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College Study Tips To Take Back Your Time

If you’re grappling with time management in college, you're certainly not alone. According to a survey, 78% of college students face challenges in this area.  


Whether you wish to liberate yourself from the grip of deadlines, strike a balance between work, school, and hobbies, or simply alleviate overall stress, achieving days without school-related thoughts is entirely feasible(Figure 1). The following tips can help you realize the abundance of time at your disposal and empower you to make the most of it.


Figure 1: A Healthy School-Life Balance

With a little planning, you can build the college life you desire.

The Power of Lists

Commence each quarter or semester by crafting a "homework tracker," a chronological to-do list encompassing all impending assignments for each class (see Figure 2). Lists serve as effective time management tools, with the dates on the spreadsheet facilitating task streamlining and prioritization. The direct links to the assignment modules further expedite the retrieval process.

Figure 2: Homework Tracker

This is what the first few rows of your homework tracker might look like. 




Plan your week. Look at all your upcoming commitments and put them on a schedule(Figure 3). Other examples of things to write first could be doctor’s appointments, office hours, or other important errands. Some of these commitments may be consistent, such as classes. Others may change week-by-week, such as a work schedule, so it’s important to do this for every week. 

Figure 3: Base Schedule With Priorities

An example of a typical weekly schedule with commitments.


Plan Your Homework


Find 3 days a week, where you can block out 3 hours of work.(Figure 4) 


Figure 4: Schedule with Homework Added


You can choose these three-hour blocks before classes, in between classes, after classes, or maybe on a day you don’t have classes. 


Do nothing but homework during these times, focusing on one task at a time from your homework tracker. You may need to adjust the exact times and frequencies based on your academics. The reason this studying strategy is effective is explained by Cal Newport in his book titled “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.” Newport states, “To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods of time with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.” Newport refers to this as “Deep Work.” Even if you finish everything due soon, remain in the state of deep working to get ahead and start working on things that are due later. When doing deep work, the three hours will go by quicker than you think. 


Have Backups


Sometimes these three-hour blocks don’t go as planned. Life happens, things come up. Maybe you get sick or low on motivation, or a friend calls with last-minute plans that are too good to pass up. Build your schedule to accommodate yourself. This is why it’s a good idea to have “backup” days (Figure 5). If you’re behind on an assignment or feeling extra motivated, you can use those times. If not, that’s more free time for you. It’s better to block out this time and realize that you don’t need it than to be hit with a deadline wishing you had blocked out more time.


Figure 5: Schedule with Backups Added

Block out one or two days where you may do homework or you may not. 


Start Early 


It’s easier said than done, especially for those prone to procrastination. Getting things started early will result in having ample time to ask for help, because sometimes assignments can take longer than you think, or you may need to seek help from a tutor or your instructor. It’s much better to have something done early than to wish you got it done earlier. 




Paper is not obsolete. In an all-digital world, doing everything off of your laptop can become overwhelming or distracting. Consider planning this schedule on physical paper, or maybe writing out a small section of your homework tracker, or even a doodle to help you clear your mind. 


Use Your Resources 


Recognize that colleges and universities are invested in your success. Leverage the resources they offer, such as academic coaching, tutoring, or counseling, to enhance your overall well-being and academic performance. A lot of these tips are from Academic Success Coaching at the University of Washington. 

By implementing these strategies, you can take control of your time, reduce stress, and create a more balanced and productive college experience.

Photo Source:

Youth Are Awesome

Edited by: Matsoarelo Makuke  

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