Life can be busy, period. When you’re a student working on part-time schooling, however, time can seem even more precious. Throw parenting or taking care of life’s daily necessities into the mix and things seem even more hectic.

Here are a few ways you can keep up with the pace, without losing control of your daily “to do” list and your all-important sense of balance:

Time your tasks

For those of us who have trouble getting places on time, there’s a helpful solution at hand. Think through all of the steps you need to take before getting to a class or an appointment. For example, let’s say you need ten minutes to get out of bed, 15 for a shower, 20 to brush your teeth and dress, and an added 20 for breakfast. Be realistic about the time you’ll need to accomplish each task, and add it all up. Having a clear view of the time it takes to prepare—in addition to driving time—will help you use your time wisely, and get places on time.

Don’t overcommit

Are you a “yes” person? Do you find yourself overcommitting to people and events, because you want to keep others happy? If so, it’s likely that you often find yourself feeling overwhelmed, with little time to get through the list of things you need to do for yourself. It’s hard, but being direct and realistic with others about what you can and cannot do for them helps you keep a sense of balance. And your friends will appreciate it in the long run, because it means they’ll likely be able to count on you more: You won’t need to cancel last minute when you’ve overcommitted yourself, and realize you still have an assignment to do for tomorrow!

Prepare the night before

There’s no better way to make mornings less stressful than preparing the night before. Whether it’s making a lunch, laying out the kids’ clothes, or packing your school bag beforehand, this form of pre-planning and preparation heightens your level of organization, as well as your sense of being calmly in control of your day.

Give yourself some breathing room

Life can be unpredictable. You may have set aside 2 hours to write an assignment—but then your daughter came down with the flu, or some other emergency arose—and that time flew right out the window. A good policy is to expect the unexpected: If an assignment should take 2 hours to complete, give yourself 3 or 4 in which to do it, just in case. If you finish on time or early, you can still use the leftover time for something else, but it’s nice to have the buffer zone in case life throws one of its curve balls at you!

Get rid of distractions

Likely the simplest of the provided tips, this one can also be hardest for today’s student to follow. In a world where the mobile phone, social media and other digital distractions reign supreme, putting your phone on silent—or away—can seem nearly impossible. Today, distracted driving is one of the leading causes of automobile accidents. In a similar way, distracted learning can be a major cause of “academic crash”—the failure to get your work done, or achieve the grades you could have had you simply paid attention! So, no matter how hard it may seem to avoid Facebook or Instagram for an hour, putting that phone away is a great way to enhance your time management.