Effective Time Management Tips for College Students, Students always worry about how to manage their time. When you add work, family, and social activities to the mix, these tasks become even harder.
You’re not the only one trying to get your degree while juggling a busy schedule. In 2015, Georgetown University did a study that found that 40% of students ages 16–29 and 76% of students ages 30–54 worked while they were in school. 1 As you might expect, time management in college is very important if you’re a student with a lot of different things to do.
So, what can you do to use your time better? We’ve put together some great tips that can help you keep up with your schoolwork.
Effective Time Management Tips for College Students
These time management strategies and tips for college students will help you stay organized and on track with your assignments, whether you just graduated from high school or are raising a family while working two jobs.
1. Record all due dates and deadlines
Let’s say you’re about to leave class when the teacher makes an announcement. There is homework due in three days and an exam in one week. As you walk out of class, you tell yourself to remember those times.
How often has that happened to you? How often have you forgotten to do your homework until the night before it was due? So you don’t have to rush around at night, write everything down as you hear it.
Rebecca Holley, a full-time student and marketing associate at Edvisors, says, “Even if you think you’ll remember a due date or something you have to do at work, write it down.”
Holley says that at the beginning of the semester, you should look at your course calendars and syllabi and write down all the important dates. If you know what’s coming up, you can get ready for it better.
2. Make a schedule
Having a routine can make it easier to figure out when and how you will do your homework and study time on top of school, work, and other obligations. Set up a schedule at the start of the semester so you can get used to it quickly. Then, see if you have time for other things.
Holley organizes her day around school and work.
Holley says, “It’s not always perfect. Sometimes you have to stay up late or miss something fun to get your homework done, but that’s just the way it is.” “It won’t last forever, and when I reach the end, it will all have been worth it.”
3. Use technology for good
With millions of apps and games at your fingertips, your smartphone can seem more like a time-waster than a time-manager. But with a little self-control, you can turn your phone or other mobile device into a calendar and scheduler you can use on the go. Set reminders to help you remember important dates and other obligations as you go about your day. Apps like Trello®, which is a project management and productivity app, can also be helpful because they can be used as digital to-do lists.
Are you tempted to check social media often while you study? Try one of the many apps that can block social media and other distractions.
Don’t just use your phone. You can also set up your computer and tablet accounts in a way that makes them less likely to distract you.
David Bitton, the chief marketing officer at DoorLoop, suggests making three different users: one for personal use, one for work, and one for school. “On your work and school user accounts, you should only have the things you need to do your work and school tasks. Everything else that has to do with fun and relaxation should be on your own account. The less you let things get in the way of your routine, the better you’ll be at managing your time.”
4. Use the Pomodoro® Technique to break up your work
But if you find that technology is getting in the way more and more, Rasmussen University student and peer tutor Kristin Irvin suggests you try the Pomodoro Technique.
This method was created by an Italian named Francesco Cirillo, and it gets its name from the tomato-shaped kitchen timer he used to keep track of his sessions (pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato).
Irvine says that the Pomodoro method is like a high intensity interval training (HIIT) workout. “First, you pick the task you want to work on, set a timer for 25 minutes, and start working on that task without getting distracted. Set a timer for 5 minutes and take a break after the timer goes off. You can do this as many times as you want.”
Obviously, you don’t need a tomato-shaped timer to follow this method. Any device that starts counting down from 25 minutes will do. Even better? If you like to listen to music while you study, you can even find playlists that only last for 25 minutes.
5. Step up your note-taking game
Many of us take notes in class, but that’s about all we do. Frank Buck, an educational consultant at Frank Buck Consulting Inc., suggests that students think of their lecture notes more as a rough outline or first draft.
“Don’t worry about being neat, correct, or spelling in class,” says Buck. “The magic happens when you look at those notes a second time that same day, in the evening.”
Buck says that most forgetting happens in the first 24 hours after learning something new. Recopying and rearranging your notes will help you remember and understand what you’ve learned. You also take a moment to think about anything that didn’t make sense in the original lecture.
Buck says, “Look it up in the textbook or do a quick Google search to clear things up.” “Check the spelling again if you need to. This is like trying to make gold out of straw. When it’s time to study for the test, the notes are in perfect shape. Less time needs to be spent studying.”
6. Look for possible distractions and try to limit them
Being honest about your habits and preferences not only helps you set up a routine that works for you, but it can also help you deal with distractions.
Mike Grossman, CEO of GoodHire, says, “If you work best at night, there’s no point in trying to get all your work done in the morning.”
Grossman says to figure out what you do when you don’t feel like working, like deep cleaning your study space, scrolling through social media, or making plans with a friend who stops by. If you don’t want to waste time, you might need to move where you study, put your phone in another room, or just shut the door.
7. Ask for help
Stephen Light, the chief marketing officer of Nolah Mattress, says that people often forget to ask for help when they need to manage their time better.
“Contact a professor right away if you don’t understand something,” says Light. “Some people feel awkward or ashamed when they ask questions, but it will be worth it in the long run. If you don’t ask for help when you don’t understand a concept or lesson, you could waste hours trying to figure it out on your own.
If you feel like your classes are covering things you already know, it’s a good idea to see if the program you’re in has competency-based education courses. These can give you more freedom over how you spend your time in a class.
But it doesn’t matter how well you manage your time if you’re tired physically, emotionally, and mentally. In the long run, you’ll be better off if you know when you’re too busy and ask for help. This could mean giving up an activity or taking on less debt. Many schools also offer tutoring and other kinds of student help, so you should definitely look into any of these options.
8. Take care of your health
Taking care of your health may not seem like a big deal, but it can make a big difference in how well you manage your time in college. Regular exercise can keep your energy up, which can help you concentrate better on your schoolwork. Many people also say that getting enough sleep at night can save college students time because it can keep them from needing naps in the afternoon and make them more alert and less stressed.
9. Stay in order
Keeping your schoolwork in order can save you a lot of time during the week, especially if you’re taking more than one class at the same time. If you have separate binders, notebooks, and folders for each class, it will be easy to find that sheet of notes for next week’s test or that article you wanted to use for your big research paper.
Not only is it important to avoid clutter when putting together your notes and handouts. Make sure that your computer desktop is organized so that you can always find the files you need for each class.
10. Checklists will help you
You can keep track of everything you need to do by printing or writing out checklists for each class or each day of the week. Try putting tasks in different colors based on how important they are or what they are about, like school or work, to help you see what needs to be done.
“Make a list of all the big homework assignments for the day or week,” says Vasiliki Baskos, a teacher and the founder of Learn Greek Online. “Put them in order of importance so that if you run out of time, the less important ones won’t get done.”
11. Find a middle ground
Stress is a part of life for everyone. Going to school is no different. Work gets busy, family responsibilities grow, and social activities get out of hand. When things are like that, it’s good to take a step back and breathe deeply.
Anita Thomas, senior vice president at Edvisors, says, “Ask your family and friends to help you when it’s hard to balance work and school, but also give them permission to talk to you if they think you’re sometimes making yourself and them crazy.”
Giving yourself time to rest and relax is also an important part of being able to use your time well.
“Many people forget to take time for themselves, which is a big mistake,” says Cathy Mills, director at Net Influencer. Mills says that this time doesn’t have to be long—15 or 30 minutes a day—but it should be spent doing things you enjoy, like working out, watching an episode of a favorite TV show, listening to music, or going for a walk.
“These things you like to do will be a great way to keep you going,” says Mills. “You’ll find that you get a lot more done and are better at managing your time.”
Use these tips to manage your time in college.
Listen to what experts and students who have been there had to say. Try to get your busy schedule under control so you can get your college degree without stress. Managing your time well is important, but you’ll need more than that to do well in college.