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7 Helpful Time Management Activities for College Students

Time management is probably one of the most important skills for surviving and thriving in college — and in life. It’s a wonder more schools don’t include it as a class for freshmen. Juggling classes, labs, study time, work, exercise, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, parties, and sleep is a major challenge. These tips will help you create an organized life so you can succeed at everything you do!

1. Use a Planner

Whether it’s an app or a plain old spiral notebook, a planner is essential for keeping track of your schedule. Don’t make the mistake of telling yourself you’ll remember it all. Use only one system, and write down everything — including time to sleep and time to play!

2. Determine Your Priorities

Speaking of sleep and play, some people need more of some activities than others. Effective time management depends on your body’s needs, your personal values, and your ability to prioritize. If you can get by on six hours of sleep, that’s great. But if you know you need at least eight hours in order to function, don’t even pretend that six will work.

3. Go to Class

First of all, you’re probably paying top dollar for those classes. Second, trying to make up for what you have missed almost always takes longer than the actual class would have. Borrowing notes and doubling up on assignments is a pain. So save yourself time and trouble and go. Go in your pajamas and shades if you have to. Just show up. And some instructors give attendance points, so why not maximize your grade just by breathing in the right room?

4. If At First You Don’t Succeed…

If you try using a planner and it doesn’t work for you, don’t give up. Try something else. The cold, hard truth of modern adult life is that you have to get in the habit of scheduling your day. There’s just too much going on to wing it without missing something. Find the system that works for you. It doesn’t have to be the hottest thing on the market. You might do better by downgrading your system to something simpler.

5. Leave Some Room

Remember that you need time to commute between activities, use the bathroom, grab a drink, and so forth. Don’t sandwich things so tightly that you have no room to breathe. Include time cushions between appointments as much as you can. You’ll also want to block out large chunks of free time to accommodate those unexpected things, such as a midnight fast-food run or “Game of Thrones” or “True Detective” marathon.

6. Just Say “No”

You can’t do it all and expect to get good grades and graduate on time. Once in a while, you’re going to have to turn down a party in favor of sleep, or a workout in favor of extra study time. Remember those priorities we talked about earlier? Write them down if you have to. Number them in order of importance. Then, when faced with two choices, you’ll easily know what to do. You may not always make the best choice, but most of the time, you’ll be able to stick to your guns.

7. Plan for Next Semester

You can try to arrange next semester’s class schedule to suit you better. If you spent most of the current semester hitting Snooze or skipping those 8 a.m. classes, do everything you can to avoid early morning courses. And if you ended up with weird chunks of time between classes that were too short to do anything productive, try to schedule next semester’s courses back to back. Get them all out of the way, and then you’ll be left with larger chunks of time that are more flexible for your needs. Tell your advisor about your priorities, and he or she can help you work out an ideal class plan.

Time management doesn’t have to be a drag. Once you go through this list and get in the habit of planning, it will become second nature. And you’re sure to see an improvement in your grades and your overall quality of life.