Priorities v. Procrastination: The Need for Time Management


Three students stand outside looking at their cell phones and laughing.
Image 9.5 Our devices can be helpful tools for managing time, but they can also lead to distraction. (Credit: Image by Keira Burton from used according to CC0.)


Time management and prioritization are vital skills that lay the foundation for your college success. The majority of us struggle with time management and need models and examples of what time management can look like as we start to agency over our schedules and activities. Similarly, most of us go through some form of procrastination when it comes to homework and working on projects. Both, time management and procrastination, are part of what is needed when prioritizing your work in school, your work outside of school, and the times when you’re not working. Once you get a hang a better handle on using these essential skills, you will optimize your productivity, reduce stress, and create a balanced approach to college life.

Student Survey

How do you feel about your time management abilities? Take this quick survey to figure it out, ranking questions on a scale of 1–4, 1 meaning “least like me” and 4 meaning “most like me.” These questions will help you determine how the chapter concepts relate to you right now. As you are introduced to new concepts and practices, it can be informative to reflect on how your understanding changes over time.

  1. I regularly procrastinate completing tasks that don’t interest me or seem challenging.
  2. I use specific time management strategies to complete tasks.
  3. I find it difficult to prioritize tasks because I am not sure what is really important.
  4. I am pleased with my ability to manage my time.


Student Profile

“Before I started college, I had heard that the amount of work would be overwhelming, and that it would be much harder than high school. That was true, but after being in college for a couple of weeks, I felt that people made it seem scarier than it actually was. I had some homework assignments here, some essays, some hard classes, but it wasn’t that bad…until midterms and finals came knocking. I had so much to study and so little time. The pressure was unimaginable. And since there was so much material to learn, I kept procrastinating. The nights before the exams were a disaster.

After the semester, I realized that I needed to do something differently. Instead of crashing before midterms and finals, I would study throughout the semester. I would review notes after class, do a few practice problems in the book even if homework wasn’t assigned, and try to ask professors questions during their office hours if I was confused. This continual effort helped me do better on exams because I built up my understanding and was able to get a good night’s sleep before the big test. I still studied hard, but the material was in reach and understanding it became a reasonable goal, not an impossibility. I also felt more confident going into the exams, because I knew that I had a deeper knowledge — I could recall things more easily. Most importantly, I now had peace of mind throughout the day and during the tests themselves, since I knew that I was better prepared.”

—Nachum Sash, Actuarial Science Major, City University of New York

About This Chapter

In this chapter you will learn about two of the most valuable tools used for academic success: prioritizing and time management. By the time you complete this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Outline the reasons and effects of procrastination and provide strategies to overcome it.
  • Describe ways to evaluate your own time management skills.
  • Discuss the importance and the process of prioritization.
  • Detail strategies and specific tactics for managing your time.


Creative Commons License

Priorities v. Procrastination: The Need for Time Management” by Rachael Reynolds is licensed under a CC by 4.0 and adapted work from the source below:


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UNM Core Writing OER Collection Copyright © 2023 by University of New Mexico is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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