How to Manage Your Time in College

Let’s be honest—procrastination is a tempting strategy. Why do today what you can do tomorrow? But even though that plan provides a bit of temporary satisfaction, it only leads to more stress down the line.

Learning how to manage your time in college will decrease stress, be more organized, and (maybe the best part) open up opportunities for you time.

So, how to do it? Eh, we’ll tell you later.

…just kidding! See, that would be bad. Here are some tips to help you wrangle that procrastination beast into submission. 

Become a Planner

The first step in any time management mission is to dive into the world of scheduling and planning. Just like with starting your budget, it’s important to map out all of your weekly responsibilities so you can use your time in an efficient way. 

First, jot down all your classes and their times, any work shifts you might have, and other responsibilities that require you to be in a certain place at a certain time. After laying that groundwork, you can start building in blocks of time around those responsibilities—studying time, workout time, hobby time, and others. Feel free to be as specific or general with these blocks as you want. If scheduling “Study Psychology” feels better than simply “Study Time,” run with it. Do whatever will help you stick to your schedule. 

Get a Planner

Now that you have your scheduling ducks in a row, it’s time to get a planner. Good news—there are approximately one bazillion different options out there (which, of course, is a very scientific number).

Digital choices run the gamut from simple checklists to more in-depth planner/journal combos and offer the flexibility of custom alerts based on date, time, and location. There’s also something to be said about always having access to your planner in the palm of your hand (there are mobile apps galore).

If you’re more of a pen-and-pencil type of person, there are even more options available. You can show off your creativity by making your own planner layout in a simple notebook, go a bit more luxe with a leather-bound planner and journal, and everything in between. 


Sometimes, life has a way of throwing everything at you all at once. During these jam-packed stretches, it’s important to stop, take a breath, and prioritize your to-dos so things don’t start falling between the cracks. 

This, of course, isn’t as easy as it sounds. Grabbing coffee with a friend is an important event, but it might not be the best option if you need to finish a project with a looming deadline. Taking some time to weigh your tasks will help you stay on task without feeling overwhelmed.

Oh, and your friend will totally understand if a coffee date needs to be postponed. It just makes the next one that much more fun.

Protect Your Time

Saying yes to every study group, club meeting, friend outing, or coffee date is a surefire way to overload your schedule—and your brain! When it comes to protecting your own time, learning to say no is one of the most valuable skills you can learn.

But just like prioritizing your time, protecting it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Saying no carries a lot of anxiety for some people (which is totally ok), but saying yes to everything isn’t the cure. It’s like procrastination. Saying yes feels like a good plan in the short term, but it’s unsustainable in the long run. 

Remember when we said your friend will totally understand if a coffee date needs to be postponed? It’s true! Your friends will get it, your study group will get it, everyone will get it. The more you learn to say no (or maybe just “not now”), the more sustainable and manageable your schedule will be.

Take Time for Yourself

You’re busy. Maybe super busy. But you are still important—not just your to-dos. No matter how crunched things get, always schedule in some time for yourself to decompress. This looks different for everyone. It could be some quiet time reading a book, a solo movie outing, some video game time, a long walk, and lots of other activities. 

Whatever it is, do it. It’s important because you’re important.

The BetterYou app uses behavior science to improve digital health and make it stick.

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