Let's Talk Time Management
As super busy college students, you and I both do not have the time to worry about **managing** our precious time. Because of this, I’ve created a list of my top tips for balancing numerous facets of college life — exercise, healthy eating, extracurricular commitments, having a social life, class, studying/homework, sleeping, personal time to just SIT THERE (we all need it), and running errands/doing kind-of-adult chores (example: today I had to re-setup our shower rod because it broke - real cute.)
Happy Tuesday my babes!
Number One: Understand & write down what you WANT to get done on any given day, and what you HAVE to get done. These are two very different things. What you have to get done could be studying for a test, or doing laundry because you have one pair of socks and no bras left. What you want to do could be watching Gilmore Girls, online shopping, or baking banana bread. Each night, write out what you want to do the next day and what you have to do the next day. In the morning, prioritize your to-do list first by what you have to knock out, and then see if you have time to accomplish what you *want* to.
Number Two: NEXT, figure out a to-do list system that works for you. The best habits are the ones that are EASY to create and implement, so find what is best for you, not for someone else. For some, this means writing a new note in the Notes app each day. For others, myself included, this means carrying around a journal where you can write our your to-do list for the next day, and cross things off as you get them done on the day-of.
Number Three: in a similar vein, find a calendar system that functions best for your habits and preferences. In order to be effective at managing your time, you need to have a good system in place that enables you to be on top of your time — when things are due, when you can study, when you have to be somewhere, and when you can take time for yourself/workout/eat/sleep/BREATHE.
Some people, like my good friend Eleanor, live by their Day Designer planners. I tried a planner; I thought it was so damn cute, but it only worked for, like, a week. Now, I’ve learned that I do really well with using my iCal. Here’s a photo of the week before Thanksgiving:
Okay. Maybe this looks like I’m insane. I don’t care. This this works for me. My roommate Rae and best friend Nick can’t stand to look at my iCal because it’s too structured for their styles of time management. For me, this is the way that I stay sane and in control of my time. I don’t write down every little detail, like “eat lunch at 2PM”, or “do a face mask on Wednesday at 9PM”, but I keep interviews, my class schedule, exams/paper deadlines, the times I ideally want to exercise, sorority and Fit University info (those are my two extracurriculars), blog events/dates, some, not all, social happenings, meetings with professors, and family stuff in here.
I encourage you to try it out! If this doesn’t work for you, a planner or another form of keeping track of important dates/info definitely will. Get out there, experiment with different calendars, and LET ME KNOW how it goes! I want to be updated.
Number Four: Use exercise to become a more productive, successful student. If you are going stir-crazy from studying all day for an exam or completing a group project, abandon your work. Run away from it, and go workout in whatever way that makes you happy -- walk, do yoga, lift weights, play frisbee on some patch of grass with friends, go for a run.
Quality over quantity is what I practice and preach when it comes to effective studying and completion of assignments. To be honest, this methodology has served me extremely well during my time at boarding school and now at Northeastern. I am proud of my success in education thus far because I know that I’ve earned it, and because I’ve learned exactly how to handle my time. Without exercise and taking that sacred time for myself just about every day, I don’t believe I’d be thriving as much as I am. When we exercise, we give our body a chance to move around and our brain a chance to take a break from cramming information. Exercise is vital for healthy brain function, happiness levels, and confidence.
So, even if you can only take 45 minutes of out your day to ditch the library and go for a hike or throw a ball around, do it. It’s going to be so worth it — SUCH a good use of your time — when you go back to studying later on. Trust me.
Number Five: Through trial and error, figure out the time of day that works best for you to study. If you’re a morning person and find that waking up early to knock out assignments is best, go to bed early so that you can do this. If studying late at night and sleeping in later works for you, that’s awesome, too. It does not matter what others are doing; experiment with different times and learn what time of day you do schoolwork best. This will save you HOURS of the day; if you’re a morning person but are trying to study at night, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to be way less productive and waste more time than if you go to bed at 10 and wake up at 6 to study. PS - that’s what I do. Want to join the club? Yes? No? Maybe? LMK.
Number Six: Look out for your future self. Let’s say it’s Saturday, and there’s a party that you want to go to that night. BUT you have a big exam on Monday that you don’t yet feel quite prepared for. Think about what your future, Monday self needs and would want. I’m guessing that self would want you to feel prepared to rock the test, as opposed to feeling stressed out of a lack of preparedness and a tired after a long Sunday night of studying.
In this example, a plausible, responsible solution is that you hang out with your friends and send them off to the party; there will be MANY more social gatherings like this one — you are not missing anything, except maybe a pointless Instagram photo, by staying in for this night.
Maybe you study for a little (no shame in studying on weekend nights. It’s a boss move, in my book), and go to bed early so that you can wake up Sunday feeling ready to learn the material and dominate the test on Monday. Boom.
Because you guys, here is the truth: as a college student, no one is truly looking out for you. You are the only person who has full control over your success, your happiness, and your time. This is a big responsibility, and I encourage you to handle it with care.
Number Seven: if you're trying to study and you just cannot be productive, go do something else. This is one that I'm still trying to teach myself to this day. I think we can often get caught in the mindset of "I have to study MORE" -- however, if you've been working for hours, and your brain and body are trying to tell you that you need a break, take the damn break. Take it. Go hang out with friends down the hall, go eat food, go take a walk, and come back to your work later. Trying to cram as much information as possible into a given homework session is sometimes the least effective way to study. Take breaks, relax, and always trust that you know more than you think you do.
Number Eight: never underestimate the power of a good night's sleep. Strive for 7-8 hours each night, and your brain, your grades, and your future self will thank you. Big time. There's a ton of science to back this one up; go check some of it out here.
Number Nine: block off time throughout the week that is designated "YOU" time. Whether this is time time for you to study, workout, cook, watch a documentary, read a book, or anything else, make sure to section off time each week that cannot, under any circumstances be filled with extracurricular, social, or life obligations. If everyone allocated this kind of time for themselves, I do believe that we'd be a happier, less stressed-out society.
Number 10: set a timer for yourself when studying, doing homework, or writing an essay. There's a saying that I learned from the author of my favorite book, You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero, that goes something kind of like this: if you have six months to do something, it'll take you six months to finish it. But if you have six hours to finish the same thing, it'll take you six hours.
This means that sometimes, we can complete tasks more efficientlyif we limit ourselves on how much time we have to finish it. See if this strategy works for you by setting a timer for 50 minutes the next time you sit down to study and crank work out. If you can just sit there, for 49 more minutes, and be wicked productive with schoolwork, then you can take a break and spend time with friends. The other option is to allocate all night for studying, in which case you may be way less productive because you have so much 'more' time. Try it out!
I hope these tips help you manage your time a bit better! If you have any questions, feel free to drop them below; my favorite thing EVER is hearing from you lovely people.