Why is Time Management Important in College (and How to Learn Those Skills)

Renee Layberry
May 4, 2021

Time is one of your most precious assets. As you move through college and into the working world, you will find it is even more so.   So when asking why is time management important, not only is it a vital tool to achieving success in higher education but also in everyday life. It’s why so many professors have strict deadlines for their assignments. Those deadlines help students develop and learn the benefits of time management skills.   Let’s look at why time management skills are critical for successfully navigating college.  

The benefits of time management for students

Managing your time wisely can help you enjoy your college experience more. It can also help you be more successful, both at school and after graduation.  

Time management reduces stress

When you have good time management skills, you’ll reduce the levels of stress you’re operating under. Waiting until the last minute to start term papers or cramming for tests can leave you feeling stressed and anxious.    With good time management skills, you can complete projects over a reasonable period. This will allow you to be more relaxed and focused.  

Your grades will improve

When you have poor time management, you are more likely to miss deadlines. By turning in papers and projects late, you’ll get lower grades. The same will happen when you wait until the last minute to study for a test.    By organizing your study time into the days and even weeks before the mid-terms and finals, and committing to that schedule, you’ll have enough time to review and understand all of the required material. Your grades should reflect that.  

You'll be healthier

Good time management isn’t just about work and study. Your schedule will give you more time for yourself. You can get more sleep, make time for healthy meals, and get some exercise. You should even schedule time just to kick back and relax, especially after exam periods.   When you’re frantically pulling all-nighters, missing classes, and trying to catch up with the required readings, you certainly don’t have time to think about your health. By scheduling time to focus on yourself, you’ll be better rested and have more energy throughout the day.   Photo by Silviarita

You'll have more time for fun

With the additional hours you gain by better managing your time, you’ll also have time to spend with friends and get involved in extracurricular activities.   College isn’t just about learning what you need for your future career. It’s a time of discovery and personal development. This includes finding new talents and interests, as well as developing your social skills by participating in college life activities.  

You'll be better organized overall

Time management involves creating and following a timetable for daily, weekly, or monthly events. You break large assignments into smaller, manageable tasks. By creating these schedules, you will find that your day is more organized. You’ll have time set aside for the daily tasks you need to complete, and time to do the things you want to do.  

You’ll get more done

Running around at the last minute trying to complete work or hand in assignments before the deadline only leads to lower levels of productivity. If you’re late with two essays due on the same day, you’ll either do a rushed job on both, or submit one on time and the other late.   By following a schedule that gives you time to work on each assignment, you will find that you can accomplish a lot more during the day. Plus, because you won’t be behind, you’ll significantly increase your productivity.  

How time management helps you succeed in your career

Time management skills will not only help you to enjoy greater success in school but will provide you with better success in your career and your life as well. Check out some of the ways that time management will assist you in your future career.  

You'll know how to hit deadlines

No matter what career path your education takes you on, you will encounter deadlines. Projects and proposals are part of many jobs, and they often have interim deadlines that must be met. If those interim deadlines aren’t met, the final completion date will be missed.   By developing proper time management skills while you’re still in school, you will be able to successfully plan all the related elements that go into meeting the deadlines you’re responsible for.   Photo by Saulo Mohana

You’ll always be on time

When you have poor time management skills, you’ll find yourself running late more often than not. If you plan well, however, you’ll show up where you need to be, on time, and with no excuses. Being a professional means being punctual.  

Steps to create an effective time management schedule

Learning good time management skills is not that difficult, and with a few simple steps, you can easily master those skills.  

Figure out how much time you need for school

The first step to developing a good time management plan is writing down all the tasks that you have to do. This will include your class schedule and time for major term projects. We’ll deal with regular study time in a moment. Write down the time it will take for each of these tasks. Remember to include travel time to and from class or the library.  

How much time for studying?

Next, determine how much time you will need to study for each class. A good rule of thumb is to plan three hours of study for every hour of class time. If you have a more difficult class, be sure to schedule more time; for easier classes, you can schedule less. Tutorials can be included in your study time.  

Don’t forget to make time for yourself

Once you have completed your must-dos, now you need to pencil in your wants. Block off personal time for everything, including eating, sleeping, and exercising. Put time in for friends, relaxation, and social time too. And don't forget you have to do laundry once in a while.  

Tips to improve your time management skills

To make your plan more successful and help you stick to it, try these few simple tips:  

Get a good start every day

Avoid sleeping in. It can be tempting to push for an extra hour or two of sleep, but that additional time can throw off your whole schedule. Whether you’re a morning person and get up at dawn, or a night owl who wakes up at noon every day, keep your sleep schedule the same (even on weekends).   

Focus on one task at a time

While multitasking can seem like a better way to get more things done in a shorter amount of time, it will spread your focus too thin and make your studying less productive. By concentrating completely on the task at hand, you'll do a better job in less time.   Photo by Avel Chuklanov

Lists are good

In addition to your timetable, make to-do lists. Making lists for the tasks you need to complete can help you stay on track as well as give you a sense of accomplishment when you cross things off. Create separate lists for schoolwork and daily activities.  

Set study times strategically

When you put study time into your time management plan, schedule for those times of the day when you know your concentration levels are at their peak. Not sure when that is? Discover your best study habits through a series of trial and error Wherever possible, you can also schedule readings just before class and studying just before tests. That way, the material will be fresher in your mind when you show up for a test or lecture.   Tackle your most difficult assignments first so your mind will be fresher and better able to get through the more complicated information. Set up your study time in blocks with set rest periods, such as studying for 50 minutes and then taking a 10-minute break. You will be more likely to push on if you know a break is coming up.    After working with your plan for a little while, sit down and review it to see if any areas could use some tweaking. Remember, it is okay for your plan to evolve as needed, even if that's on a daily or weekly basis.  

Create the proper study environment

Designate a space for studying that is free of distractions and provides you with the tools and space you will need to accomplish your tasks. The space should be comfortable to work in but not so comfortable that it makes concentrating hard to do. In other words, a desk is probably a better place for studying than your bed.  

Give yourself the chance to succeed

Sometimes the biggest barrier to successful time management is your attitude. Start with the mindset that you can be successful and accomplish your goals. Reinforce this by creating behaviors that allow you to succeed. This could mean not hitting the snooze button and learning how to take better notes in class.   Time management is a vital component to success – not only in your academic career, but in your future work and life goals as well. By starting with a few simple steps, learning to be a better time manager is easy, and can lead you to a happier, less stressful, and more successful life.