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How to Properly Manage Your Time at College

By Edited Jun 1, 2014 1 2

College is undoubtedly one of the busiest times of anyone's life. Students have to deal with juggling a social life, homework, classes, labs, assignments, and some even have jobs. It can all seem a bit overwhelming at first but if you have mastered proper management of your time, you should have no problem getting things done. You have to prioritize everything you do and still make sure that you have enough time left over for social obligations. Once you do though, you should have no problem meeting every goal you set for your college career.

manage your time

Granted, keeping your priorities in order is a life lesson that everyone has to one day figure out, but for college students the lesson hits pretty hard very early. A student's schedule is often chaotic and may seem unattainable each and every day. Classes don't fall into any particular block of time any more and juggling different hours on different days isn't the best for coinciding with a part time job. Social obligations don't really have set times or dates either so it might seem a bit daunting to expect to fit everything into one person's schedule and moreover, actually plan it.

The first thing anybody who is trying to manage their time needs to do is take some time out to prioritize absolutely everything it is you do. Write down every single activity that makes up your day and begin numbering them in order of importance. At first it might seem a little much but it's really quite easy once you get into it. You might have a hard time figuring out if one things is more important than the next but don't really worry about it, you'll get them both done around the same time. My list includes things like, read the news, do dishes, clean, read books, watch television, write an essay, do homework… you get the idea.

paper stacks

Next you must separate all these activities into one of two categories: those that are integral to you achieving your goals, and those that aren't. In the first group you'll want to make sure you've included things like attending class, doing homework, going to work, studying and things that actually contribute to your success.

The other group should consist mostly of things that you enjoy doing but aren't necessarily integral to your success professionally. In this group you should make sure to include things like social gatherings, hanging out with friends, watching movies, reading and blowing hours and hours looking at nothing on the internet.

The next step in organizing your life involves a plan. This is where you will put everything in order according to priority. You'll want to make sure that you put the things like attending class and work right at the top as those are probably the most important tasks on any student's list. Next you'll want things like study time, preparing presentations and assignments, and then you can work your way down the list and finish with stuff like watching movies.

paper stack

If you have so much on your plate that you absolutely need to do, it will be pretty plain to see and your social engagements will have to be pushed back. Organizing in this way makes it very easy to push things out of your schedule that aren't necessary. For example, some students will have a class schedule that doesn't require so much time actually in class but it is imperative that you spend a great deal of time out of class studying, reading or preparing submissions. In a lot of cases, students lose a lot of time to their jobs. This will also tend to cut into personal activity time but is in most cases a requirement. Depending on your financial situation, your job will take precedence over everything except for studying and going to classes. If you are so broke that you are required to work long hours, perhaps taking fewer courses and spending an extra year at college would work out in the long run. I personally faced this dilemma two years ago. Money because so tight that I had to pick work over school more than once. I learned some lessons and took two fewer courses the next semester, which really helped me focus more on the courses I was taking.

I don't want you to take all this and think that your social life isn't important. People are not robots and we can't just work all the time; social interaction and a little bit of letting loose is a requirement for a healthy lifestyle. If you completely shut yourself off from the world and just work and study for your entire post-secondary career, you might just drive yourself insane. Partying with people you've never met before is part of the whole college experience and if you don't partake in it you aren't getting your money's worth. Although it might not seem like it, these years aren't meant solely for studying. You have to do a lot of growing up here as this is the time you are truly transitioning to becoming an adult and you are being constantly tested by the real world to see if you make the cut.

If your course load is appropriate and you've saved up some cash before going to school you should have no problem making enough time to unwind. Make sure that you stick to your lists that you've made though as it can be addictive to get stuck partying and let the real work fall behind. I think the hardest part about time management during college is actually putting your nose to the grindstone and getting everything done that needs to be done. If you stay optimistic and manage your time properly, you will have no problems getting through college or university and you should still have plenty of time for socializing and partying.

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Additional Tips:

I find that a good old-fashioned day planner was the easiest way to plan my time. Just this year I have started studying online to get my online education degree and it has kept me organized and been a big part of the reason I'm still kicking. I have used numerous electronic organizers and found them to be a little bit more time consuming than a pencil. I made a habbit of never leaving the house without it and it paid me back in spades. Every time somebody would ask me if I could attend something, I could just crack it open and let them know. It was also fantastic for keeping a random to do list so that I never really forgot anything that was worth remembering.

I didn't but I know of people who have attended time management seminars. I assume these are going to be highly detailed and tested methods that would be fantastic for what you might need. On the other hand, they are usually quite costly and I was in no position to be spending any more money.

Although it may seem a daunting task, managing your time properly is really quite an attainable goal. You have to always keep it in the back of your mind that prioritization of all your activities is essential. Every time you do something you should be asking yourself if there's something else more important that deserves your attention. Get your obligations out of the way first and you will actually be able to enjoy your social and personal time without knowing in the back of your mind you've got other things to do.

I think you will find that the methods you tailor to your own personal life will stay with you not only through college or university but for the rest of your life. I use my little system every single day and I know that I would be completely lost without it. I'm the first to show up at a party and constantly calling my friends to see if they want to come over but I make sure that I don't allow myself these luxuries without having all my necessary work done. If you stick to getting the hard stuff out of the way first, you will have no problem succeeding in all your college goals and still have some time left over for fun!



Dec 11, 2009 9:22am
love your use of pictures here...great job :)
May 12, 2010 2:14am
Love the layout.
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