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Time Management for College Students: 5 Rookie Mistakes That Cause Overwhelm

Time management for college students


Time management for college students is about getting everything done…and still having time for friends and fun.

Do you ever feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day?

Maybe you’ve been through something like this:

You start with plenty of time and a plan to finish your assignments by dinner. Then you realize that you don’t have anything to wear tomorrow so you head for the laundry — and it takes forever for clothes to dry.

On your way back, your friends suggest going out for Hawaiian pizza. Who can resist that?

When you finally decide to unwind (Netflix has a way of helping with that), you suddenly remember a paper you have to finish for your ten o’clock class. So you haul your books to the couch while you and Netflix continue to bond.

At 1:37 AM, you decide to call it a night.

You made it work, but in the morning you’re exhausted, so you bump your alarm clock back an hour to get some extra zzz’s.

Time Management for College Students: 5 Rookie Mistakes That Affect Your College Lifestyle

Here’s the thing: you can enjoy the fun of last minute pizza dinners with friends and get your assignments done with plenty of time to spare. All you have to do is to learn a few basic principles about time management for college students.

After all, wasn’t it Einstein who defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over expecting different results?

1. Not Saying No to Things That Don’t Really Matter

Overwhelm isn’t about having too much to do. Overwhelm happens when you don’t say no enough.

For most students, college means more than classes. There are concerts, parties, lectures, weekend trips, and Netflix bingeing. One of the great things about college is that you have so many choices.

But the more options you have, the more you have to know what’s really important to you. Think about your personal goals. What do you need to do to reach them?

If you stop to think about it, you might realize that maybe this isn’t the best night for pizza and Netflix. Maybe you could skip the pizza altogether and meet your friends on the weekend instead.

Time management for college students means that before you say “yes,” you should ask yourself two key questions: 1) Does this help with a top priority; and 2) Is this the best time for it to happen?

You might be surprised how much better your night plays out sans pizza and how much better the socializing is when you don’t have a nagging feeling in the back of your mind.

2. Not Creating Dedicated Study Time

Great athletes and performers in all fields have one thing in common: they set aside dedicated periods of practice.

By blocking out certain times for studying — preferably early in the day — you will learn faster and understand more.

During each study block, focus on just one thing — doing background research for your humanities paper, tackling a set of chemistry problems, or really learning the past tense subjunctive for Spanish.

For an hour at a time, just focus.

Dedicated study time means saying no to distractions — phone calls, texts, email, quick questions from roommates. If you can really focus for an hour, it will save you two hours later on.

Multitasking is counterproductive. Not only does it slow down understanding and memory, but it takes you twice as long to accomplish anything. Not creating dedicated study time steals valuable free time from you. Time management for college students means blocking out several periods of time a day to get things done.

By allotting specific hours in your schedule for studying, your undivided attention will catapult you into fuller comprehension and more time in your schedule for the fun stuff.

Time management for college students 23. Not Making a Daily To-Do List

You’ve probably noticed what happens to your phone when you have a dozen apps open at once. It’s pretty hard on the battery.

The same thing happens in your brain.  Trying to remembering every little thing that needs to be accomplished in your daily life wreaks havoc with your memory, and creates a kind of “low battery” scenario in your brain.

Not only do you forget about some of the items on your mental list altogether (like laundry and going to the post office the last minute study group), but storing those things in your “working memory” makes it harder to absorb a lecture or work a problem.

Time management for college students means getting your to-do list out of your headspace and onto paper or into a digital app.

When you do, you feel less scattered and get more done.

You’ll also want to make sure your list is realistic, and that you have it with you all the time.

4. Not Taking Work with You

Get in the habit of thinking a few steps ahead of yourself. For example, bring your biology word list with you to the laundry.

Other great times to work on the go include your commute, waiting times, and even in between classes. Time management for college students means using your time well.

Every moment you spend working while you wait is more time you can spend doing something you love when you’re not waiting!

5. Not Getting Work Done Before Dinner so Your Evenings are Free

One great way to find more free time is to clear out your nights. That dedicated study time in #2 above — make sure it happens early the day. Instead of taking it easy in the morning or hanging out for a 2-hour lunch, use the daytime hours to focus.

Mornings are almost always yours to plan. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “morning person,” you can get more done in the morning than at any other time.

In the afternoon, anything can happen. Your friend might suggest doing your econ homework together. A professor might add some extra reading for the next day. And for most college students, there’s a lot of social stuff happening in the evening.

If you plan effectively, it will be a rare evening that you spend doing homework — even during finals week when your friends are cramming.

Instead, you’ll spend your evenings relishing the sweet taste of freedom.

Small Steps Equal Big Progress

Making big changes in your life calls for a series of small steps. By making simple changes, you can stay on top of your work and reduce stress.

The 5 rookie mistakes that cause overwhelm are related to a difficulty saying no — to the things that aren’t a priority, to distractions during study time, to things that aren’t on your to-do list, and to letting distraction steal your most focused and productive daytime hours.

By addressing these mistakes,you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.

You’ll wave goodbye to stress, do better academically, and be much more likely to enjoy clean sheets!