Time management for students: how to properly organize your time


Time management is an important skill for all college students. Managing your time will help you cope with the challenges of studying.

Get Organized

Organizing and meeting academic obligations is a constant activity, a battle, and a chore for all students.

If you are just out of high school, you will find yourself in a much less structured environment. On the one hand, you may have more free time, but you also need to develop independent study skills. Many students need to organize their study time around work responsibilities and depending on your circumstances, you may need to allocate your time carefully to balance family and personal obligations. Time-management is an important skill to help you get better organized and manage the stress of studying. Use online resources to improve your time management strategies or seek advice from on-campus student support services. 

Planning is meaningful for time management

Planning is key to organization, and you should start at the beginning of the week or today. The skills you gain by learning to manage your time will always be useful to you as a student, but can also help you in other aspects of your daily life.

Tips for managing your time include:

  1. Develop the habit of listing your tasks and placing them in order of priority, which means that you do the urgent tasks first. You can use headings such as “must do” and “would like to do,” or number tasks in order. Mark them when you’re done.
  2. Make short-, medium-, and long-term plans. For example, write study plans for the day, week, semester, and year.
  3. Make yourself a yearly plan or calendar. Keep it handy in your study environment so you can see it right away. Write down important dates, assignment deadlines, and exam schedules in your planner. It’s a good idea to write each assignment in a different color pen. Estimate the time you will need to complete each task. Write the start date of each assignment in your planner.
  4. Use a schedule diary for weekly planning – many institutions of higher education provide diaries for students, and they contain important information as well. Write down each commitment for the week (such as your classes, trips to and from the university, meal times, work, social activities with family and friends, and regular sports). Write down the start dates for each task in your journal. Then evaluate each day and find empty time slots that you can devote to studying.
  5. Don’t worry if unexpected events cause you to miss a study period. Your planner is just a guide. Be flexible in your approach and reschedule your study period.
  6. Discover your learning style and experiment with learning methods to find out what works best for you. That way, you’ll get the most out of your study time. Ask yourself questions such as: “Am I a morning person or an evening person?” and “Where do I learn best?”
  7. Be persistent and learn to say “no”-this can help you prevent excessive time commitment.
  8. Have some exam strategies and ways to deal with exam stress. Exam periods require a different approach to time management as you review and prepare for final grades. Time management during the semester is one of the best long-term exam strategies.
  9. Be realistic – don’t set impossible goals, such as six hours of active study without a break. Sometimes it’s OK to buy essay cheap. Reward yourself for your efforts and plan to have some fun and rest so you don’t experience burnout.

Simple time management tips:

  1. Take advantage of small portions of your free time – such as traveling on public transportation to reread lecture notes, make assignment plans, or proofread your work.
  2. Solve small tasks as you get them.
  3. Always keep something handy to jot down ideas. Write down any valuable thoughts you might have while you’re waiting for your meal in the cafeteria.
  4. Take a few minutes to make a plan for each task. Break down the various tasks and list them in order of priority.

Time management – avoid procrastination

Procrastination means putting off important things until another time, so you spend your study time doing other things. This is a big problem for many students, so try not to let it disrupt your studies.

Try to figure out what’s causing you to procrastinate – then you’ll be in a better position to do something about it. Regularly break down what seems like a big task into manageable pieces. Prepare drafts of your work in advance. Think about making changes to your learning environment and reducing distractions.

Manage your time wasters

  • Identify your own “time wasters” and develop strategies to manage them. Common time wasters and ways to deal with them include:
  • Television, DVDs, YouTube – Plan what you watch rather than browsing through channels looking for something interesting, or make watching a program a reward for studying.
  • Internet, email, social networking sites – limit the amount of time you spend online. Avoid the temptation to constantly check posts and update your social networking site when you’re working at your computer.
  • Video games – resist the urge to be spontaneous and instead schedule game time for the week, perhaps as a reward for performance.
  • Phone and text messaging – responding to every message as it comes in can disrupt your learning. Use voicemail and set aside time to catch up on calls.
  • Housework and housekeeping – Use the times when you are most attentive to your studies and schedule household chores for other times.


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