Throughout my college career, I have worn a lot of hats. Not hats as in clothing wear, but rather in the various roles I have held — student, intern, employee, student government leader and others I have held at various times. The first two years, I really struggled with time management. I’ve had all of these different roles, but could not find a proper balance in which I can enjoy myself as well. However, once junior year came around, I was finally able to learn how to juggle many things.
Why am I saying this? Simply because I notice how many students feel so stressed out about the various things they have on their plate. Sometimes, they are like this all 4 years! So I’ve recently asked myself – hmm, how did I learn time management? Well, today I will be revealing my secret formula.
- Dedicated time – Junior year, I started dedicating specific times for specific things. For example, if I had student government work to do, I would make sure that during my office hours, I did all of the work I needed…and I stuck to it. If I had student government work, then I made sure I did it during that time and at no other. Similarly, if I had homework to do, I made sure I did it during pre-set times throughout the week. I spread my homework out throughout the week so that I can accomplish more in little time. If I set 2 hours for doing my communication readings, then I made sure I did it during those 2 hours and in no other time slots. Even though I knew I had more stuff to do, I learned not to worry about them until the time I had allotted for it. This not only decreased my stress time, but also increased my productivity because I was able to focus on one thing at a time. To sum it up, I became more successful by dedicating various times for my various tasks. And I stuck to them.
- Turn-off my mind and my device – Similarly, I learned in the past year how to turn off my mind. Yes, I have lots of stuff to do at all times – there’s never a moment where I don’t have something to do. However, this is life and I accepted it. So, if I had set time for relaxation, then I told myself to do just that. So instead of watching a movie and worrying about the many chapters I have to read for my management book, I just enjoyed my movie and kept the worries saved for when I had to read the book. Also, this goes along with turning off my cellphone or other devices. I am typically addicted to it! But I learned how to put my phone away during times I couldn’t afford to be distracted. For example, during homework time or when I was at my internship, I put my phone in my bag and kept it there for hours at a time and practiced patience until the time I said I could look at it. Overall, turning off your mind or devices requires a little practice and patience – once you master that, your stress levels will drop significantly.
- To Do lists – I would be lost without my Reminders app on my iPhone. I keep track of everything I have to do at school, my internship, USG or anything else in life. I set timed reminders as well to let me know when I have to do them. Keeping a to-do list, whether on a phone or a notebook, has dramatically decreased my anxiety and increase my productivity.
- Sleep does good things – When I first started college, like other college students, I thought sleep was for the weak. I would be perfectly content with doing homework at midnight, going to sleep at 3 a.m., then waking up at 8 a.m. Looking back, getting 5 hours of sleep and doing homework at the absolute last minute made me feel utterly miserable. Now that I have dedicated times for homework, I could go to bed at midnight instead of starting homework at that time. I now value sleep so much that it’s really hard to function on anything less than 7 hours. Moral of the story is to sleep and good things will ensue! Like Benjamin Franklin once said – “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man [or woman, might I add] healthy, wealthy and wise.”
If you find yourself strugging with time management and stress, I really hope you are able to improve on it with my suggestions! Let me know if anything helps you, or comment below with any of the things that have helped you!