Time Management for College Students: 7 Tips and Strategies to Stop Procrastination and Get More Sleep

Written by Domantas Vanagas

November 1, 2021

College asks a lot of you as a student, but in return, you’ll experience some of the best years of your life while you’re there. The classes are tough, and the workload is heavy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still have the ultimate college experience.

Understandably, you want to get the best education while still making time for all the great activities your school has to offer. Without proper time management, you can find yourself losing out on both.

laying woman reading book

To help you out, I’ve put together a list of 7 time management tips for college students so you can take these strategies and make the most of your time during these next few years and understand the importance of good time management.

Why Time Management Is Important For College Students

Time management for college students is challenging because it’s the first time you get to experience this incredible amount of freedom. There are no curfews, you can go where you want when you want, and your course schedule is entirely different from the regimented one you were used to in high school.

These new life changes can be overwhelming, which explains why 45% of college students claim to deal with above-average stress. It’s so important to learn to manage your time in college, or you’ll see your grades, your social life, and your health begin to suffer as a result.

4 Key Factors For Effective Time Management In College:

1. Task Lists

No matter the type of classes you’re taking, they all tend to have a similar coursework structure. You’ll have some shorter assignments that require a quick turnaround, longer assignments that require more research, and some big projects that might take you the entire semester.

task list stickers on pink wall

Creating a list of tasks for yourself will help you to accomplish those tasks more efficiently and you’ll feel less stressed knowing you haven’t forgotten anything.

It is so much easier to manage your time as a college student when you know exactly how many things are on your to-do list and when every single one of them is due. Print out your daily, weekly, and even monthly to-do list if you’re more of a visual person.

 

2. Rank Tasks

Creating your to-do list is the first great step towards improving your time management abilities.

Learning to prioritize each task is the logical next step.

Ranking your to-do list in order of importance and due date will help ensure that your more critical assignments get the attention they deserve.

rearranged and prioritized task stickers

Next, create a simple system for yourself. Color coding can be an effective way to help you determine the high-value items on your task list.

High-value assignments are ones that require more work, make a more significant impact on your grade, and have several steps to them. They also tend to have extended due dates, which can lead to procrastination if you aren’t careful.

Rank these as high to keep them top of mind and break them up into smaller segments, so you can slowly chip away at them every day.

3. Time Blocks For Each Task

Creating a structured schedule is the best way to make use of your now ranked task list. Everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, so it’s up to you to determine how to make the most out of yours.

Breaking each task up into different time chunks will make you more productive.

It prevents you from procrastinating, spending too much time on a single assignment, or running into issues with multitasking.

You’re most effective when you’re working on one thing at a time. Go over your ranked to-do list and estimate how much time it will take you to accomplish each assignment.

When you first start college, you might not have the best idea of how long something will take.

It’s best to lean on the side of caution and give yourself 30 minutes to 1-hour buffers until you get a better understanding of how quickly you can get things done.

Your next step is to fill in your calendar based on the due dates of your assignments and how long you anticipate taking to complete them.

4. Self-Awareness And Accountability

Holding yourself accountable is essential to effectively improve your time management skills as a college student.

woman looking at herself in the mirror

Creating a task list, ranking those tasks, and creating a time-blocked calendar are all great steps in the right direction, but you have to be willing to make the commitment to do the work.

Track the time it takes you to do an assignment so you can develop a better understanding of how much time each one will take.

If you find yourself taking too long to do homework, take some time to consider what may be causing the issue…

Are you getting distracted?

Do you need to improve your research skills?

Track your time so you know how much time you could be getting back if you made some improvements. Being self-aware will help you to develop better habits, improve your time management technique, and get more time back from your schedule.

7 Tips to Effectively Manage Your Time in College:

1. Develop A Routine

This will help you reduce any stress and uncertainty you have when trying to figure out if you have enough time to study, do homework, work, and enjoy your college life. This is must if you are a student athlete, trying to manage many more responsibilities.

One way to reduce stress and uncertainty in your day-to-day life is by implementing a routine. Developing good habits early on will help you get more done, sleep better, exercise, and enjoy free time with friends.

Practical book that could get you started on habit formation – Atomic Habits

2. Prioritize Homework And Health

One of the best ways to maintain a healthy balance of time is by prioritizing your homework and your health.

balancing homework and health

College students are often guilty of spending too much or not enough time on both which is why developing effective time management strategies is so important.

If you find yourself neglecting sleep in favor of studying all night, it’s time to take another look at your calendar.

Adjust your schedule to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and have enough time to do your homework. Students that sleep less than 6 hours often have a much lower GPA than those getting at least 8.

3. Save Time by Planning Ahead

When you’re given an assignment, take the time to thoroughly read over the deliverables and make a note of the due date in your calendar. Understanding your homework will help you determine how long it will take you to complete it.

road sign describing road ahead

 

Don’t wait until the last minute to figure out what needs to be done for your homework assignment.

You might find out you don’t have enough time to complete it once it’s already too late.

Give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead by procrastinating less, setting deadlines sooner, and understanding what is being asked of you in your homework assignment.

4. Ask For Help

Don’t be afraid to ask other students, your advisor, a tutor, or even your teacher for help. You’re in college to get an education, and so don’t think that means you need to figure everything out on your own.

Asking for help while you’re in college will help solidify your understanding of the course material.

In addition, it will improve your communication skills, increase your confidence in your abilities, and save you hours of struggling to understand something that would only take a few minutes for someone to explain.

Take advantage of study groups and teacher office hours to help complete your assignments more efficiently.

5. Avoid Distractions

Cellphones are one of the biggest pain points when it comes to effective time management for college students.

student distracted while studying remotely

Social media is a great tool for keeping up with friends but not when it distracts you from getting work done.

It can be tempting to reach for your cell phone, so do yourself a favor and leave it in another room or leave it on airplane mode until you’ve finished what you started.

5 minutes here and there of scrolling and texting can add up quickly, so do your best to avoid the temptation entirely.

You might also find yourself opening tabs on your laptop while you’re working and notice that you’re falling down an entire rabbit hole of Youtube distractions and top 10 lists. Try to limit how many tabs you have opened and stay focused on your homework.

If you’re easily distracted by people around you, find somewhere quiet for homework so you can get it done quickly and hang out with those people later.

6. Stay Organized

Keeping your schedule and homework organized will save you time and headaches. Keep separate folders (physical or electronic) for each class, so you know where all of your class resources, notes, and assignments are.

Avoid clutter at all costs, especially when it comes to your notes. Messy notes are more stressful than they are helpful.

Review the notes you’ve written after every class and double-check that you understand what you wrote down. Rewrite things to make them clearer for future you and ask questions about the things you didn’t quite understand.

7. Create Balance In Your Calendar

College is also meant to be fun! No one is expecting your calendar to be strictly academic from the moment you wake up right up until you go to sleep.

Include time for breaks, socializing, and activities in your calendar so you don’t get burnt out.

Reward yourself for respecting your time commitments and completing all of your assignments on time.

Don’t Give Up

Time management is a skill that you can develop over time so don’t get discouraged if you struggle at first. Keep referring to the time management strategies in this guide and you will continue to see improvement.

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