The Art of Prioritizing

Many intelligent students don’t do well in college, not because they’re not smart, but because they don’t know how to prioritize. In college, time management/prioritizing is half the battle. Most students who struggle with prioritizing fall under one of two extremes: they either over commit themselves because they think it will help them in the future, or they spend too much time doing things that won’t profit them in the future. Prioritizing is the art of finding balance between over-committing yourself and being lazy. Here are some ways to make sure you manage your time correctly.

The Art of Prioritizing | Prioritizing is half the battle in college. Here are some tips to help you prioritize your life!

Prioritizing is half the battle in college. Here are some tips to help you prioritize your life! Click To Tweet

Know Your Limits

The problem many people have with prioritizing is that they spread themselves too thin. They commit themselves to too many things, and as a result, they can’t give their best to any of these commitments. The best way to avoid this is to know your limits and don’t cross them. If you feel like you’ve already crossed your limits, check out the next point…

Learn How to Say “No”

Once you know your limits, you can determine whether you need to cut some things out of your schedule. If it comes to the point that you need to drop a commitment, don’t be afraid to do it. Similarly, don’t sign yourself up for any additional activities if you know you can barely carry the load you already have. Only commit to an activity when you know you can dedicate an appropriate amount of time to it. It’s better to be committed to less activities and do well at all of them rather than to be committed to many activities and give less than your best because you’ve spread yourself too thin.

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Also, don’t be afraid to say “no” or “later” to things that can wait. If you’re neck deep in work, you are allowed to politely decline your friend’s offer to go out to eat or to not respond to tweets/social media for a while.


The “rock and sand” principle is a great way to start prioritizing. In summary, this principle states that if you fill a jar with sand, there will be no room for the rocks. However, if you fill the jar with rocks first, the sand will find its way through the jar in the spaces in between the rocks. In this analogy, the rocks represent our big commitments: work, school, family, and health. The sand represents our smaller commitments, like Netflix. In other words, be sure to take care of the “rocks” before you take care of the “sand”.

Create a Schedule

Use a schedule to keep those priorities in order! First, schedule in your “rocks.” Then, schedule your “sand” around it. This makes sure that you’ll address what’s important first. Pinterest has many printable blank schedules that can help you out with this. You could also use Google Calendar.

Track How You Spend Your Time

Do you know how you spend your time? It’s so easy to spend hours on social media and Netflix and be totally unaware of it. Make sure you spend your time on your “rocks” before you spend time on the “sand.” If you want to track how much time you spend doing a certain activity, check out the app called “Hours” that will help you track your activities.

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Once you know how you spend your time, you can make changes to your schedule that’ll better reflect your priorities. For example, if you track how you spend your time and realize you spend way too much time on social media (like I do… oops!), you can make an effort to spend less time on social media and more time working.

In summary, prioritizing is half the battle in college. We need to find the balance between over-committing ourselves and spending too much time doing things that won’t profit us in the future.

How do you prioritize your time?


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  • I don’t usually have that much on my plate, to be honest… I already graduated university. Now I just have a full time job, a freelance job, blogging, and YouTube to manage. Oh, and going to the gym… I really need to make that a permanent part of my schedule.. Anyway, when I do have a lot on my plate, I find making lists like the one in your photo helps me a lot in prioritizing and just seeing what I have going on.

    • Hi Arianne! Thanks for stopping by 🙂 lists are super convenient, aren’t they? They help me prioritize and stay organized, too. Color coding your list is also a great idea if you have a lot of things going on. Good luck with both your jobs, your blog, your YouTube channel, and with going to the gym! 🙂

  • Aly, I’m so glad you geared this post to college students! I don’t think enough people focus on helping college kids transition from living at home with boundaries that are already put into place for them. Learning these skills now will be a great foundation for careers later on! Great job, love!

    • Hi Kathryn! Thank you, I’m so glad you liked this post. Yes, there’s definitely a difference between being a college student and being an adult, and there aren’t many resources on how to make that transition smoother. That’s why I wrote this post! College is a time period where we build the skills that’ll help us as adults, and I want my readers to grow into well-prepared adults.