College Students: 10 Things That Waste Your Time

wasting time in college

As college students, there is a lot to get done and you’re pulled in so many different directions. Classes and assignments, friends, family, work, and hobbies, sometimes it doesn’t feel like you can fit everything in. Time is our greatest asset, and as college students, it’s easy to waste it. So, if you find yourself struggling and constantly questioning why you don’t have enough time to get things done it’s time to look at how you are spending your time.

1. Scrolling Through Social Media

In a digitalized world, scrolling has become the biggest time waster. Whether you are scrolling through posts or videos on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, or other social media platforms, it’s extremely easy to lose track of time. These platforms are designed to keep us mindlessly scrolling forever as there’s never an end.

As of 2022, the average social media usage worldwide was 147 minutes or 2 hours and 27 minutes per day (Statista) . 2 and a half hours is a lot of time! Imagine what you can do with that. This can be a lot of time wasted if you have studying or assignments that need your attention instead.  

Make sure you are in control of your time and attention. Evaluate how much time you spend on social media. Often it can be difficult to step away or put your phone down. I recommend setting time limits for your social media usage. Spend no more than 5 to 10 minutes on social media at a time. This is more than enough time to get caught up on what’s happening.

Set a timer on your phone and once it goes off set your phone down and focus. Focus on an important task that requires your time and attention. This could be working on homework or assignments, studying for a test, or catching up on readings for your classes. You can even generate some income and start a side hustle if you have a few hours free. Check out, What To Do During Your Break Between College Class, to get some ideas.

2. Binge Watching TV

Binge-watching is becoming increasingly popular and according to recent studies over time, it can harm your health. Some of the concerns are depression, decreased physical activity, sleep problems, behavioral addiction, isolation, and cognitive decline. A study done by the University of Texas at Austin found a link to depression. One of the study’s authors, Yoon Hi Sung, PhD., said, “Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching and they are a cause for concern. When binge-watching becomes rampant, viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously. “

As of September 2021, 64% of people said their reason for binge-watching TV shows was because they were really engaged with the show. While 45% of people said they enjoy the experience of watching multiple episodes in an accelerated time period (Statista). As a busy college student, binge-watching can cut into time that is better spent on studying, working, exercising, or sleeping.

As a college student balance is key to academic success. Schedule in time for watching TV shows or movies. Set a predetermined limit to how many episodes/hours you’re going to watch before you start and stick to it. It’s important to be able to stop watching and go to bed or focus on something else.

3. Procrastination

Many college students are guilty of procrastinating. Especially, over tasks that are particularly difficult or too overwhelming. Chronic procrastination can make studying and completing assignments next to impossible. Not to mention, the process of putting it off and rescheduling it can create a lot of stress and anxiety.

If you have a difficult task or project that needs to be done, you may be tempted to put it off. Don’t. The best thing to do is get it out of the way as soon as possible. This way it doesn’t loom over you for the rest of the day. It will be a relief to get it done and you will feel more productive. Through time management and a good routine, you can overcome procrastination and develop productive habits.

Here are two simple time management tips to create a good routine:

Create A Schedule: Make a list of what you need to schedule. Classes, assignments, work, family, sports, and other activities. Prioritize what you need to complete first, and which tasks can wait. Schedule a time when you will do everything on your list. Try and stick to your schedule and adapt it if necessary. Not everything can be set in stone, life does happen.

Get Organized: Create a calendar. It can be a physical or a digital calendar like Google, iPhone, or Microsoft Outlook. Once you’ve chosen your calendar start filling it in. Note when you have classes, and when assignments, projects, and tests are due. Include midterms, finals, holidays, and breaks. Add other scheduled commitments like work, internships, meetings, and other extra-curricular activities. Be sure to look at your calendar daily, it’s what will keep you on track.

4. Not Studying Efficiently

When it comes to studying you need to be very intentional during your study sessions. If you don’t have a plan, studying can be a waste of time. I want you to study efficiently. This means I want you to use all the resources you have. Look over your homework. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, but often students overlook this. There’s a reason your professor has you do it, it’s what you need to learn and know. If you aren’t doing the homework, you won’t be able to understand and learn the material you are supposed to be studying.

Studying with your classmates can be an excellent way to complete assignments or prepare for an exam. Studies show that students have a higher success rate in classes if they work together. Forming study groups with peers leads to better grades and study habits. Having a bit of moral support is great motivation to do better in class. If the subject matter or class is particularly difficult for you then hiring a tutor might be a good option. Check your campus resources, often tutors are free.

Be sure to go over your textbook and notes. Use flashcards or note cards to master the subject. Go over old quizzes to prepare for the test. Oftentimes, quiz questions are test questions. Reach out to classmates. It’s a good idea to review the test material with other students to help with retention.

5. Skipping Class

Though it may be fun, skipping class is a big time waster. It is during class lectures that course material is taught and explained. Being present in the classroom is crucial to improving your understanding of the subject and ultimately your grades. When you skip a class you spend a lot of time playing catch up on what you missed. You will have to reach out to classmates to see if you missed anything important. You’ll also have to see if you can borrow their notes. Some professors require class attendance so it may affect your grade.

Showing up to class is how you will meet other classmates and how you will begin a rapport with your professor. These two relationships will be very beneficial regarding motivation and support throughout the course.

College and attending classes are also about developing a work ethic that will serve you for the rest of your life. Don’t underestimate going to class as it creates structure and good habits. When you’re accountable, you take ownership of your actions. Personal accountability is so important because it teaches you responsibility.

More importantly, students who regularly skip class typically earn lower grades out of classes. They also perform worse on tests. And once they start skipping it becomes a habit that is hard to break.

6. Shopping

Whether it’s physically or online, shopping can be a waste of time. You can easily spend hours walking through stores or scrolling. For many college students, shopping is a bad habit that drains their money and leads to unnecessary purchases.

The time you spend shopping or browsing could be used for studying or working on assignments. Instead of going to the mall or your favorite store with friends, use this time for your academics or a side hustle.

7. Worrying

Worry is a common self-induced stressor. We worry about our grades, relationships, jobs, money, health, and the future. Worrying is not good for us. It creates tension, fatigue, and anxiety. Worrying is unproductive and a huge waste of time because it doesn’t change anything.

Many things in life are uncertain and while we want to always have the best outcome, we often worry about things that never happen or are out of our control. It’s okay to let some worries go as we can’t control everything and making mistakes is normal.

When our minds are not filled with worries, we become more productive. This allows us to utilize our time wisely. We can get more done in less time. Being productive is the key to success.

worry less in college

8. Joining Clubs

In college, getting involved in clubs can be a great way to make friends and feel like you fit in and have a group of your own. However, some clubs and organizations can be a huge time sucker in college. Typically, there’s a lot of excitement around this and it’s easy to get caught up. Especially, after the excitement wears off and you are stuck with attending meetings and events that you really don’t want to or have the time to.

Each club will have different requirements and expectations. Some will require more time and energy. Be selective and don’t stretch yourself too thin by being part of too many clubs.  It’s okay to step away and focus on your studies and work.

9. Partying

In college, it can be easy to feel like you need to go out every time you’re asked. While it is enjoyable to hang out, partying too often can be a big waste of time for college students. If you are partying excessively your grades will suffer. It’s hard to show up for class and focus on your studies when you’ve been up all night or are hungover. It’s okay to say no.

10. Using Weekends As A Break From School

While I was in college, I worked and went to school full-time. I was busy! If I had used my weekends as a break from school, I would have quickly fallen behind on my academic responsibilities. The weekend was when I got caught up.

By now you know Your College Sensei is all about efficiency. It’s vital to manage your time wisely. Nothing is worse and creates more stress than realizing an assignment or project is due the night before you have to turn it in. Make sure your weekends are super productive. Whether it’s completing an assignment or studying for a test utilize your time wisely. It’s only for four years. You can do it.

Working And Going To College Full Time

With the cost of tuition and living steadily increasing more and more students are becoming working students. Working full-time while you are in college is now becoming a necessity as the cost of tuition and living increases. I know that working and going to college full-time is a challenge. In my article, How To Balance Working And Going To College Full-Time, I give tips on how to balance both.