Time Management Tips for College Students

Last updated: Jan 31, 2019

So much to do, so little time! Time management can be hard for new college students. Students have new responsibilities, but also spend less time in class and have less structure to their days. To stay on top of school work, experts recommend the following time management tips:

Image of two USF students studyingEat the Frog First

This simply means to start with the most difficult task first. The thought of studying for a midterm or writing a seven-page paper can seem daunting, but there are ways to make big assignments less scary. Consider breaking up the task into something that will take less time each day, such as reading a chapter or creating an outline, to help you feel more in control.

Consider Using the Pomodoro Technique When Studying

It’s easy to get distracted when studying, especially if you’re tackling homework for hours at a time. If you find that your current method of studying isn’t working for you, try the Pomodoro Technique. Here’s how it works:

  • Pick a task to be accomplished.
  • Remove your distractions, such as checking your phone, social media, and email.
  • Set a timer for 25 minutes.
  • Work the entire 25 minutes without any distractions, including checking social media, until the timer goes off.
  • Take a 5 minute break (walk around, grab a drink, check messages, etc.).
  • Every four cycles, you can take a longer break, such as 20-30 minutes.

This method helps some students feel motivated and focused because they know a break is coming.

Use a College Planner

How do you like to keep track of assignments? Consider creating a weekly or daily planner and checking it every day. This helps you keep up with priorities and due dates. We recommend recording important deadlines from your course syllabus in your planner during your first week of classes. Make sure you schedule time just for yourself, too. 

Image of USF student writing a list of priorities

Learn Your Limits

In college, you have the freedom to learn more about yourself. This includes how you want to spend your time and energy. Do you have more energy in the morning, or do you perk up later in the day? Plan your high priority tasks during times when you are more alert. How much socialization do you want? As a new college student, it can be tempting to say yes to every party, event, and club invitation. Remember that it is okay to say no, and schedule time to rest.

For more help on time management or adjusting to college life, check out our USF Success and Wellness Coaching.

Remember to Rest

Sleep influences every part of your health. Nothing works well when you are sleep deprived.  This includes your relationships, study habits, workout schedules, and meal plans. To ensure you get enough sleep, try to set a weekday curfew or include naps in your schedule. It is recommended to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you are having a hard time sleeping, try to create a wind-down routine that begins 30 minutes before you want to go to bed. USF offers sleep packs at the Wellness Centers to help you create this routine.

Include Physical Activity

Not only is exercise a great stress reliever, it also energizes you. That’s why it’s so important to make exercise part of your regular schedule. If you haven’t exercised consistently in the past, or aren’t sure where to start, consider taking a fitness class at USF Campus Rec, or walk the fitness trail on campus a few times a week with a friend. Make sure to pencil your exercise regimen into your daily planner. Including 30 minutes of exercise five days a week can help you feel better physically, mentally, and emotionally.

If you have questions about USF, the Office of Admissions is always happy to help. Contact us online, or reach us by phone at 813-974-3350.