It is no secret that time management is one of the biggest challenges for students, especially students with ADHD. Our attention can be inconsistent, we can get distracted easily, and tendency towards stress and frustration can leave us feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis.

There are, however, time management techniques that are possible for everyone to use. As a starter, it’s important to avoid some common time management pitfalls.

Here are the top five mistakes when it comes to time management:

Mistake #1: Not using a to-do list.

A to-do list is essential. This time management tool takes the pressure off your brain by helping you keep track of your responsibilities and goals. Without it, you’re forced to hold all your tasks and to-dos in your head, which can easily lead to mental overload.

Your to-do list can be contained in a notebook, a smartphone, a word processing document, or whatever works for you.

Mistake #2: Refusing to plan ahead.

If people would describe you as somewhat spontaneous and unpredictable, planning ahead is essential. While this quality can add a great deal of fun to a party, it’s not as appealing when it comes to time management. Trying to manage your time on the fly is sure to result in procrastination, missed deadlines, and even forgotten promises.

Planning ahead to manage your tasks and to-do’s allows you to create structure and get things done.

Mistake #3: Trying to do too much in the day.

We often have unrealistic expectations about what we can accomplish in a given time period. Setting yourself up with unrealistic goals is setting yourself up for failure, along with guilt, low self-esteem, and burnout.

Developing realistic expectations about what you can accomplish, and how long it will take, is not just helpful, it’s necessary.

Mistake #4: Being a perfectionist.

Perfectionism is a vicious cycle. Perfect does not exist. As a result, perfectionists leave many tasks and projects unfinished. When we are stuck in perfectionism, nothing gets done because nothing ever seems good enough.

Instead of focusing on perfect, strong learners can determine in advance what will constitute a “good job” and stick to those guidelines.

Mistake #5: Speeding up instead of slowing down.

This may be the most important tip of all. When the pressure builds, we often respond to stress by kicking into high gear. The only sure things about this approach, is that it is not sustainable and will lead to burn out.

In all aspects of life, we work much more efficiently and effectively when we are calm and centered–not frantic and stressed. Take a deep breath and consciously slow down.