Time Management for Students: A Guide to Getting Things Done
College is a unique time in anybody's life. We're still learning who we are, what we want out of our lives, and how to become productive members of society. With so much to work on, it's no wonder why 53% of college students say they struggle more with time management than they did in high school.
While you may spend less time in the classroom, you may still find yourself twice as busy. Fortunately, with the right time management skills, you can learn how to manage your life as efficiently as possible. Let's talk about that!
Learn How to Prioritize
Prioritizing your work is one of the most essential time management skills you can have. This includes choosing what needs your attention first, what can wait, and what assignments you can take on. Part of time management should include learning how to say "no".
Of course, we include social activities, extracurricular activities, and part-time jobs in this as well. Since you can't turn down school assignments, these should take priority.
There's the old joke among college students that you can only have two of the three between good grades, sleep, and having a social life. That isn't entirely true, as long as you can prioritize what needs to be done first and waste as little time as possible doing it.
Limit Wasted Time
While this isn't true for everyone, the average college student has three to six hours of free time each day.
How much of your "study time" has been spent on your phone, talking to your roommate, or engaging with distractions? Don't worry, you don't have to tell us. However, it's important that you're aware of this.
Now, ask yourself; if you were to completely eliminate distractions, how much time would it actually take you to complete your studies? This is an important question to ask, as it might be more than you think.
Therefore, eliminating distractions and condensing your work time could save you a lot more time to focus on the aspects of college life that you want. If you find that study and homework eat up a lot of your time, consider moving to a different space or eliminating distractions from your workspace.
Assess Your Study System
Beyond just limiting your distractions, take stock of your current study system and make changes based on the inefficiencies you identify. Everybody has a few!
Of course, our phones can draw a lot of our attention, but that's not all. Overstimulation from noise in the background, peer pressure, conditions such as ADHD, and so much more can cause plenty of issues in our daily lives.
The next time you sit down for study time, take mental notes of how often you get distracted. If you discover that you can only maintain your attention on the task at hand for a couple of minutes at a time, try to diagnose what the issue is. Some of the most common ones include:
- Your environment
- Distractions within reach
- Mental distractions or personal issues
- Uninteresting subject matter
- Physical or emotional discomfort
Once you understand what the issue is, you can take steps to try to address it moving forward. Still, identifying the key issue is the first step.
Combine or Condense Tasks
In some cases, you may benefit from combining or condensing certain aspects of your schedule for better efficiency. For example, do you take a long bus ride to get to class? Why not study on the way?
If you have certain tasks that you can combine, such as downtime at work and schoolwork, try to make the most of it. Small periods of effort will add up to substantial progress over time. Adopt the mindset of "getting it done" and you'd be surprised how much you can achieve.
While it isn't possible for everyone to combine tasks, you can always try to shorten them when possible. Again, this goes back to efficiency and planning ahead.
Develop a Tracking System
We live in the digital age, so we're not going to suggest that you hand-write everything in tiny fonts on your calendar. Instead, develop a system for keeping track of your assignments and other obligations in a manner that works for you.
For example, some people prefer to set reminders on their phones, alarms, timers, or anything similar. This is a great way to ensure that you stick to your schedule.
However, this does require a small investment of your time each week or each day. While this may take some getting used to, it is worth it for busy college students, and it's a habit you can carry with you throughout your life to help stay organized.
We recommend starting with your weekly schedule every week, basing it around your classes and important assignments. You can even add your classes at the start of the semester to make it easier. From there, you can add new tasks or reminders each day as they arise.
Add Self-Care Time to Your Schedule
We know that the last thing you want to hear is that you need to add more to your busy college schedule. Without trying to overwhelm you, let's make the case for it.
Self-care, especially when it comes to exercise and nutrition, is an essential aspect of a successful schedule. When we live busy lives, cortisol builds up in our bodies, causing stress. This provokes the "fight or flight" instincts in our bodies.
When left unchecked, this can lead to anxiety, high stress levels, and plenty of other issues. Unfortunately, these can further hinder your ability to perform academically.
Therefore, it's critical for college students to get a fair amount of exercise and to generally practice physical and mental wellness. Exercise is the best way to reduce stress levels, as our fight-or-flight instincts want us to move.
Fortunately, anything works! There's no "right" exercise to try, so do what you enjoy. Go for a brisk walk, a run, a bike ride, swim at a local pool, or go work out at the gym.
Whatever it is, just make sure you enjoy it enough to stick with it. Aim for at least 150 minutes every week.
Make Adjustments Over Time
Nobody expects you to become an expert time manager overnight, and you shouldn't expect that of yourself either. None of us are perfect, and it's important to accept that.
Many people struggle with time management, so you are far from alone. The only thing you can do is improve, and there's always room for improvement.
You'll never find a person who does everything with 100% efficiency, so set realistic expectations for yourself. Again, try to prioritize your goals and take them one step at a time. Over the course of your college career, you'll see a dramatic improvement if you build the habit of building habits.
While that may sound odd at first, think about it. Making incremental improvements over time is how we grow as individuals. This is an important habit for a successful life, and it's best to start developing these skills early.
Take each issue one at a time, whether it's study efficiency or planning ahead, and work on them individually. As time passes, you'll see amazing results before you know it!
Choose the Right Schedule
Finally, one of the best things you can do to improve your time management is to choose the right schedule and contact CCU's Admissions Department as we offer open enrollment. For example, if you need to earn a part-time income, consider freelancing or driving for a ridesharing company rather than working on a fixed schedule.
More importantly, make sure that your school schedule works for your needs. While you can choose class times at the beginning of the semester, one of the best ways to ensure that your school schedule works for you is to choose online classes.
This way, you can complete your coursework on your own time from anywhere. Online schooling gives anyone the freedom to pursue their education whenever and wherever. If you have a busy schedule, consider enrolling in an online program!
Improve Your Time Management System Today
Now that you know some helpful time management tips for college students, put these tips to the test and see how they work for you. There's no "right answer" for everyone, but there are always ways to improve our time management skills during school and throughout our lives. Again, it's all about finding what works best for you.
Stay up to date with our latest tips for students, and don't hesitate to contact us with any questions or for help finding a program!