Time Management 101: Guide to Reclaim Your Time

Five strategies and resources to help you better manage your time while studying at NYU

Students outside an NYU academic building.
Pro tip: Students can meet with a cross-school adviser at NYU’s Academic Resource Center to learn more information about the requirements of their minor program!

It is undeniable that college is difficult. With classes, extracurriculars, work, and other obligations, you might feel there is just too little time in a day to get things done. It is normal to feel overwhelmed with juggling all these responsibilities, but there are many strategies and resources at NYU that can make it easier to manage your time.

Close-up of a womanʼs hand holding a pencil, writing in a notepad.

Strategy 1: Break It Down, Write It Down

To get all of your tasks done, you first need to know what each task is. It is helpful to have a planner or some designated space to keep track of everything you want to accomplish by the end of the day. For some people, a physical planner works better than a digital one. Consider what would work best for you and test it out! You can find a large variety of free printable planner templates on Canva.

When writing your tasks, be as specific as possible. Break them down into smaller tasks. For example, instead of adding “write essay” to your list, you could break it down into five steps: 

  1. Make an outline
  2. Write intro, body, and conclusion paragraphs
  3. Revise paper
  4. Proofread for potential spelling and grammar errors

By breaking down a larger task into smaller tasks, a big assignment feels easier to tackle. This can be useful for fellow procrastinators who may put off a big task that seems too difficult to start.

A student on a laptop.

Strategy 2: Create a Schedule

A schedule can be a great tool for time management when used thoughtfully. A simple schedule template can be found in this guide by the Office of Student Success. When creating your schedule, be honest with yourself about how long it takes to complete a task. If you know that a project will take three days to complete, try not to complete the whole thing just a few hours before the deadline. Some other popular, free tools among students to create schedules include Google Calendar and Notion.

A student sits at a communal desk studying

Strategy 3: Identify a Study Space

There are a lot of spaces around campus, both in Brooklyn and Manhattan, where students can study, collaborate, and get work done. And yes, there are more locations available outside of Bobst, Dibner, and Starbucks. To spotlight a few, the Academic Resource Center located at 18 Washington Place is a great option for students who want a more relaxed atmosphere. 

For students in Brooklyn, the Jacobs Academic Building in 6 MetroTech Center is another great option with study pod spaces. You can find a comprehensive list of student centers and on-campus study spaces here.

Two students meeting with their professor.

Strategy 4: Ask for Help

When you are feeling overwhelmed by all of the things you need to do, it is easy to forget that there is a whole support network designed to help you at NYU. Your professors and academic advisors all have office hours where you can meet to discuss any questions and dive deeper into different materials. 

If you want to sit down with someone and get guidance on creating a personalized schedule, Student Success Specialists are professionals who can help you with this. Schedule a time to meet with them here.

In addition to these great resources, the University Learning Center (ULC) hosts workshops dedicated to time management and other study skills. You can sign up for these sessions with the ULC on the ULC site.

Students in Washington Square Park

Strategy 5: Take a Well-deserved Break!

While it is important to get your tasks done, it is equally important that you take care of yourself! Remember to take breaks in between study or work sessions. This can look like stepping away from your desk for a water break or chatting with a friend for five minutes.

If you do not finish everything you planned to get done at the end of the day, it is okay to feel frustrated. However, try not to be so hard on yourself because this is also an opportunity to reflect for tomorrow. Maybe your to-do list needs to be more specific, or perhaps it is time to switch to a new scheduling technique. Remember to celebrate all your wins, big and small! 

Now, go, celebrate yourself for getting through this guide! You deserve a break for taking the first step to reclaiming your time!