The Eleven Most Important Time Management Strategies for College Students

11 Effective Time Management Tips for College Students

An ever-present issue for students is how to best manage their time. When work, family, and other commitments are factored in, managing all of this can feel overwhelming.

A lot of people have hectic schedules while trying to get their degrees, so you're not alone. Georgetown University found that 76% of students in the 30-54 age range had part-time jobs in addition to their studies in 2015. Managing your time effectively in college is crucial if you are a student with multiple obligations.1

How then can you optimize your time usage? Here is some great guidance to help you maintain your academic performance.

A Look at Eleven Ways to Better Manage Your Time in College

These time management strategies and tips for college students will help you stay organized and on track with your coursework whether you're a recent high school graduate or juggling a full-time job and family responsibilities.

1. Keep track of all deadlines and important dates.

Let's pretend you're getting up to leave class when the instructor calls attention to something. In three days, there will be homework due and in one week, there will be an exam. You make a mental note as you walk out of the classroom to reflect upon those times.

How often do you forget something the night before it's due and then have a mini-meltdown? Take notes as you go along to avoid having to cram at midnight.

Rebecca Holley, a full-time student and marketing associate at Edvisors, advises, "Even if you think you'll remember a due date or something you have to do at work, write it down."

Holley advises students to review their course schedules and syllabi at the beginning of the semester and make note of all the crucial dates. Learning about upcoming events can help you get ready for them more effectively.

Establish a schedule.

The stress of trying to figure out how to cram in study and homework time on top of school and work can be mitigated by establishing a regular routine. Make a schedule for yourself at the start of the semester so you can get used to it and see if you still have time for extracurricular activities.

Holley organizes her day to accommodate both school and work.

Holley acknowledges that "it's not always perfect," saying, "sometimes you might have to stay up late or miss out on something fun to keep up with homework." It won't last forever, and the reward at the end will be well worth the effort." ”

Put your technology to good use, 3,

It's easy to let your smartphone become more of a time waster than a time manager when you consider the millions of apps and games available for it. But with diligence, you can turn your mobile device into a portable planner and calendar. You can use alarms to help you keep track of your day-to-day obligations by constantly reminding you of upcoming deadlines and events. Apps like Trello®, which are designed to help you organize your projects and get things done, demonstrate how useful apps can be.

Feeling the pull of social media during your study time? To avoid being distracted by social media and other sites, download one of the many available apps.

You shouldn't just rely on your phone, though. Distractions on your computer or tablet can also be reduced by arranging your accounts.

David Bitton, DoorLoop's chief marketing officer, suggests making three separate users: one for personal use, one for work, and one for academic purposes. To paraphrase, "On your work and school user accounts, have only the bare minimum you'll need to execute work- and school-related tasks." Aside from work, your time should be spent as you see fit. To improve your time management skills, eliminate as many interruptions as possible from your daily activities. ”

The Pomodoro® Technique is a time-based method for tackling large projects in manageable chunks of 25 minutes each.

Nursing student and peer tutor at Rasmussen University Kristin Irvin suggests the Pomodoro Method if you find technology to be a distraction.

Francesco Cirillo, an Italian software developer, came up with the method, and it was given the name "pomodoro" (tomato in Italian) after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used to keep track of his work sessions.

According to Irvine, "the Pomodoro method is similar to a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout." "To begin, select the task you wish to complete, then, with no interruptions, work on it for 25 minutes." Set a timer for five minutes and walk away from your desk when it goes off. All you have to do is repeat this process as often as you like. ” 

You can follow this method with any timer that starts counting down from 25 minutes, so the tomato-shaped one isn't necessary. It gets better Those who prefer listening to music while they study can even find playlists that are specifically designed to last for only 25 minutes.  

5. Raise the bar on your note-taking

In most cases, we simply take notes and move on during class. Educational consultant Frank Buck from Frank Buck Consulting Inc recommends students treat their lecture notes as more of a rough outline or first draft.

During class, Buck says, "don't worry about neatness, form, or spelling." When you read those notes again that night, that's when the magic happens." ”

Buck claims that the majority of new information is forgotten within the first day. You can improve your memory for and grasp of new material by recopying and rearranging your notes. While doing so, you should give some thought to anything that wasn't clear in the initial presentation.

Buck recommends, "Look it up in the textbook or perform a quick Google search to clear the confusion." Always make sure to double-check your spelling. It's like trying to make money out of straw. The notes are in perfect condition for review before the exam. Less time is needed to learn the material. ”

Try to identify and eliminate potential sources of distraction.

Establishing a routine that works for you requires being honest with yourself about your habits and preferences, which in turn can help you deal with distractions.

To paraphrase Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire, "if you tend to work best at night, there's no use trying to get all your work done in the morning." ®

Whether it's deep cleaning your study space, browsing social media, or making plans with a friend who drops by, Grossman recommends getting a clear sense of what activities you gravitate toward when you don't feel like working. Avoid wasting time by taking preventative measures like changing your study location, putting your phone in another room, or just closing the door.

Seven, Get Assistance

Stephen Light, Nolah Mattress's chief marketing officer, has some advice for better time management: don't be afraid to ask for assistance.

When students are confused, Light urges them to "immediately contact a professor." It may be uncomfortable for some people to ask questions at first, but they should push through it because they will learn a lot. Do not waste time trying to figure out a difficult concept or lesson on your own if you are having trouble with it. ”

If you feel like you're spending too much time on material you already know, it might be worthwhile to see if the program you're enrolled in offers competency-based education courses.

But time management is useless if you are emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted. In the long run, you'll be better off if you admit when you need help and actually get it. This could mean giving up a hobby or taking on fewer classes. It is imperative that you investigate the availability of any and all student support services, such as tutoring, that your school may offer.

Take care of your health.

Taking care of yourself physically can have a significant impact on how well you handle your time in college, despite how counterintuitive that may sound. Maintaining high levels of energy through exercise can lead to a more alert and focused mind when studying. Many people also believe that college students can save time by getting enough sleep at night. This is because getting enough sleep at night can improve concentration and reduce anxiety.

9. Maintain order

If you're taking more than one class this semester, staying on top of your schoolwork will be crucial to making the most of your time. Separate binders, notebooks, and folders for each class will make it much easier to locate specific notes or materials when studying for an exam or writing a lengthy paper.

Notes and handouts aren't the only things that benefit from an orderly layout. Maintain a desktop structure that makes it easy to find the files you need for each course.

Ten. Use a checklist.

Making use of printed or handwritten checklists for each class or each day of the week can help you keep track of everything you need to accomplish. If you're having trouble keeping track of your obligations, you might benefit from organizing them into distinct colors based on their relative urgency or relevance to specific areas of your life (like school or work).

Teacher and Learn Greek Online creator Vasiliki Baskos recommends students "make a checklist of all the major homework tasks for the day or week." "Rank them in order of importance so that the less crucial ones will be left undone if time runs out." ”

Eleven. Strike a middle ground

Stress is a normal part of life. Being a student is no different Things get rowdy at work, chaotic at home, and disorderly in the social realm. There's a need to pause and collect one's thoughts at times like these.

Anita Thomas, senior vice president at Edvisors, advises students to "ask your family and friends to support you during these challenging times juggling work and school, but also give them permission to confront you if they think you're driving yourself—and them—crazy at times."

An integral part of time management is making sure you get downtime to rest and rejuvenate.

Cathy Mills, director at Net Influencer, says, "Many people forget to make time for themselves, and this is a huge mistake." According to Mills, all you need is 15 or 30 minutes a day, and during that time you should do whatever makes you happy: exercise, watch an episode of your favorite show, listen to some music, go for a walk, etc.

Mills says, "These things you enjoy doing will be great motivation." You'll find that your productivity increases and your time management skills improve. ”

Employ these methods of time management in higher education

Listen to teachers and fellow students who have been in your shoes. Try to bring some order to your hectic schedule so that you can finish college without too much stress. Time management is important, but it won't be enough to succeed in college. Some of the other things you should do to keep on track for success in college are highlighted in our article "How to Get Ahead in College: 5 Tips for Success."  

1Anthony P
Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce, "Learning While Earning: The New Normal," December 2021, available at: Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Michelle Melton.

NOTE: This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated for accuracy through the year 2022. In the United States, Trello is legally recognized as a trademark owned by Trello, Inc. Francesco Cirillo owns the trademark for the Pomodoro time management system.

Inflection, LLC has trademarked the term "GoodHire."

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