Anna Shields Discusses the Importance of Time Management in Higher Education

Anna Shields Discusses the Importance of Time Management in Higher Education

Anna Shields, a professor at Princeton University, understands the critical role that time management plays in the success of college students. With years of experience in guiding undergraduates through the complexities of academic life, she has seen firsthand how effective time management can make the difference between thriving and merely surviving in higher education. In this article, Anna Shields explores why mastering time management is essential for college students and offers insights into the best strategies for staying on track in a demanding academic environment.

Time management is a crucial skill for success in college-level education. With the demands of coursework, extracurricular activities, part-time jobs, internships, and social commitments, college students face a unique set of challenges. Effective time management can mean the difference between academic success and falling behind.

Professor Anna M. Shields on the Challenges of College Life

College life is a time of significant transition. Many students are living away from home for the first time, managing their own schedules, and making decisions that will impact their academic and career paths. The freedom that comes with college life also brings responsibilities, including the need to balance coursework, personal life, and other commitments. The following are some common challenges that students face in terms of time management:

  • Workload: College courses often require more intensive study and longer assignments than high school. Students must manage multiple subjects, term papers, projects, and exams.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Many college students participate in sports, clubs, or other activities that also require a significant time commitment.
  • Part-Time Jobs: To support themselves financially, some students work part-time jobs, which can further complicate their schedules.
  • Social Commitments: College is also a time for socializing and building relationships. Students must find time to connect with friends and participate in campus events. 

Given these challenges, college students must develop effective time management skills to succeed academically and maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The Benefits of Effectively Managing Time

Professor Anna M. Shields says that effective time management in college-level education offers several benefits, including:

  • Academic Success: Students who manage their time effectively are more likely to complete assignments on time, study for exams, and maintain good grades. This can lead to academic achievements, scholarships, and better job prospects after graduation.
  • Reduced Stress: Poor time management can lead to stress and anxiety as deadlines approach. Effective time management helps students avoid last-minute cramming and reduces stress levels.
  • Improved Work-Life Balance: College life is not just about academics. Students who schedule their time well can participate in extracurricular activities, work part-time, and enjoy a social life without compromising their academic performance.
  • Skill Development: This is a valuable skill that extends beyond college. Students who master time management will find it useful in their careers and personal lives.

Practical Tips for College Students

Effective scheduling requires planning, discipline, and a willingness to adapt. Anna Shields provides some practical tips below:

Create a Schedule

Anna Shields of Princeton says that one of the most effective ways to manage time is to create a detailed schedule. Students should start by listing all their classes, assignments, exams, and other commitments. Once they have an overview of their weekly or monthly schedule, they can allocate specific times for studying, attending classes, and completing assignments.

Prioritize Tasks

Not all tasks are equally important. Students should prioritize their tasks based on deadlines and academic requirements. Using the Eisenhower Matrix, a simple tool for prioritizing tasks, students can categorize tasks into four quadrants: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. This approach helps students focus on what matters most.

Anna Shields Discusses the Importance of Time Management in Higher EducationBreak Tasks into Smaller Steps

Large assignments or projects can be overwhelming. To make them more manageable, students should break them into smaller steps and set milestones for completion. This approach not only reduces stress but also provides a sense of accomplishment as they complete each step.

Use Productivity Tools

Technology can be a valuable ally in time management. Students can use productivity tools like calendar apps, task management software, and note-taking apps to organize their schedules and keep track of deadlines. Anna Shields of Princeton says that tools like Google Calendar, Trello, and Evernote can help students stay organized and focused.

Avoid Procrastination

Procrastination is a common challenge for college students. To combat it, students should establish a routine and stick to it. Setting specific study times and creating a conducive environment for studying can reduce the temptation to procrastinate. Additionally, breaking tasks into smaller steps, as mentioned earlier, can make it easier to start working on them.

Take Breaks and Practice Self-Care

While time management is important, students should also prioritize self-care. Taking regular breaks, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a healthy diet are essential for overall well-being. A well-rested and healthy student is more likely to be productive and focused.


Time management is a critical skill for success in college-level education. By creating a schedule, prioritizing tasks, breaking assignments into smaller steps, using productivity tools, avoiding procrastination, and practicing self-care, college students can navigate the demands of academic life with confidence. Effective time management not only leads to academic success but also reduces stress and promotes a healthier work-life balance. Anna Shields explains that as college students develop this skill, they will be better prepared for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in their academic and professional journeys.