20 Biggest Time Wasters For College Students

Are you wasting your time in college? Here are 20 time wasting culprits college students should avoid.

One of the biggest differences between college and high school is the amount of free time you have.

In high school, you are in class for about 8 hours a day. But in college, you are only in class for a fraction of that time.

As a result, you have a ton of free time that you can use either to your advantage or disadvantage.

If you are finding yourself struggling in college and constantly wondering why you don’t have enough time to get anything done, it’s time for you to step back and truly assess how you are spending your time in college.

In today’s blog post we are discussing 20 common time wasters for students in college.

And if you are engaging in any of these activities, it may be time to stop or lessen how much time you dedicate to these time wasting culprits.

A college girl laying in her bed browsing through social media on here phone–a huge time waster for college students.

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20 time wasters that affect university students

Although the items on this list are what most college students waste time doing, it doesn’t mean they are 100% bad and should be avoided at all cost.

In fact, most of the things on this list are great self-care activities for college students and, when done in moderation, can help you become a more successful college student.

1. Binge watching Netflix

a college girl binge watching netflix, which is a huge time waster for college students.

Who doesn’t love a good binge watching session of a new show on Netflix or Hulu?

I sure wouldn’t say no to a Grey’s Anatomy or Criminal Minds marathon.

However, this is such a time waster especially if you are watching Netflix and studying at the same time!

It’s very difficult to concentrate completely on your studies with external dialogue in the background.

If you truly cannot study in silence, try studying with instrumental background music instead.

According to Vaughn College, classical music, nature sounds, and music without lyrics are the best background noises for studying. These types of music or sounds can even help you feel more relaxed and be more focused while studying.

Or, you can limit your Netflix/Hulu time to in the morning when you are getting ready for class or at night as a treat after studying all day.

2. Standing in line at Starbucks before class

In college, I was seriously guilty of doing this.

But standing in a busy, long line for a $5 coffee is such a waste of time (and money) for college students.

During that time, you could be studying for that quiz in your next class, doing a few homework problems for calculus, or catching up on textbook readings.

Instead of standing in line at Starbucks (or Dunkin’ Donuts):

3. Studying without a solid game plan

When it comes to studying in college you need to be intentional during your study sessions because even studying can be a waste of time.

What this means is: you can’t just open up your textbook, start reading chapter after chapter, and expect good results.

Instead, come up with a plan for each study session like:

  • I will read and takes notes on chapter 5 for 45 minutes for my biology class
  • Then I will spend 45 minutes studying for my multiple choice quiz in my psychology class
  • And afterwards, I will spend 45 minutes working on my English paper draft

By being more intentional with your college studies, you will use your study time more efficiently and feel a lot more accomplished at the end of each study session.

However, if you go in without a plan, you may find yourself wasting your time on things that won’t improve your understanding of your course materials or get distracted by other things.

4. Browsing social media

It’s so easy to get carried away scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or (even worse) Tik Tok videos.

According to DigitalMarketing.org, people in the United States spend 2 hours and 3 minutes a day on social media. That’s a lot of time!

Browsing social media is certainly not helping you get your school work done and it really is just you avoiding the inevitable.

So instead, turn your phone on “do not disturb,” put your phone in another room or in the bottom of your book bag, and then get to work on your school work.

Literally, just try to concentrate for 45-minutes on your school work without looking at social media.

You’ll be shocked with how much you can get done in such a short, but highly engaged period of time.

5. Being part of unproductive study groups

A college study group that is being unproductive and therefore a big time waster for these college students.

Some study groups can be really good and help you understand difficult concepts from a different perspective.

However, being part of unproductive study groups can drag your grades and be a serious waste of your time.

If you are finding that your study groups are full of students who:

  • Spend study time chatting away about off-topic subjects
  • Only use one another for answers
  • Don’t challenge you to think critically about what you are learning
  • Don’t know what the heck they’re talking about

Then it is time to find a new study group or go solo with your study sessions.

I personally always found study groups difficult to participate in and often students would just further confuse one another.

So instead try watching YouTube videos about concepts you are having a difficult time grasping or going to a resource like Khan Academy.

Both of these options can be a better use of your time and you can do them from the comfort of your own home or study space.

You may also like: How To Improve Your Grades If You Are Failing College

6. Reading your notes over and over again

If you think effective studying means reading your notes over and over again…. think again!

When you read your notes repeatedly, you aren’t doing yourself or your brain any favors. Instead, you’re just wasting your time.


Because repeatedly reading your notes does not allow the information to be processed deeper into long-term memory.

You also can’t determine if there are any gaps in your understanding of the concepts, which will be very apparent when you take your upcoming test or quiz.

Instead of using your precious study time reading your notes over and over again, try revising your notes or, even better, teaching your friends the materials you are learning.

And if you have a difficult time explaining any of the concepts you’re teaching your friends, that’s a red flag you need to spend more time studying that concept.

7. Being part of clubs or organizations that don’t interest you

In college, getting involved can be a great way to make friends and have opportunities you wouldn’t be able to experience otherwise.

However, some clubs and organizations can be a huge time sucker in college, especially if you don’t feel 100% committed to them.

So if you are finding yourself attending club meetings, but are bored or disinterested in what the club is doing–then it’s time to leave it and regain your time back.

Or if you feel yourself stretched too thin by being part of too many clubs, it may be a good idea to step back, reassess which clubs/organizations mean the most to you, and drop the ones that aren’t important to you.

8. Telling yourself, “I’ll do it after [blank].”

One of the biggest excuses ever is: “I’ll do it after [blank]” (or any variation of that phrase).

For example:

  • I’ll get to my homework after I finish this episode.
  • I’ll write my paper after I take a nap.
  • I’ll start my math homework at 2 PM.

I use it all the time and most of the time I fail to accomplish what I set out to do because I keep making the same excuse over and over again.

And you too can probably think back a time when you were guilty of this too.

For instance, you’re watching your favorite TV show and you tell yourself, “I’ll start by homework after this episode.”

But that episode was SOOO GOOD so you tell yourself, “ok I’ll do it after this episode.”

And this cycle continues on and on until it’s too late for you to be productive the rest of the day.

So what to do instead?

Simply stop wasting your time and just do your work! It’s really about disciplining yourself.

Of course this is easier said than done, but sometimes you need to just force yourself to work rather than “ease” yourself into it.

So… put your phone away, turn off the TV, brush off the dust from your textbook, and get to work.

9. Hanging out with friends right before a test

Although you may feel like it is productive to talk your in-class BFF right before your next quiz or test, this can actually be counterproductive and may make you feel more anxious for your test.

For instance, if you and your friend discuss a tricky concept before class, and she interprets it different from you–this may freak you out and you may start seconding guessing yourself on your assessment.

Instead, it is wiser that you spend time before your class reviewing your notes and keeping to yourself rather than talking to your friends.

Then when the test is done feel free to chit-chat with your friends all you want–you deserve it after all the hardwork you have put into studying.

10. Going on unnecessary runs to Target

a college girl participating in time wasters that affect university students–going shopping at target.

Although I’m all for a good Target run, it can be a huge time waster browsing the aisles of Target and purchasing unnecessary items.

The time you spend in Target, Walmart, or the mall could be used for studying for an upcoming assessment, drafting your research paper, or even emailing professors about working with them on their research.

Instead of avoiding the inevitable–doing school work–use your Target runs as a reward and a way to unwind after taking a difficult exam.

11. Agreeing to every invite you get from a friend

In college it can be easy to be pressured to accept every invite to go out to drink, go to every football tailgate, or every Friday night frat party.

As fun as these experiences can be, they are a big waste of time for college students especially if you end up having to recover from a hangover the next day.

So instead of accepting every invite, limit to going out once or twice a month. And especially avoid going out around midterms or finals.

During midterms and finals, truly the only thing you need to be focused on is studying and taking care of yourself.

12. Trying to find the perfect parking spot on campus

Parking on college campuses is the absolute worst!

Especially if you go to a university where there are more students than parking spaces.

However, if you are circling the parking deck trying to find the perfect front-row parking space, you’re really wasting your time.

Time that could be spent getting a few more steps in for the day, having some time to decompress before class, and even get a little bit of studying in.

13. Doing virtual window shopping

It’s easy to get sucked into browsing all the cool new finds on Amazon or that cute new women’s fashion boutique you found on Instagram.

However, virtual window shopping can easily suck 30-minutes to an even an hour of your precious time away and lead to you making impulsive purchases you didn’t really need to do.

To remediate this:

  • Unfollow all e-commerce stores you are following on social media
  • Put your wallet at the bottom of your bag
  • Remove any saved credit card information with stores you frequently shop at online

Of course, don’t feel like you can’t go online shopping at all. Because it’s really is fun!

But limit it to times when you’re purchasing yourself something as a treat or buying gifts for a holiday/birthday.

14. Visiting unethical pet stores for an IG photo

When I was in college so many girls would spend hours in pet stores, like PetLand, just to get a cute instagram photo with a puppy who unfortunately came into the world under the wrong circumstances…

Not only is this a waste of time, but it is also indirectly supports a company that doesn’t truly care about the wellbeing of their own animals and supports puppy mills.

I’d stay far away from any pet stores like this and spend your time volunteering at an actual animal rescue or local animal shelter.

Or just take selfies with your own pets at home.

15. Revising your planning system over and over again

A college student wasting their time replanning their college schedule.

It’s always a great idea to make a study plan at the beginning of the semester.

However, making a study plan can backfire if you keep revising it over and over again just to make it “perfect.”

For example, when I first started college, I had no idea what I was doing or how to organize my time/plan my day.

So I spent a good chuck of my time making study plans and then redoing them in a different planner or on a different calendar app.

And although I felt productive doing it, it was really distracting me from getting my actual school work done.

So instead of trying to find the “perfect” planning solution for your college assignments, stick to the basics.

And by basic I mean something as simple as a list of all your due dates for the semester and then planning your days around that.

Or not even bothering with getting a fancy day planner and just using a simple blank notebook or journal for planning out your day.

Personally, once I switched to bullet journaling, I became a faster and more efficient planner because I didn’t have to worry about all the bells and whistles that come with the planners you buy at the store.

16. Spending time making your smartphone look aesthetically pleasing

With the release of iOS 14 for iPhone, there’s a growing trend of making your iPhone look aesthetic.

And although I am all for being on trend, it’s such huge waste of time if you have a million assignments due, but instead, you’re playing around with different colors and looks for your iPhone home screen.

If you’re really wanting to follow this trend, save it until you have a break from school or spend the afternoon after a hard exam tweaking your iPhone’s vibe.

But don’t do it as an escape from school, because you’re wasting your time and avoiding the inevitable.

And that’s only going to lead to you making worse grades and feeling frustrated on your next assessment.

17. Participating in student-run class group messages

Phone applications like GroupMe can be a wonderful alternative to group text messaging.

And at some colleges GroupMe has become a way for students who are in the same class to connect with one another.

On the surface, this seems innocent, but it’s actually (1) a waste of time and (2) a surefire way to get in trouble for academic integrity.

Spending your time seeking answers from your classmates, who may or may not know what they’re doing, can lead you to misunderstanding important concepts or requirements on an upcoming assignment.

So instead of asking your classmates for clarification, send your professor an email instead.

Your professor will definitely steer you in the right direction and at the end of the day, they’re the one who will be grading you–not your classmates.

In regard to academic integrity, if one student in your GroupMe shares test or quiz answers, and another student rats them out to the professor, the whole GroupMe can end up under investigation by your university’s department of student conduct and academic integrity. And that’s probably not something you want to be a part of.

So my advice, don’t join any class group messages.

Stay in your own lane and focus on your own school work.

18. Skipping class

Although an occasional class skip is warranted if you’re sick or have a sudden emergency, it’s truly a waste of time, and money, to skip your classes otherwise.

According to a survey by Class120, college students, on average, miss 240 classes by the time they graduate college.

USA Today College states that each college class, at a public university, is worth $30/day.

So missing 240 classes is $7,200 wasted just by not attending class.

If those numbers don’t scare you, I don’t know what will!

$7,200 is lot of money (and time) wasted that could be spent investing into your education.

And if feel like your education isn’t something worth investing in right now, then it may be a good idea to take a break from college.

19. FaceTiming your friend and family for an absurd amount of time

In college, especially if you’re far away from home, it can be a real treat to video chat with your family every once in awhile.

However, if you make a habit of doing 2-hour video chats with your mom every other day, you’re unfortunately wasting a lot of time no matter how much you love and adore your mom.

Try to limit the time you spend FaceTiming your family to once a week or even every other week.

But of course, if you’re having a rough week and just need some family love and support to cheer you up then by all means, go for it!

20. Trying to be the perfect student

A college girl wasting her time trying to be the perfect college student by perfecting her look.

In college there is a lot of pressure to be “perfect.”

Whether that means getting the perfect grades, writing the perfect paper, or even looking perfect for class every single day.

However, perfectionism is a huge waste of time and mentally draining.

I’ve always had issues with perfectionism in college and it honestly led to me burning out in college by my junior year.

However, if you learn to let go of being perfect, you will find more time in your day to work on other assignments, check more things off your to-do list, and still making good grades despite an imperfection here and there.

Concluding thoughts on biggest time wasters for college students

One of the best parts of college is the newfound freedom you get to experience.

However, this freedom also means there will be plenty of distractions and things you need to filter out and manage if you want to keep up with your school work and obligations.

In today’s blog post we discussed 20 biggest time wasters for college students.

I hope from this list you were able to identify some of the time wasters you’ve engaged in and make a plan to reduce or eliminate them from your day-to-day college life.

And again, don’t feel guilty for indulging in any of these items mentioned in this blog post. Everything in moderation, right?!

So go off and enjoy your Target run or that fresh cup of coffee at Starbucks, but don’t let these time suckers be the reason why you are failing to meet your assignment deadlines.

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A girl struggling to submit her college assignment on time because she wasted so much time.

Thanks for reading about time wasters that affect university students.

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