Time Management Skills for Working College Students

By Kaitlin Hurtado on June 10, 2017

If you find that you do not necessarily need to work a part-time job in college, you are considered lucky. You have one less thing to worry about when it comes to the long list of responsibilities most college students find themselves having.

However, for most college students, part-time jobs are a necessity — whether it’s to build their work resume up or to sustain themselves financially during their college career when financial aid fails to. It may seem difficult to balance academics, extracurriculars, and a part-time job but with good time management skills under your belt and in constant practice, you’ll find dealing with an overwhelming situation much easier.

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1) Remember your existing priorities beyond your job

This aspect of time management may seem silly, but when it comes to adding another responsibility, whether it’s a club or even a goal to go to every office hour for the semester, it’s easy to forget about existing priorities. Start with your classes (both regular and online) — the times and the meeting place, big deadlines like term papers and exams, office hours, etc. Go on with listing your extracurriculars — club meetings, fundraisers, larger events.

Every time you commit to something new, make an effort to write it down. Whether it’s in Notes on your iPhone, on a slip of paper you keep in your pocket, or in your planner — just make sure that you have something to refer back to when you need to figure out a meeting time, location, or phone number to call.

2) Plan everything out (or at least what you can)

Once you know what you need to dedicate time to, figure out just how much time you need to dedicate to a priority and when you’re going to fulfill your commitment. Just like with recognizing your responsibility, start with the easier things. Class times will usually be fixed, along with exam dates and term paper deadlines that can easily be found in your course’s syllabus. Aside from fixed dates and times, try to plan out studying time, so you don’t find yourself stressing out due to a lack of time because of other time commitments in the form of work shifts or club meetings.

Keep track of your work shifts as soon as you get each new schedule. When you’re scheduled to work, you are expected to work, regardless of whatever you were planning to during the duration of the shift. Keep track of your work schedule to avoid planning any social or academic activity during a time where you are already committed to your part-time job.

Rather than just mentally planning out how you are going to divide your time, prepare a way to create a physical plan. Having your plan down physically will give you something to refer back to when your mind comes up short, when you need to jot a new time commitment down, or when you plan out another commitment. There’s always physical planners in the form of notebooks or desk/wall calendars. If you tend to lose your belongings or prefer a digital version to utilize on various technological devices, try using something like Google Calendar or the calendar app on your iPhone.

3) Don’t be afraid to multi-task (it’s something that is actually a necessity)

Do you feel like you waste time taking the bus to and from campus and/or your part-time jobs? Instead of wasting time tapping and scrolling away at your social media feed for lengthy rides, bring along readings for one of your classes or study material. Long commutes are a blessing in disguise, as you get away from the temptation of your bed and you are somewhat forced to pay attention to the material you should be reading for class.

One of the biggest things that helped me out when it came to working around my part-time job was always having class notes or readings on me so I could go to them when I got to work a few minutes early, or when I was taking a 15. Instead of feeling like I was wasting time by waiting for something to happen, I felt like I was being productive by checking something off the long list of class readings — it was one less thing to do when I went back home from work and would actually have to sit down at my desk to do my schoolwork.

4) Learn how to say no, or when you can/should say yes

There’s only going to be so much time in a day and it’s something you should constantly be aware of. Always remember the things that you already have “said yes” to — school, part-time job(s), clubs — when you are considering adding another time commitment. You may want to say yes to everything at first. You don’t want to miss out on weekly dinner with your friends, the free movie screening, that workshop because it would look good on your resume.

However, as much as you want to say yes to every offer that comes your way, be aware of what you have on your plate and how overwhelming your workload can get with even the smallest addition.

Can’t make it to lunch with your friend this week? Look for free time in next week’s schedule and put time aside to avoid the problem in the future. Know when to say yes, or if you have to say no, think of alternatives that best fit the schedule you already have.

By Kaitlin Hurtado

Uloop Writer
Hello! I'm Kaitlin, a second year Literary Journalism major at UC Irvine. I'm a writer on Uloop's national team and a campus editor for UCI.

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