Six Time Management Tips For College Students

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti, M.Ed, LPC
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Time management can be one of the most complicated facets of college life. College students often have a much larger amount of control over their schedules than they did during high school; but they also typically have more responsibilities. Effective time-management skills can help students balance academic tasks, social lives, and other obligations.

When time-management techniques are mastered by college students, they can provide benefits long after graduation. In fact, research indicates that such skills are correlated with increased job satisfaction, reduced stress, and improved overall health.

If you’re currently navigating college life, there are several steps you can take to organize your time effectively. In this article, we’re providing you with six tips that can help you prioritize tasks, create a functional schedule, and make the most of your time in college.

Want to learn how to manage your time effectively?

1. Take advantage of digital tools

With the significant number of apps, sites, and programs that are available these days, we have a variety of powerful tools for managing our time. Utilizing these resources as a college student can help you stay as organized as possible. Google Calendar is one such tool—a feature-rich digital planner that can help you keep track of assignments, class times, exams, and other activities. As with many apps, Google Calendar also allows you to schedule reminders. So, if you have an important paper due at the end of the semester, you can set an event in your calendar for the day that the paper is due, and then schedule regular reminders. 

A digital calendar can be helpful because it allows you to keep important information in a location that can't be lost or thrown away. Additionally, it can help you optimize your time. By looking at your days, weeks, or months at a glance, you may notice that you’re overscheduling during certain periods. Efficiently allocating your time between tasks, appointments, and classes may help you avoid burnout and maintain a balanced schedule. 

2. Consider grouping classes together

Some students believe that if they schedule their classes throughout the day, with plenty of time between, they’ll use those periods off to study, catch up on homework, or be productive in other ways. This isn’t always the case, though. Instead, students often find that it’s easy to use that downtime between classes to engage in less productive activities.

To avoid this, consider scheduling your classes closer together, in blocks. For example, ensuring all your classes are scheduled before noon allows you to use the rest of the day to tend to other responsibilities. Another option is to try and dedicate certain days of the week to class and others to things like doing homework or studying, socializing, or taking care of personal tasks. Focusing on one or two main commitments at a time may help you get more done.

Getty/Vadym Pastukh

3. Go to class

While skipping class may seem like an easy way to save time or catch up on other commitments, it can cause problems in the long run. 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 a class you're struggling with. However, this may cause you to fall behind, especially if it becomes a habit.

Realizing you’ve missed an important lecture or an impromptu pop quiz, for example, may leave you scrambling and using up more time than you would have by attending class. You may also unintentionally set yourself up for more of a time commitment in the future—for example, if there are concepts you missed that are going to appear on an exam, studying may take more time than it would’ve if you’d attended class.

4. Do the readings in advance

One of the biggest obstacles for many college students is assigned readings. Many students overlook reading assignments, assuming they'll glean the important points by attending the lecture or covering the information 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, enhance your understanding of important concepts, and identify the topics you might need to ask questions about. Reading can help save you time overall, even if you have to invest a bit more upfront. 

5. Utilize your breaks

It is generally healthy for the mind and body to rest after extended periods of exertion. Time off can help you relax and regroup before getting back to work. But spring and winter breaks in college are often long, and many students struggle to get back into the swing of their regular schedule once they’re over. Additionally, studies suggests that too much leisure time can affect our level of life satisfaction. 

To avoid disrupting the schedule you’ve developed, try to optimize your time by engaging in productive activities during breaks. This doesn’t necessarily have to include studying or completing assignments. It may simply mean getting organized for the next semester (or the rest of the current one), re-evaluating academic goals, or developing a new skill. Whether it includes working a part-time job, catching up with friends, or making time to better yourself, using your free time intentionally can make a significant difference once you get back to school. 

6. Write everything down

If you rely on your memory to keep you organized, you may find it hard to remember due dates, allocate sufficient time for assignments, and recall the dates and times of important events. To avoid this, it can help to find a method of recording 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 become a substantial 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 strategies that can help you optimize your time while in college:

  • Track your activity: At the beginning of each semester, consider making notes on how long it takes you to complete assignments, study, or otherwise prepare for your classes. Once you have a sufficient amount, you may have a better idea of how much time you need to allocated to each class. 
  • Schedule time for sleep: Quality rest is important for your cognitive function, mental and emotion well-being, and physical health. The optimal amount of sleep for adults is between seven and eight hours. And it can be difficult to ensure you get those hours without a plan, so try to go to sleep and wake up at similar times each day. 
  • Keep checklists:  To-do lists can be effective ways of doing everything you need to get done in a day or week. You can color-code your checklists to separate different types of tasks, like readings, papers, or homework assignments. Consider further organizing your lists by prioritizing tasks to ensure that the most important things are getting done first.
  • Stay healthy: Your ability to perform well in school can be significantly affected by your physical health. Try to eat a balanced diet, get the above-suggested amount of sleep, and exercise regularly, when possible. Focusing on your overall well-being can provide you with more energy, focus, and balance. 
Want to learn how to manage your time effectively?

Navigating college with online therapy

Interested in learning more time management tips? If you’re a college student, or you’re simply interested in organizing your time more effectively, it may be beneficial to work with someone who can give you personalized advice and help you develop techniques to address your individual needs. 

Online therapy has been found to be an effective treatment method for various mental health concerns, including the stress and emotional challenges that can accompany life as a college student. In a study analyzing the benefits of online therapy for university students, researchers found that this form of treatment may which may make it easier to address personal and academic goals. 

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 the right therapist for you regardless of where you’re going to school.


Learning to manage time can be a challenge at any age, but it may be especially difficult when you’re in college. Finding ways to balance your social life, academic tasks, and other responsibilities can be difficult; but taking the above steps can help you navigate college life and flourish. If you’d like further support managing your time and addressing the challenges of being a student, consider connecting with a licensed therapist online. Matching with a qualified professional can be a constructive next step toward a balanced, productive life.
Construct a healthy time management routine
The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet started