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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.

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