals.

Make middle-term plans

Middle-term plans can be seen as operational plan which may help students to achieve their long term-goals by setting out: who? What? When? Where? How? And Why? Adair, J. has set out an acronym to set targets which are known as S.M.A.R.T.

Specific – the target must be clear and unambiguous

Measurable – a concrete criteria is needed for measuring the progress in achieving the target Attainable – it emphasizes the importance of targets
that are realistic and attainable Relevant – the target must be in alignment with other targets whether it is worthwhile or right time etc. Time bound – the target to be set within a time frame, for instance, a target date, to help students to focus their efforts in completing their task before the due date. Planning the day

Adair, J (2004) also emphasizes that the golden rule is to shape the plan an outline for each day by listing the various components. This can help students to categorize and prioritize in relation to the urgency and importance task accordingly. Students need to understand and distinguish ‘important’ and ‘urgent’ term accordingly. Important activities have a result which leads to the achievement of students goals while urgent activities require immediate attention which often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals. Student may use below Time Management Matrix which is a useful tool to set their priorities.

Time Management Matrix

Source: Adair, J., Thomas, N. (2004, p.14)
Students may face difficulties in juggling with so many responsibilities. Therefore, students should also include in their systems for identifying what must be done today, should be done today and what might be done today (Adair, J., Thomas, N. 2004, p.15) Make best use of your time

There are certain times where students are more productive than other times. Therefore, it is a must to know which of the quality times students are mentally alert and consistent in performing their task. Breaks in between will also help students to work in concentrated burst. However, students should not take this opportunity to procrastinate in between. Organize office work

Students will need a convenient place to study that is free from distractions in order to be able to focus better. It is also prudent for students to avoid on spending so much time reading which can be easily forgotten.

Therefore, it is encouraged for students to follow the following steps:

Step 1: Shape your environment

As mentioned earlier, it is important to have a convenient environment to study. There are many things which can distract students from doing their work diligently. Therefore, students have to find ways to overcome these challenges and manage their self-discipline.

Step 2: Establishing a daily routine

It would be much easier once the students have created a routine to manage their plans. This may thus help to avoid procrastination and improve self-discipline. Manage meetings effectively

It is encouraged for students to prepare well in advance before attending to any workshops or classes to enable them to have a clearer idea on the concepts that are relevant to that particular workshop and thus being able to contribute to the discussion. Delegate effectively

In students’ context, it may be a principle which is indirectly in relation to getting others to take some of their workload to enable them to have more time to study. For instance, a working student may request the boss to delegate some of the work responsibilities to someone else so that he/she can leave work at reasonable time to study at home. This may increase the opportunity for students to have more free time to study. Make use of committed time

Students can make use of their available time more effectively to increase their achievement level. This can be done by doing productive activities to schedule alongside which have to be committed to other activities in their daily routines or during waiting time and travel time. For instance, student may use the opportunity of the long lunch break by reading through some of the lectures or articles. Manage your health

It is vital for students to look after their energy and stamina levels as time management is about ensuring that they maximize their available time wisely. This is to ensure that students do not suffer any time deprivation through illness of mind or body. In other words, it is important for students to have a well-balanced life.

Bad management in both time and stress can push either of them out of control. Students are therefore encouraged to keep themselves healthy and stress-free during their break times by doing certain activities which will helps to clear their mind.

Alisa Masterton – Time Management

Other than Adair’s (1987) list of ten principles for better time management, Alisa Masterton (1997) also outlines a similar list which may assist students as follows: Planning

Planning helps student to have an overview of the needs to be done with given due date in order for them to accomplish or achieve certain task.


Students tend to start prioritizing on tasks that appear urgent however are actually which are not the most important ones. Therefore, it is prudent for them to do things that are of equally important. No time wasting

Students should avoid doing things that are not important to prevent themselves from wasting any unnecessary time.

Learning to say no Students must avoid from doing task or taking on tasks which does not fit them in. For instance, when they became too pre-occupied and stressed with their own workload, they may not be able to do things effectively.

Controlling paperwork

It is important to be organized to avoid missing datelines, losing important things which may lead to waste of time in searching for missing items.

The diary as a tool

Having a diary may help students to keep track of what needs to be done with the given due date in relation to the plan and priorities which has been set out.


From time to time, students may face problems in doing their task efficiently and effectively. The main challenges are procrastination and distraction or even having trapped of perfectionism which may hinder the chances to success and thus results in failure. Students who practice good time management skills is often that they are more productive, having more energy to achieve their task or goals, feeling less stress, having the ability in getting more things done. Both Adair’s (1987) and Masterton’s (1997) time management techniques are helpful for students to manage their time well. Students can balance their time management strategy that works best to be more effectively, productive and thus improve their self-discipline.

Analyze the Time Management Essay

Another technique of personal time management is proportioning the time in academic life. Proportioning the time is keeping a time log for seven days which is 168 hours (des. Elaine & Leslie, 2006). There are three term of time log which are have to do, ought to do, and like to do on activities.

The things that have to do are much is done on each week in highest priority such as eating, sleeping, attending lectures or tutorials class and others. Next is considering ought to do what is person support to do. These are not a high rarity but need preparation to contribute the important goals such as conducting research studies, a phone call to the family, outdoor game like playing football or playing badminton, and others. Lastly, consider like to do items. These are lower priority but need to contribute the unimportant goals. The unimportant goals may be fun and exciting and give some relax or others activities.

When someone is enabling to manage the time more effectively, it will be reduce stress in academic life (des. Elaine & Leslie, 2006). Time wasters are also a technique of personal time management (des. Elaine & Leslie, 2006). There are two types of time wasters which is the self- inflicted time wasters and external time. The self-inflicted time wasters include procrastination, perfectionism, self-discipline, worrying, personal disorientation, over commitment, and lack of priorities. When you are a student on procrastination, make sure that must be finished your things by setting a deadline and then sticking to it.

Perfectionism occurs when student is engrossed to do something that not trying to do in other tasks. Self- discipline is important to a course of study when doing a work may not be too official. Personal disorientation is to remain focus what are your doing for your task before starting the new one. Over commitment is telling a student to say 'no' on the lives. A student may said 'no' to someone when invite to play or drink something. External time wasters include telephone, visitors, intrusions, television, traveling, waiting, coffee bar conversation, and crises.

When telephone is ring, ask someone to answer it or use an answering machine. The meaning visitor on personal time management is telling your friend that you are busy now and invite you on the other time when free. If watching television programmed, measure you are not be able to watching another television programmed when watching a favorite programmed (des. Elaine & Leslie, 2006). REDUCE STRESS It is easily to use the technique of personal time management on my academics life. Firstly, I will manage my own budget for my money when am coming for university life without accompany by parent.

Next, I will manage my own time by into two parts which is study and recreational activities. When am studying, have to find some information by internet, lecturer and the classmate. It is a better way to learn when I revising for the examination. A recreational activity such as sport, drama can help me to reduce the stress on my academic life. According to Erin R. Wheeler (n . D. ), time management is an essential factor to reduce stress. They can manage their own time by complete the assignment early better rushing to do an assignment or cramming for test. In conclusion, successful time management is one of the important in academic life.

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