Student Life

How to Manage Your Time as a College Student

Master time management in college.

Student Contributor, Jasmin Kaur

March 20, 2023

How to Manage Your Time as a College Student
Learn time management skills to help you succeed in college.
Perhaps one of the hardest tasks as a college student is time management. From writing that eight-page paper to celebrating your dog’s birthday, it can feel like you're never allocating enough time to any one subject. Nevertheless, there are some great techniques you practice to better spend your time. For instance, prioritization quickly helps you create categories for greater efficiency. These are the general top five priorities for many college students:
1. Study time 2. Social time/time spent with friends 3. Family time 4. Work 5. Time to destress and relax  While not in any specific order, most college students' priorities tend to fall more or less in this order. With so many things pulling you in every which way, it can get tiring to pursue time management in college. Below are some tips and tricks to help you get started!

5 Tips to Manage Your Time Effectively in College

  1. Use a planner!

    A planner is one of the simplest ways to organize your day, week, and month. Use color-coded markers, stickers, or other tools to help you categorize which activity is when and visually see when, where, and how you are spending your time. 
  2. Block out specific days for specific activities

    Use specific days to complete certain tasks. For example, if your classes are on a Monday/Wednesday/Friday schedule, use those days to work as well (if possible) to save Tuesdays and Thursdays as solely study days or for extracurricular activities.
    Then, Friday evenings can be used for a night out with friends, while weekends can be saved to catch up on sleep or spend some time with family. Of course, this is only one model, and it doesn’t always work this neatly (in fact, it rarely does), but the aim is trying to allocate certain days to specific tasks that match with your deadlines and events, alongside ensuring that you get enough time to rest and socialize to avoid burnout.
  3. Avoid skipping sleep!

    Trust me, an all-nighter can be a tempting alternative when you decide to spend the day hanging out with your friends or family. But—while they work here and there—pulling all-nighters frequently will only get you further off track. Not only do all-nighters eventually become a routine, which then makes procrastination a habit, but they also take away crucial time for sleep and rest. In the long run, you’ll become fatigued, more prone to mood swings, and generally less productive. In summary, avoid those all-nighters as much as possible, and plan ahead for big projects or papers.
  4. Start the assignment as soon as you get it. 

    This can seem counterintuitive. After all, there are plenty of other assignments that remain (and that have been planned for). However, you only have to start the project, not finish it. Brainstorm a few ideas, choose the topic, or plan out your part in a group project, and then put the assignment aside for when you do plan on completing it. By already having something to go off of, you’ll be less likely to procrastinate and more motivated to pick it up sooner and finish it (hopefully) ahead of time. As the proverb goes: well begun is half done.
  5. Prioritize your needs versus your wants.

    There will be days when you don’t feel like doing anything and times when you want to join the fun. However, it’s crucial to prioritize your needs and wants to make the best of your time. If you are genuinely exhausted, prioritize your physical and mental health over schoolwork. Catch up on sleep or take a mental break to avoid burning out. Likewise, if you find yourself simply procrastinating, then motivate yourself to get started and avoid that last-minute anxiety. All in all, create a balance between wants and needs to remain on top of things and prevent burnout or physical exhaustion!
The key to managing your time as a college student lies in prioritization, planning, and self-discipline. Nevertheless, no matter how hard you try, there’ll be times when you find yourself pulling that all-nighter, going out instead of working on a paper, or simply spending the day napping. The great thing about college is that your schedule is largely flexible; if you need to take a few hours for a nap, that cancels out the all-nighter (mostly). If you spend a morning huddled over studying for an exam, use the night to have dinner with your family. Life rarely ever neatly fits into a well-timed schedule (and even when it does, expect it to only last for a day…maybe a week, at most). Instead of obsessing over every minute or worrying over that hour wasted, keep looking towards the future, rearranging things where needed. What matters is achieving a sense of fulfillment with the time you spend, no matter how it is organized.

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