How To Manage Time In College: Top 5 Hacks For College Students

If you’ve ever wondered how to manage time in college, this article is for you. As the semester gets started and your college studies move into high gear, you may find yourself feeling short on time. How will you do all of the reading and homework your professors expect? Will you have time for a part-time job? Will you have any time left over for a social life?

Life as a student is busy. Your day is full of lectures, homework, projects, and studies – and that is before you even think about socializing. While people who work full-time can go home and relax in the evening, college students are never off the clock.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to stop stressing, master time management and take control of your life – even when school is in session. In this article, I will share five principles that will help you simplify life and save time. Experiment with these techniques and make them work for you:

How To Manage Time In College:

1. You decide how to spend your time.

Your time is yours – every minute of it – and that means that you get to decide how to spend it. Start your time management program by owning up to the fact that you are in charge. Sometimes we make excuses for ourselves, like, “I can’t exercise because I don’t have time.” In reality, we should be saying, “I choose not to exercise because I’m not prioritizing it into my schedule.” We are all personally in control of how we spend our time.

You have a choice. Even when a professor says, “Be at the review session at 3 pm today if you want to do well on the exam,” you are still in control because you decide whether to go to the session. The same goes for class attendance, study time, and time spent on homework.

Decide what you want to accomplish this semester with your time. Instead of assuming that “getting good grades” is your goal, take out a notepad and brainstorm what you could accomplish. Then consider the options and narrow them down to what you really want to accomplish.

Resolve to spend your time primarily on tasks that will fulfill your most important goals. A senior trying to line up a post-college job will have very different priorities than a freshman trying to get good grades (e.g., less time studying and more time interviewing). Keep a to-do list to help yourself stay on track for your goals.

SEE ALSO: 10 Best Study Tips For College Students That Will Make School Life Easier

2. Time management means learning to say NO.

In college there are plenty of people willing to plan your time for you – professors and roommates, for example. To be an effective time manager, you cannot let others decide how you will spend your time.

In step 1 above you decided what you wanted to accomplish this semester. Now determine that you will say “no” to tasks that do not fulfill your goals. You have resolved to keep a to-do list. Follow the advice of author Tim Ferriss by also keeping a not-to-do list. Items on that list might include television, unnecessary meetings of all types, unnecessary travel, and any other time waster you encounter in your daily routine. The purpose of the list is to avoid tasks that will steal time from the things you really need to do.

Feel good about saying “no” to other people when they ask you to do things that are not consistent with your goals. College students are supposed to be focused on themselves. You are not a selfish person simply because you choose to be empowered by your own goals. When you take care of yourself first, you will have more energy to spend with your friends when they really need you.

Even professors will tell you to do things that are contrary to your goals. For example, a professor will tell you to do your reading before every class period. But if your goal is to get a good grade, and 80% of the grade is based on the final exam, you would probably be better off spending the entire semester practicing for the final exam instead of reading potentially irrelevant passages in your textbooks.

3. Skipping class = MORE stress.

Although you should seriously consider skipping classes that are a true waste of time, the reality is that attending most class sessions in your college career is an important part of succeeding as a student, and will actually save you time.

The time you save by missing a 90-minute lecture is far outweighed by the tasks you will have to perform to make up for the absence – copying class notes, learning material on your own, and studying extra hard due to uncertainty about what will be on exams.

Also consider the financial side of the equation. You have devoted several years of your life to a college education, and you have probably paid a lot of money as well. If you skip out on your classes, you are simply wasting money. If you calculate how much money you’re spending per college class and then divide it by how many classes there are in a semester, you may be surprised to realize that you skpped out on a class that cost you several hundred dollars.

Unless you have a true emergency, go to class.

4. A healthy lifestyle will save you time.

Sleep deprivation, malnutrition, lack of exercise, and all other forms of unhealthy behavior will make it difficult for you to succeed in your studies. Think about how much time students waste napping during the day because they fail to sleep enough at night. Going to the doctor is another huge time waster.

Time management is not just about the number of hours you have at your disposal. It is also about the amount of productive output you can get from those hours. When you feel good you can accomplish meaningful work much more quickly than when you feel sick. College life requires mental clarity and concentration, so you must take care of your physical health.

Think about your health practices as a student. Are there any changes you could make to feel better and be healthier? Resolve to make at least one change right now – today – that will help you be healthier.

SEE ALSO: How To Deal With a Bad Teacher: 19 Best Tips For Students And Parents

5. You can beat procrastination.

It is natural to put off large, intimidating projects like term papers, but you will be happier and more productive if you attack the unpleasant items on your to-do list first. Here are a few ways to overcome your tendency to waste time by procrastinating:

Break large tasks up into bite-sized pieces and estimate how much time each piece will take. Working backwards from your deadline, schedule in each piece of your task.

Use the 10-minute rule. If you do not feel like working on something, just tell yourself that you will spend ten minutes on it right now, and then stop. Usually, you will spend more than ten minutes and often you will complete the task, but even if you do stop after ten minutes, you will be that much closer to completing the task.

Know when your peak energy time is. If you are a morning person, plan to accomplish your most important work first thing.

Use peer pressure. Study with a friend so that you can make each other study. This obviously works only if your friend has goals similar to your own. If group work is wasting your time then cut it out.

Apply these anti-procrastination principles to all aspects of your life – not just your school work.


Proper time management will reduce frustration, anxiety, and stress, while avoiding the regrets that come from underperforming. You can be happy with yourself, your performance in college, and your social life, all at the same time.

Review the five keys described above and make sure that you have incorporated each of them into your student life. If you will take these five principles to heart, you will be far better at managing your time than the average college student.

Thank you for reading this article how to manage time in college and I really hope that you take action my advice. I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here