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Time management tips for students

April 21, 2022
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If you are considering going back to school to finish your bachelor’s degree, you may have thought about how you will fit the classes and assignments into your life. As you balance work, family, friends and other obligations, where will schoolwork fit in? This is an important question to consider. It’s also equally important to know that finishing your degree while working full-time and balancing other commitments is possible. How?

The answer is effective time management.

Is time management a strength for you? Could your skills be brushed up? No matter where you fall on the spectrum of time management expertise, we can all benefit from a review of the best tips for time management in college. Read on to learn why time management is essential, even when you are enrolled in an online program, and to get a refresher on the best time management tips for students.

Online flexibility and time management go hand in hand

Online learning, especially over the last couple of years, has been cemented as a popular option for undergraduates and graduate students alike. Saving on the time and costs that come with moving for school, or commuting to campus each week, is huge. The opportunity to learn and get your work done on your own time holds a certain appeal. You will often see asynchronous classes (meaning you do not have to attend your classes at a fixed time) touted as the perfect solution for a student with a busy schedule outside of school. And it is … unless time management is a weakness.

With proper management of your time, you will not need to worry about falling behind, in your classes or your job. Time management in college (and life in general) is a muscle that needs consistent training. The more you work at it, the better you will get.

Top tips to successfully manage your time and finish your degree

Check out the following time management tips to see what resonates with you. What have you tried? What tips do you want to try? With proper application and a healthy dose of tenacity, you will be able to finish your degree.

Set your schedule and write it down

This advice may seem obvious, but it is easy to forget that making a schedule and writing it down is a core tenet of time management. It is recommended that you get started by breaking your day into 30 minute increments and filling in each commitment you have that is non-negotiable.1 This will include work, any fixed courses you are taking and time to study and complete assignments. Take this a step further and schedule in sleep, which can often be the first thing to go when time gets tight. Try not to let your sleep get cut short, as taking a hit to your physical or mental health is all around detrimental.

Aim to create a healthy schedule that you can make into a routine you will stick to. This might take you a couple of tries, and it might not always be perfect. When you get off track, forgive yourself and get back to your plan.

Create your ideal study space

Knowing yourself is important in this tip. Do you need silence to study? Is background noise your best friend? Most people benefit from a quiet, organized, distraction free space to work, especially for instances where you need to be on a Zoom call or need to focus for a quiz. You might not have the ideal spot in your home or apartment to build your ultimate work space, but this tip is all about working with what you have to meet your study needs. Get creative and find a quiet corner that does not put you smack dab in the middle of your living room where kids or roommates can distract you. Make sure you have a good surface to work on and have all the tools you need within reach.

Plan to have your study space set up before classes begin to start off on the right foot. However, as with the scheduling tip above, do not be afraid to try another set up (or two, or three) if you find your initial set up is not working. Once in a while, it can also be beneficial to work from a new space, like a coffee shop, to shake things up when you find yourself in a rut that is causing procrastination.

Speaking of procrastination….

Push past procrastination

You have your written schedule and your perfect work space all set up. Now, it’s smooth sailing, right? When you are starting something new, your energy and enthusiasm are likely at a high. However, over time, a tendency to procrastinate can creep in. It happens to all of us, so having ideas to overcome procrastination in your back pocket will save you time and stress.

Ideas to get you going:

  • Banish all or nothing thinking. You do not have to write your entire paper in one night, or read 200 pages at once. Break projects into smaller chunks so that they will seem less daunting. Even setting a timer for two minutes to get started on something can help, as getting started is usually the hardest part.2
  • Remove distractions. Keep any distractors (phones, gaming equipment, pleasure reading, etc.) out of your workspace.
  • Work for a reward. What are you using to procrastinate? Social media? Cleaning? Hanging out with a pet? Set a work goal, whether its finishing an assignment or working for a set amount of time, and reward yourself with whatever you were using to procrastinate.
  • Mix it up. If a project has you stuck, switch to another assignment, or try working on it in another place to give your mind a bit of a reset.

Make the sacrifice

Your schedule is going to be tighter while you are working toward your degree and you are going to need to prioritize your studies over your down time. As such, you will have to make sacrifices. While it is important to have down time to keep yourself from getting burned out, that time you spend relaxing might look different than it did before you started your classes. You might not be able to binge the latest show and get all your school work done. Make reasonable adjustments, like watching just one episode at a time, to balance out your relaxation time and get your work done in a timely manner.

Remember that you will not be a student forever, unless you happen to be the rare type to make a career of being a student. This fuller schedule has a set endpoint for you to work toward. Remind yourself why you are putting in this work for your degree and the benefits waiting for you upon graduating.

  1. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from verywellmind.com/time-management-tips-for-working-students-2161979
  2. Retrieved April 8, 2022, from thrivemyway.com/time-management-college-students/