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How to Balance an Insanely Busy College Schedule

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Manhattan chapter.

College students are amongst the busiest people, and they don’t get enough credit for how jam-packed their schedules are. Trying to balance classes, work, extracurricular AND a social life is a lot to handle. Having a schedule like that can lead to stress, anxiety, and it can take a toll on your mental health if not managed properly. 

There are so many opportunities in college, and if you’re like me, you’re going to want to take all of them. Whether it be joining five clubs, taking an extra class, or finding a job to earn some extra money, there’s a lot offered to college students. 

But all these great opportunities can lead to a not so great result: spreading yourself too thin.

However, this shouldn’t discourage you from trying everything you possibly can! The best remedy for spreading yourself too thin is developing a plan and routine to manage your hectic schedule. Here’s how you can balance a busy schedule in college:

Write It Down in a Planner 

Get a cute agenda and write down everything you have to do for the month, week, and day. And yes I mean everything. From assignments to club meetings, this planner should hold your entire life.  

I’m the type of person who is super involved in many clubs on campus and highly dedicated to earning good grades, all while socializing often and trying to start my own blog (which is a lot more work than it seems). 

The one thing that keeps me sane with everything I have going on is planning out my schedules and writing everything down. Seeing everything written down keeps my head clear and ensures that I don’t forget anything. 

I recommend using a planner, multiple calendars, and to-do lists. Sounds like a lot, I know. But if you’re like me, then planning everything out time and time again is sure to help you balance a busy schedule in college. It puts your mind at ease and makes you feel less stressed about everything you have on your plate. 

Utilize Google Calendar

Use this to visually see your month at hand. Most planners go week by week, but Google Calendar allows you to see the entire month as a whole, which helps you plan better and stay organized. 

At the beginning of each semester, take each of your syllabi and copy down all the assignments you have due for the semester in Google Calendar. It can be tedious and time-consuming but so, so worth it. 

Once you have everything mapped out in Google Calendar, its easier to plan your week by week schedule. Google Calendar not only gives you a glimpse at what’s ahead, but all you have to do is simply copy down what you see for the week in your planner. 

I like to keep a tab open with my Google Calendar on my laptop and refer to it when I’m doing work or when I’m in class to stay on top of my assignments. That way I can quickly copy down a change in schedule, an additional assignment, or event. 

Some say it’s hyper-organized, but it helps me manage a very hectic and crazy schedule and workload. 

Buy a Wipe Board Calendar

This is similar to Google Calendar, and not required if you don’t find it necessary. After putting everything down in Google Calendar, I like to copy my month down on a wipe board calendar. 

If I’m doing homework at my desk, I can easily look up to my wipe board calendar and see what I have ahead of me. There’s also no better feeling than physically crossing off a day once it’s complete.

Having a wipe board calendar helps me stay productive. You can find out where to buy one, and a bunch of other dorm essentials, here

Make Daily and Weekly To-Do Lists 

This is another hyper-organized method to balance a busy schedule in college. 

At the beginning of each week, I like to write down what assignments I have due for that week in order of their due date. I usually do this on a post-it note and stick it on my desk hutch (a must-have dorm essential which you can read about here). Whenever I’m doing work I can quickly glance up at that list and see what I need to accomplish that day. 

Next, I make a daily to-do list. I refer to my post-it note and base my daily to-do list off of what assignments are the most important, or which ones are due at the beginning of the week. I usually write this list down in my planner wherever there is room for the designated day.  

This method of organization may sound like too much thus far, but trust me it pays off in the end. 

Prioritize Your Tasks and Obligations

To effectively balance a busy schedule, you need to prioritize what tasks should get done first. Prioritization is key. 

Which are the most important? Which ones have the biggest consequences for not completing them? 

One way I do this is by making my weekly to-do lists in order of importance, AKA the order in which each assignment is due. 

You can prioritize by the due date or by the task. I like to get all my school-related work done first, then move on to any extracurriculars. Although, if I have something that needs to be done for a club before an assignment is due, I’ll move that up on my to-do list. 

You know your schedule best and know when something should come before another thing. Keep prioritizing. Focus on what you truly need to do, whether its for class, work, or a club. 

Head to the Lib 

The best way to stay productive and get work done it to work in the library. Go by yourself in between classes. It’s easier to get work done here because you’re In a quiet environment, surrounded by other hard-working individuals and free of distractions. 

Even if you don’t consider yourself a library person, go and force yourself to work. It may take some getting used to, but within no time you’ll be able to get tons of work done. Even if you don’t necessarily have that much on your plate, go and stay for a half-hour. See what you can get done and maybe get ahead on work. 

I recommend going in between your classes or when you have a free spot in the day. Don’t go back to your room because distractions await there. What better way to fill your free time than being productive? Get it done now so you don’t have to worry about it later. 

Wake Up Earlier 

Waking up earlier simply gives you more time in the day to accomplish what you need to. This may be hard at first, especially if you’re a night owl. But fight the urge to stay in the warm, comfy bed and get up and be productive. 

I always feel so much better if I wake up early and do something of value. If I do work in the morning, then I feel accomplished– but I still have the entire rest of my day left. It’s a great way to start your morning. 

Carve Out Personal Time 

This may sound a bit contradictory, but making sure you get some me-time in your busy schedule is crucial to your health. 

I know it feels like you should be occupying that time with something productive, like getting work done, instead of pampering yourself. But taking care of yourself is just as important as any task you have to complete in that busy schedule of yours. 

Remember what we said about prioritization? Yeah, prioritize yourself and your well-being first.

Personal time for me is usually on Friday and Saturday afternoons/nights. I don’t worry about anything I have to do other than just enjoying my free time by watching my favorite Netflix shows, reading a book, or catching up with my friends. 

Keep in mind that I’m able to carve out this personal time on the weekends by being productive during the week. Your me-time doesn’t have to be on the weekends, but make sure you get your work done when you schedule that personal time. 

All in all, worrying about work and obligations 24/7 takes a toll on your health and can stress you out more. Sometimes, you just need to forget about everything and focus on you. 

Focus on NOW 

It’s so easy to get caught up in the weekly and monthly calendars and to-do lists that you get stressed out. 

Yes, it’s great to plan ahead and see what the upcoming weeks will look like. But sometimes it can be pretty overwhelming to see how much work you have to do and wondering how you will ever get it done. 

I’m so guilty of this– sometimes I get so stressed out once I see on my calendar that I have a busy week ahead.

But don’t worry, you just have to take everything one day at a time. That’s part of the reason why I like to make my daily to-do lists: it keeps you focused on that day and that day only. 

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry about what’s ahead; worry about now. Focus on the work you have to do now, then once it’s done you can move on. Take it one step at a time. 

And if you are stressed about having a busy week or busy month, don’t worry. You’ll get through this. I know it may seem impossible and it’s easy to wonder how you’ll ever achieve all of this, but trust me, you will. 

College students are insanely busy– their schedules can be a lot to manage and they don’t get enough credit for being able to manage, classes, work, extracurriculars, and a social life, all while gaining the full “college experience.” 

I’m one of those insanely busy college students, but I’ve developed this system that helps me balance a busy schedule. You may think it’s over the top and hyper-organized, but it helps keep my head clear and allows me to manage not only a heavy workload and demanding extracurriculars, but also work, a healthy social life, and a brand new blog (which is a challenging journey in its self). 

I get it. Balancing a hectic schedule may seem super daunting and impossible right now. But that shouldn’t discourage you from trying everything you possibly can in college. So join that club, take that extra class, apply for that job. 

By using these tips, you’ll see that balancing it all as a college student is totally possible.  

This post was originally published on the author’s blog, Christineeve.com


As an avid lover of all things writing related, Christine is a born story-teller. She is a junior at Manhattan College majoring Public Relations and minoring in Marketing. When she’s not writing, you can find her exploring NYC, binge watching The Office, or enjoying a good cup of tea. She joined Her Campus after transferring to MC and absolutely fell in love with it! She is currently the Campus Correspondent of her chapter, and hopes her articles can entertain and inspire women everywhere. After college, she plans to continue writing and hopes to publish a book one day. Be sure to check out her college lifestyle blog Christineeve.com!