Time Management

College can be quite demanding. Time management is the most fundamental organizational skill you will need to succeed in college.

When you were younger, someone else made this happen. For instance, your parents may have kept your vital records organized and in a safe place, made doctor appointments or reminded you of upcoming deadlines. Now, it is up to you.

Weekly activity hours

Hours per day Days per week Hours per week
On the average, how many hours do you sleep in each 24 hour period, including those afternoon naps?
On the average, how many hours a day do you engage in grooming activities?
On the average, how many hours a day do you spend on meals, including preparation and clean-up time?
How much time do you spend commuting to and from campus and how many times do you do this during a week? Include the amount of time it takes to park and walk from your car or the bus stop to class.
On the average, how many hours a day do you spend doing errands?
On the average, how many hours do you spend each week doing co-curricular activities (student organizations, working out, church, etc.)?
On the average, how many hours a week do you work at a job?
How many hours do you spend in class each week?
On the average, how many hours per week do you spend with friends, going out, watching TV, going to parties, etc?
Compute the number of hours you are spending each week engaged in daily living activities and school activities.

Total Daily Activity Hours: 


Available Study Hours

There are 168 hours in a week. Find out how many hours remain for studying, since this is not one of the activities included above. 168
Subtract total daily living and school activities.
How many hours remain for studying


Tools and strategies

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to get a lot done? Do you ever wish you could get more accomplished in your day, week or year? If so, you may want to take an inventory of the time management strategies that you currently use. Are they effective? Here are some tools and strategies:

Plan and prioritize

  • Identify your long-term and short-term goals and prioritize them.
  • Planning can help you identify and prioritize to work on them strategically. While planning does take time and effort, the result of planning may save you time in the long run.

Create a schedule

  1. Learn where your time goes. If you completed the above time management calculator, you'd learn where you're spending your time. Remember, it doesn't track all activities during the week.
  2. Complete the weekly planner log (docx) to learn where you are spending your time. You may be surprised to discover you surfed the web for an hour or spent two hours on social media.
  3. Create a semester calendar starting at the beginning of the semester. Include large assignments, projects, scheduled tests and quizzes.
  4. Create a weekly to-do list from the semester calendar. Break down significant reading and writing assignments and projects and include study time. Recommended study time for each enrolled credit hour is 2 to 3 hours per week. So, if you enrolled in 15 credit hours, you will need approximately 30 hours of study time a week outside of the classroom.
  5. Create a daily to-do list from the weekly list. Include items you need to complete that may or may not be school-related.
  6. Rate each item on your lists. Once you schedule items on your weekly and daily list, rate each item in order of importance and if it should be included. Ask yourself what I should do vs. what I want to do or what is valuable vs. what is urgent.


Time management tips

  • Work smarter, not harder. Find your most productive time of the day and complete the most challenging subjects during that time.
  • Just do it. Break the task into bite size pieces for challenging tasks you tend to procrastinate on. Fifteen minutes of focused attention can help you tackle those dreaded items on your list.
  • Keep your work with you. Sometimes you come across available time slots unexpectedly.
  • Don't waste wait time. Find ways to put even a few minutes of waiting to good use. For instance, when waiting for your class to begin review your previous class lecture notes.
  • Have a system for getting things done. Organization in your home will save time looking for lost or misplaced items.
  • Multi-task when feasible. Study while waiting for a load of laundry to dry; clean the kitchen while cooking; dust while talking on the phone.
  • Don't over-obligate. Say "no" to committees, groups, social obligations and activities that will be a drain on your time. Keep your long-term goals in mind. Ask yourself whether this new commitment will help you accomplish your goals.
  • Set specific goals for each study session. For example, you may want to read a chapter in your textbook, complete an assignment or work on a bite size piece of a big project during a scheduled study session.
  • Set a schedule and stick to it as much as possible. When unexpected things come up, review your daily schedule and place the missed task (study/homework) into a time slot that is a lower priority. For example, you lost two hours of study time because your friend had a flat tire. Substitute your study time with the time you planned to watch your favorite TV show.
  • Eliminate interruptions and distractions. Select a study area that is quiet and conducive to learning. Take steps to eliminate distractions, including turning off your phone, staying away from social media, checking email or notifications.
  • Avoid time wasters. You know what yours are! Virtually anything can be a time waster.
  • Start today. There is no reason to postpone taking steps to be a better self manager. If you would like to learn more about developing time management skills, contact your campus counseling office.

Time management apps and resources

Source: Adapted from: dartmouth.edu;