10 Time Management tips for college students

Simple steps proven to help you manage your study time more effectively

Clock3 min readCalendarPublished: 24 Jan 2022
AuthorLawrie Jones

Learning to manage time effectively is a crucial skill every college student needs to know. Still, if you’re wondering how to fight procrastination, you’re not alone. A massive 70% of college students admit to procrastinating, finding it difficult to focus on their studies.

A time management strategy is a proactive way to battle procrastination and help you reach your potential. In addition, studying smarter can help you achieve better results, research has found.

In this practical guide, we provide ten time management tips for college students that are tried and tested to work.

Plan and prepare

Effective time management is about having a plan and sticking to it, say academics. “Students who perceived control of their time reported significantly greater evaluations of their performance, greater work and life satisfaction,” researchers found when studying the impact of time management plans on outcomes.

Developing a study plan is an essential part of time management at college. Whether you’re focusing on a semester plan or preparing for your end-of-year exams, a program brings focus and finality.

Set achievable study goals

Setting realistic goals can bring structure to your studying, resulting in higher academic achievement, say researchers. Students with study goals performed better than those without one, researchers found in this 1999 study. “Persistence and effort mediate the relationship between performance-approach goals and exam performance,” they found.

Experts say that goals must be realistic and achievable to work as a motivating factor.

Break studying into blocks

The myth students can only focus for 15 minutes has been proven false. Still, anyone who has sat with their head in a study book knows how hard it can be to focus for long periods. The answer is to break studying into blocks.

The length of each study block depends on you and your attention span, but around 50 minutes (the length of the average college lecture) is realistic.

Keep a study calendar

A study calendar is an integral part of any effective time management plan. Recording what you do and when you do it allows you to track what you’ve done and what’s left to do.

If you’re following time management tip four and breaking your studying into blocks, a color-coded study calendar will help you to plan out your studying, track progress and ensure you’re on track to meet your goals.

Start early

The general rule is to spend 2-3 hours studying on your own for each hour of lectures, but this depends on your familiarity and confidence with the subject matter.

Set your goals, plan out your study program, and begin studying at the start of each semester. Not only will you cover more information, but you’re also establishing a study habit that will last a lifetime.

Use technology

New technology and study aids can transform your time management plans. Online calendars, cloud-based productivity software, and study tools such as Glean can help you improve your time management (and your grades).

Transitioning from a paper-based calendar to an online one, for example, enables you to set study alerts, drag in resources, and more to make studying a more interactive and enjoyable experience.

Tools such as Glean, targeted search engines such as Google Scholar, or practical study aides such as Cite This For Me can save precious time.

Reward achievement

Time management requires serious self-motivation, so you should reward yourself for sticking to a study plan. Rewards should be relative to the achievement but significant enough to match the effort you’ve put in.

Academics studying the impact of incentives on personal achievements found that external rewards can help “increase intrinsic motivation and creativity”. Not only did a reward help students stick to a plan, but they also engaged with tasks in more innovative ways.

Make time for you

Time management is about focusing on your priorities, but in the battle for better grades, don’t forget to take some time to focus on what matters most: your mental health.

Within your plan, ensure there’s time for you to continue to do the things you love. So whether it’s running, riding your bike or relaxing at home with a show or video game, put some time aside for enjoyment.

Manage stress

A time management plan that plots a route can increase motivation and engagement, but rigidly sticking to a plan can cause stress. So it’s crucial that you monitor and manage the stress you’re under and act if it’s getting too much.

Mood tracking apps can help you to manage your mental health. Some students may benefit from meditation and mindfulness. One study found “significant positive relationships between mindfulness and rational coping” among first-year college students in Canada.

Review, reflect & revise

Life can get in the way of even the most comprehensive time management plans for students. You should periodically review your time management plan and assess whether it’s working. Are you sticking to the program? Is it helping you to achieve the results you want?

The ability to reflect on your time management plan and revise it is essential. Spending some time each week analyzing performance and assessing priorities is the secret to a focused time management plan that gets results.

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