Hand holding small white alarm clock with time at 2:17

How to Manage Your Time as a Student

Staying on top of all your tasks can be tough as a student, but with a little planning and some organization, you can keep up with your busy schedule with ease.

Managing your time was already difficult, but it just got even more challenging as students transition to online learning and try to stay productive during these strange times. We hope these tips still help get you organized and navigate your new routine! When you first start college, you’re excited to make new friends and meet your professors. However, it’s also crucial to learn how to manage your time. With classes, clubs, friends, part-time work, and more, you’ll need to stay on top of your schedule to keep your grades up and thrive. Not sure how to juggle your commitments and keep up with college? Here are five time management tips to help you make the most of your college career.

Invest in a planner

When it comes to time management for college students, one essential step is to get a planner and schedule your to-dos. This method makes it easy to keep track of everything on your plate, whether it’s writing a paper, going to a symposium, meeting with a professor, or making time for assigned reading. Beyond classes and school activities, you can also use your planner to schedule extracurriculars such as sports games and spending time with friends. To take your organization to the next level, use highlighters to color-code your calendar.

Set goals and priorities

To manage your time effectively, it’s crucial to know where your priorities lie. To start, consider both your long- and short-term goals. Maybe you want an A in a particular class or to graduate with honors. Next, consider what priorities you can set in place to achieve these goals. For example, say your long-term objective is to get into a graduate program. Therefore, your priorities may be to study for the graduate record examination (GRE) and ask trusted professors for recommendations.

Related: Video: Setting Goals for the School Year

Identify time wasters

We all procrastinate from time to time. To ensure you’re arranging your schedule wisely, it’s smart to identify your top time wasters. This project management principle is something anyone can learn and benefit from, especially in a school setting.

Distractions may include social media, television, your roommates, or other things. To eliminate these time sinks, you may need to put away all digital devices like your laptop and smartphone. If you like to chat with your friends, you may need to schedule your study time in the library or another place where you’re not tempted to hangout or chat.

Do one task at a time

Do you like to work on more than one project at a time? If so, you could be doing yourself a disservice. According to one study, multitasking significantly lowers performance compared to completing one item at a time. When you switch back and forth, you waste time recalling the rules, details, and steps needed to complete each task. When you have multiple tasks to complete in your planner, don’t start them all at once. Instead, tackle the hardest first and work your way down to the easiest. If you find yourself getting bored or distracted, don’t skip ahead. Instead, take a short break and come back to it later.

Take breaks wisely

You may think hitting the books for hours on end will make you student of the year. Your attention span, however, can only last so long before it begins to wane. The most productive people take breaks when they experience mental fatigue. According to experts, brief diversions from a task can significantly improve your ability to focus for extended periods. After 50 minutes of hard work, make yourself a cup of tea or go for a short walk. When you come back, you'll feel refreshed, energized, and ready to take on anything.

Related: Favorite Study Breaks

College comes with a lot of commitments—but they don’t have to overwhelm you. With the right schedule, a set of goals, and the power of focus, you'll be able to tackle any challenge that comes your way.

Need more studying and time management advice? Check out our Student Life and Test Prep sections.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

college schedule student goals student life study tips time management

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo


Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Tinuola Dada

Tinuola Dada

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2015

I am very excited to be this year's recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship. This scholarship will bring me ever closer to my academic and professional goals. CollegeXpress has been an exceptional resource to me, and I recommend it to all rising seniors as they begin to navigate the college application process.



High School Class of 2019

CollegeXpress has helped me by opening my eyes to new opportunities. I learned about such easy ways to get financial help to achieve my dreams while also learning about myself and who I truly am. I know this isn't a very long explanation of what CollegeXpress has done for me, but nonetheless, I believe it's crucial to how I developed as a person throughout my time as a college student.

Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.

Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.

President and Founder, College Connections

I frequently visit CollegeXpress to answer questions from students and parents. There are countless hot topics in admissions that need to be addressed. I enjoy reading what my colleagues post and gain additional insight from different perspectives.

Hailey Riddile

Hailey Riddile

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships to apply for and look into more colleges. While there are many websites similar to CollegeXpress, every website is different, and I've found a lot of good insight on this website. Receiving emails from CollegeXpress about scholarships is extremely useful, and getting insight about colleges near, far, and anywhere in between helps me narrow down my choices to what I want, which is also super helpful. The articles are always really good reads, and I can't stress enough how helpful this website has been to me. Anything related to college is beneficial to me as a senior, and I have learned lots of useful things to help me on my college journey this year.

Melanie Kajy

Melanie Kajy

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously during my senior year of high school. I started off using the college search to find more information about the universities I was interested in. Just this tool alone gave me so much information about a particular school. It was my one-stop shop to learn about college. I was able to find information about college tuition, school rank, majors, and so much more that I can't list it all. The college search tool has helped me narrow down which college I want to attend, and it made a stressful process surprisingly not so stressful. I then moved to the scholarship search tool to find scholarships to apply for because I can't afford to pay for tuition myself. The search tool helped me find scholarships that I was eligible for. The tool gave me all the information I could ever need about a particular scholarship that was being offered. The CollegeXpress scholarship search tool is so much better than other tools offered, like the Chegg scholarship search. Thanks to CollegeXpress, I was able to apply to tons of scholarships in a relatively easy way!

College Matches