6 Tips For Time Management For College Students

Updated March 23, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Want To Learn How To Manage Your Time Effectively?

Time management can be one of the hardest things to figure out when you're a college student. This may be especially true if you're an incoming freshman, but it can be difficult for college students at any point in their academic careers. Time-management skills can last you a lifetime; if you can master them while you're still in college, you’ll likely be able to bring them with you in any career you pursue down the line. Research indicates that time management skills may even correlate to higher job satisfaction, less stress, and better overall health, which means that investing effort into building them now may help more than just your job performance in the long run. What follows are six tips to help you make the most of your time so that you can better prioritize those things that need to be done first and foremost, and so that you don't miss any important deadlines along the way.

Tip #1: Use Your Resources

Nowadays, with the sheer number of digital resources that are available to us at any given moment, it can be easier than ever to find tools that can help keep you on track. For instance, Google Calendar is a helpful feature that can help you plan out events days, weeks, months, or even years at a time. And what's great about Google Calendar, as well as a host of other calendar services, is that you can schedule reminders as well.

For instance, say you have an important paper due at the end of the semester, and you already know about it because your professor included it in the syllabus handed out on the first day of class. You can set an event in your calendar for the day that the paper is due, and then schedule reminders for when you want to be reminded of that paper. So, if you know you'll only really need about a week to work on it, you can schedule a reminder for a week before the paper is due, right down to the exact time.

A digital calendar can be a massive help because it allows you to write down everything you need to know in a location that can't accidentally be thrown away and, even better, can send push notifications to your cell phone. You also don't have to worry about relying on your memory to remember when everything is due. The digital calendar kept it all right there and organized for you, which allows you to see when you have more free time, and when you should dedicate more time to studying and working on those big papers and projects.

Tip #2: When Scheduling, Avoid Scattering

Some students believe that if they schedule their classes throughout the day, with time off in between classes, that they’ll overall be more productive. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Instead, you may find that it’s far too easy to use that downtime between classes to catch up with friends and social media - you likely won't want to spend it studying, and that’s okay.

As much of a drag as it may seem, you may find it helpful to schedule your classes in blocks. Another option is to try and dedicate certain days of the week to class and others to things like homework or studying, socializing, or personal responsibilities. Focusing on one or two main commitments at a time may help you get more done for each demand you’re tasked with, and creating a routine that minimizes opportunities for distraction can also be beneficial.

Tip #3: Go To Class

Skipping class may seem an easy way to save time or catch up on other commitments. You might, for instance, want to skip a class that you're doing well in so you can use that hour and a half to brush up on the class you're struggling with. However, you may set yourself behind in other areas in doing so, especially if skipping class becomes a habit.

Realizing you’ve missed an important lecture, for example, or an impromptu pop-quiz may leave you scrambling and spending double the time you would have by simply attending class. You may also unintentionally set yourself up for more of a time commitment in the future – for instance, if there are concepts you missed that appear on an exam, studying may become a task that takes several hours instead of just a few.

Tip #4: Do The Readings In Advance

One of the biggest drags of the college experience for many students is assigned readings. Many students overlook assignments like these figuring they'll skip to the highlights by attending the lecture, and then maybe reading them later on when they have time. But staying on top of readings and other prep work can help you maximize what you get out of each class, pick up on material that might enhance your understanding of things, and get an idea of what things you might need to ask questions about. All of these things can help save you time overall, even if you have to invest a bit more than you’d like in the moment. 

Tip #5: Don't Take The Entire Spring (Or Winter) Break Off

It is generally healthy for the mind and body to get away for a while. Just about everyone needs a break from time to time. But spring and winter breaks in college are often long, and many students find that they have little idea what to do with themselves in the absence of classes or other responsibilities.

This may seem like a luxury (and it certainly can be!), but it may also disrupt the flow you’ve developed during the semester. Completely disconnecting may also make it hard for you to maintain an element of routine or feel motivated to pursue other things, like hobbies or socializing with others. In fact, studies suggests that too little or too much leisure time can even affect how satisfied we feel with our lives.

It’s completely understandable to want to use breaks to unwind, and it can be very beneficial to do so. It’s okay if you don’t think about school or so much as nudge open a textbook. Let your batteries recharge. But it may also be important to remember that your break can be an opportunity to be productive in a different way. Whether it be preparing for the semester ahead, catching up with friends, or making time to work on yourself, using your free time intentionally can make a huge difference. 

Want To Learn How To Manage Your Time Effectively?

Tip #6: Write Everything Down

If you rely on your memory to keep you on track, you may find it hard to avoid forgetting due dates, not leaving enough time to complete assignments, and missing important opportunities. Find a way to record important details that works for you, whether it be a planner, digital calendar, or even a note on your phone. What may seem insignificant or far away in the moment can quickly and easily become a major stressor down the road, so try your best to write down everything you can. If it doesn’t end up being necessary, all you have to do is cross it off your list.

Bonus Time Management Tips

Here are some additional tips that can also help you make the most of your time management while in college:

  • Keep A Log: Make notes on how long it takes you to do the assignments for each class. That way you'll know which classes require more studying when test time rolls around. 

  • Schedule Time For Sleep: This may seem silly, but it's often incredibly helpful. You likely need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night to deliver your peak performance, and it can be difficult to ensure you get those hours without a plan to do so.

  • Keep Checklists: Checklists can be a great way to organize everything you need to get done in a day or week. You can even rely on color-coordination to organize different types of tasks, like readings, papers, or homework assignments. Prioritize your lists to ensure that the most important things are getting done first.

  • Stay Healthy: Eat right, get the right amount of sleep, and try to work in some exercise, when possible. After all, it can be a lot harder to get things done and do them well if you feel like you’re running on empty. 

Interested in learning some more time management tips? It may be beneficial to work with someone who can give you personalized advice and techniques to address your individual needs. Connecting with a mental health professional like a therapist can be a great way to do just that.

Busy students may be especially likely to benefit from online therapy, which can allow you to meet with a therapist at a time and from a location that fits your schedule. Plus, there’s no need to feel limited by the availability of local professionals – you can find someone who you work well with regardless of where you’re going to school.

Online therapy has been found to be an effective treatment method for various mental health concerns, including the stress and challenges that can accompany life as a college student. In fact, one study analyzing the benefits of online therapy for university students found that it could significantly reduce “psychological distress,” which may make it easier to tackle personal and academic goals. 


Learning to manage time can prove to be a challenge at any age, but it may be especially difficult when you’re in college. Finding ways to juggle fun, school, and discovering what it means to be a young adult can be tough but taking steps to work on your skills slowly and consistently may make a huge difference. With the assistance of time management tools, students can track their tasks and deadlines which can increase their productivity.

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