Time Management Tips for College Students: A Cheat Sheet

The key to success is time management.

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Procrastination is poison to college students, many of whom put things off until only one thing is piled higher than work: stress. Don’t avoid the library throughout semester; it won’t bite. There’s nothing worse than failing an assignment that you could have aced just because you didn’t leave yourself with enough time to complete it.

Instead of cramming the night before, practice tactics to breeze through the semester. The following tips are baby steps to take well before assignments are due. Try them out. Who knows! Maybe you’ll wind up with time to spare.

Charlie holding the golden ticket

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory / Giphy

1. Read your syllabus.

On the first day of class, you should receive a syllabus, essentially a list of assignments and material you will cover over the next few months. Your professor is giving you the golden ticket so that you can get acquainted with requirements, mentally prepare yourself, and plan your schedule accordingly.

2. Keep your room and resources organized.

Keep your notes, books, and other resources in a safe place. Were your books kicked under the bed? Are they under the pile of laundry you never folded? The last thing you need during crunch time is to waste precious minutes looking for your books under all of that clutter. You also don’t want to sit down to get work done and quickly lose focus because you can barely see the surface of your desk.

3. Keep an agenda.

Track your weekly assignments and schedule times to complete your work. Add all of the assignments from each of your syllabi to your agenda.

4. Give yourself wiggle room.

Round up when you set aside time for homework. That agenda should show you a fair amount of free time. Before you block it all off with dinner dates with friends, remember that last-minute obstacles are bound to come up, so leave some space for the unexpected.

5. Make a checklist.

It feels good to cross things off. Give yourself a mental boost by creating daily “to-do” lists. Use an app like EverNote to take it with you on the go.

6. Plan ahead.

Plan your day and your year. Remind yourself that to plan is to prepare and to prepare is to set yourself up for success!

7. Always look to improve organization.

It’s easy to slack on organization when the semester gets busy, but finding ways to keep new notes in order is useful. Keep up with your organization and find different hacks that work for you.

Kanye West in front of fake clouds and a fake sun smiling with the text "you have distracted me from my creative process"

Kanye / Giphy

8. Protect yourself from distractions.

Don’t go to your friend’s apartment to watch the VMAs and expect to crank out a five-page paper during the commercial breaks. In an environment like that, you can’t successfully multitask. Avoid environments that distract you or encourage you to procrastinate.

9. Healthy body, healthy mind.

Eating healthy foods can prepare your brain for trying nights at the library. You can also take breaks and exercise your body. Your brain will thank you.

Remember, it’s okay to say no to a night out with friends. Don’t let FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) pressure you into misusing your time or stop you from passing important classes. Manage your time wisely to ensure success, have a little wiggle room, and ward off unnecessary stress. Who knows? Maybe you won’t miss that dinner date after all.

About Katelyn Brush

Katelyn likes learning, good health, traveling, and pizza on Fridays. Her mixed education, composed of SUNY the College at Brockport, a semester at a community college, and one abroad at the University of Oxford, helped her earn a bachelor’s degree in English. College also gave her a few lessons in Taekwondo and sleeping in a hostel dorm with total strangers. She’s a yoga teacher, author and illustrator of the children’s book, “Signing Together: A Guide to American Sign Language for Everyone.” As a Student Caffé writer, she hopes to help you through the highs and lows of college with a laugh ... or 20.

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