Start the Year Off Right: Tips and Tricks for Improving Time Management

Part 1

For students settling in for the new school year, we know starting off the semester strong is of top of mind. To help make this your strongest semester yet, Cengage Learning shares a two-part article focusing on best practices for staving off procrastination and becoming a time management expert, which can help to give you a leg up.


College students, we know you are busy – really busy. Between academics, work, social activities, sports, clubs, family responsibilities and volunteering, you face endless pressure on your time. And although it is important to be well rounded and maintain a full and satisfying schedule, juggling so many commitments can often lead to burnout and fatigue. It’s no wonder that 78% of students report that they have struggled with time management at some point during school. Moreover, of the students that struggle with managing their time, 59% point to procrastination as the main cause.  Instructors also agree time management is a challenge for students with 91% of instructors surveyed in a recent Cengage Learning study reporting their students struggle with time management all or most of the time (Cengage Learning Student Engagement Insights Survey, Spring 2015).

Luckily, with a few small changes, you can start the school year off right, gain more control over your schedule and kick procrastination to the curb. And the best part? Successful time management can have a major positive impact on grades and classroom performance. In addition, students who improve their time management report less stress, better focus and improved quality of life.

Make a Schedule: Once priorities are established, the next step in successful time management is to create a schedule. Writing down a concrete schedule is an extremely helpful tool for tracking time. Each week, evaluate upcoming assignments, projects and activities, and design a schedule that makes time for the priority items. This will help you stay organized, focused and in control of the most important items on your to-do lists.

Take Advantage of Small Chunks of Time: Contrary to popular belief, studying doesn’t have to be done in marathon crunch sessions or all-nighters to be effective. Actually, some of the best studying occurs in small chunks where you can do a little bit at a time without burning out. Taking advantage of a ten-minute commute on public transportation, a 15-minute break before class or even just 5 minutes waiting for a friend can add up to very valuable study time. Mobile study tools, like MindTap Mobile from Cengage Learning, provide students with flashcards and quizzes to test your knowledge while on the go, allowing you to turn short-periods of time into small study sessions.

Study Smarter: Many students don’t realize that their study habits could be negatively impacting their attempts at time management. Oftentimes, even after countless hours reviewing coursework and notes, your grades don’t show improvement. This could be a result of ineffective study skills. Reviewing material is one of the most common study strategies out there; however, it can often make you feel more confident about your understanding of the material than you should. Instead, integrate self-testing into your study habits to be sure you truly know the material, and quickly identify areas where you need more work.

As you can see, a few small changes can have a big impact on managing your time.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of our article for even more best practices on time management and avoiding time-suck pitfalls!