Better Time Management in 3 Simple Steps

Putting off another assignment? These techniques can help students battle the bad habit of procrastination to make the most of your precious time.

Time management is a skill that comes easily to some but is a foreign concept to others. I’m sure we all have that one friend (or maybe you are that friend!) who always waits until the last minute to do everything. You all know what I’m talking about. The temptress of time management skills: procrastination.

Now, maybe you’re reading this and internally pointing a few fingers at yourself, and that’s entirely okay. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right? But seriously—everyone battles with that slick monster that somehow always manages to sneak in and get us off focus and, in the end, leaves us rushing to meet our deadlines. In our world, everything revolves around the one thing we never seem to have enough of: time. And more often than not, we are too quick to push off work that we’d rather not be doing, and it snowballs into one giant accumulation that we just can’t outrun.

So how can we deal with this lack of productivity? Is it really possible to learn how to make the most of our time, to stay on top and on track of all of the deadlines we face on a daily basis?

The answer is yes. It may not be easy, but with a little dedication, anyone can become a master in the field of time management. As someone who can’t stand to be weighed down by accumulated deadlines, but is also familiar to the vices of procrastination, I have a few techniques you can use to help you battle this bad habit and make the most of your time.

1. Schedule, schedule, schedule!!!

Keeping track of your schedule is the first and most important technique when it comes to managing your time better. Do yourself a favor and invest in a planner; you won’t regret it. While using a planner may seem a little bit cheesy, it’s a great way to remember and keep track of everything you have going on. Don’t just plan out basic things, like what days you have a hair appointment or when your next visit to the dentist is. Get into the practice of using it for your classes as well. In my personal planner, I keep track of after-school activities and any sports events or concerts I have to attend. I also pencil in my work schedule, and then I write down all of my class assignments. And I color code everything.

While this may sound a little intense at first, making a list and getting things out of your head and on paper really helps you feel more in control of your situation and helps alleviate stress levels. Once it’s all written out in your planner, you can see what conflicts you have and what moments you have free, then you can rework to make everything as convenient as possible and stay on top of those deadlines.

2. Prioritize

The next technique that is really going to help get you started on your path to better time management is learning to prioritize. Now that you have everything laid out in your planner so it’s easy and convenient to view, figure out which things are most important and complete those tasks first. For example, it wouldn’t make sense to start working on a presentation that isn’t due until the end of the month when you have a test you need to study for that’s coming up the following week. Study for the test first, because the deadline is more prominent, and then you can make that next move to get a head start on your project. The ability to prioritize will take you a long way in life. Figure out the things that are the most important to you, and make time for them, but be careful not to neglect other responsibilities.

3. Get motivated

This may be the hardest step in becoming a better time manager. In order to get things done, you have to actually have the motivation to do them. This takes discipline and some serious work ethic, and even then, sometimes it’s still not enough. When I find myself with a complete and utter lack of motivation, I like to make a sort of reward system for myself and find ways to make getting work done a little more interesting.

Reading is something I particularly enjoy doing in my free time. So a lot of the time, when I really need some motivation, I make a deal with myself: do the work, then you get to read. Or, do this project, and you can buy yourself a new book. This really helps get me motivated. Sometimes it can be even simpler, like watching Netflix while simultaneously doing my math homework, or studying in segments with breaks in between. I’ve even seen people use candy to reward themselves as a treat after they hit a certain checkpoint in their work and/or studies.

While these three things won’t make you a master at time management right off the bat, they will definitely help you get started and stay on the right track. I have been putting these three methods into practice throughout all my years of education, and even though I still occasionally fall into a procrastination slump, I have always been able to manage my time well and stay on top of all of my deadlines, both in school and beyond.

Putting these skills into practice will not just help you succeed in the educational world but in all aspects of life. With the school year coming to a close, and, for many of us, college right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to pull yourself into action and try out these time management techniques for yourself.

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


About Katie E. Warner

Hey everyone! If you're reading this, then I guess you want to know a bit about me, so here goes! My name is Katie, and I'm an aspiring novelist/editor, a bit of an English nerd, and a lot of a bibliophile. I like drinking tea, especially when it's raining, but not the sweetened kind. When I chance upon a wild flock of free time, I enjoy reading, writing, singing, and theater. Someday I would love to travel all over the world and experience countless adventures, meet new people, and try all the food I could possibly eat!


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
Jada Bohanon

Jada Bohanon

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships for the colleges I applied to. It was very hard for me to find scholarships in the beginning that I was qualified for. My teachers recommended this website to find some, and not only did I find some scholarships but I also got to look into some schools I hadn’t heard of before. I was very happy to have discovered this website, especially with the coronavirus spreading all over as I can’t really go visit many colleges.

Nazira Abdelkhalek

Nazira Abdelkhalek

$2,000 Community Service Scholarship Winner, 2014

I am very honored to be this year’s recipient of the Multicultural Student Community Service Scholarship! This scholarship is vital to helping me achieve and fulfill my dreams, and gives me confidence and motivation as I begin my college career. The CollegeXpress website has been invaluable over the past year as I planned my educational and professional goals. I highly recommend it to all students as they begin to focus on their college and career interests. The website is a wonderful guide to schools and scholarships.



High School Class of 2023

CollegeXpress helped open me up to many colleges that fit my interests. I’m only a sophomore in high school, so I like having a lot to look at, and CX does a great job of picking colleges that meet my wants. It's a great website that I'll continue to use until it comes time for me to apply for colleges. I also like that it notifies me through email with options to look at. Thanks CX!

Leah Maciel

Leah Maciel

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me with all aspects of applying for college. The website is extremely easy to navigate and gives access to so many resources. I was able to research all of the colleges I was interested in, find out any information I wished to know about, and keep them organized in a list. I've also been able to research scholarships and save them as resources for later. I've used many websites in my college and scholarship search, and CollegeXpress has by far been my favorite one to use.

Brooke Maggio

Brooke Maggio

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously in my college search in narrowing down the schools I’m interested in. Using the college search tool, I was able to narrow down my choices to schools that matched what I was looking for. I also used CollegeXpress for their scholarship search, which helped me find scholarships that I meet the requirements of.

College Matches

Colleges You May Be Interested In

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA

SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Utica and Albany, NY