If you ask any college student how to be successful in college, they will tell you time management. Time management. The bane of almost everyone’s existence. Does anyone really master it? Probably not. But over the last semester, I think I have gained a pretty good handle on it. How do I know? Because I am taking eighteen credits and holding down two jobs and still (somehow) surviving. This is how I manage my time between school, work, and social life:
Write the things you can’t change:
I schedule just about everything in my life right now. The set in stone things like my classes, assignment due dates, and work schedule are written down, and then the more flexible things are something I work within my head. The unwritten things are when I’m going to eat (because I will eat), what assignments I will work on, and driving time or walking time, to name a few.
Studying for small chunks of time:
I have short, maybe one to two hour breaks between my classes. Every night before I go to bed, I look at my assignments that are coming up. I pack only the books I think I’ll need for the homework (and classes) I can realistically get done. The next day, on my break, I look at the assignments. Based on how much time they need and if there is anything I can only get done at school, I choose what to work on. When I know what I’m going to start with, I set a time limit for when I need to go eat or start walking to class.
Studying for large chunks of time:
When I have a more substantial chunk of time like four hours for homework, I make smaller time limits for assignments. If I don’t get the assignment done in the time that I set, it isn’t the end of the world, I just readjust my goal and continue. I have found that if you don’t set goals (even small ones), you will never reach them.
Breaks and self-care:
THIS IS IMPORTANT. Do not skip out on eating to finish an assignment. Eating will be a nice break, and you need to eat to function. Schedule breaks when you need them. I personally don’t need a break unless I’m working on something for more than an hour. When do you need breaks?
Self-care is not selfish. Using your brain for 12 hours a day straight isn’t always the best. Make sure you set aside time for yourself. For me, that is reading or watching an episode of my favorite tv show. What is it for you? When you set aside time, set yourself a time limit too. I like to have time for myself at night, but it’s easy to slip into the black hole that is Netflix or Youtube. Tell yourself one episode, or thirty minutes, or whatever you need and stick to it. This will help you stay on track and sane.
Study smarter, not harder:
Where you study matters. In my first year, I did a majority of my homework in my dorm’s “study rooms.” Let’s just say they were not always conducive to studying. When I am at school studying, I work in the library. When I’m at home studying, I avoid anywhere with a TV and try to avoid my bed at all costs.
When you’re learning to manage your time, watch how much work you get done in certain areas. What is the difference between the kitchen table and the couch? Does music help or hurt your focus? These are all things unique to you and things that you must find out for yourself.
Know your limit:
Even though I am (in all sense of the word) surviving my hectic semester, I will never take an 18 credit semester again. That means that I am adding one year to my schooling, but it’ll be worth it. Time management can help increase productivity, but there are only so many hours in a day. I have not spent much time with my friends or family, and I haven’t been able to do some of the things I enjoy most this semester. By not taking 18 credits, I can spend more time with my family, participate in more extracurricular activities, and do more things that I love. I found that my limit, schooling wise, is 15 credits. For some, 12 credits are overwhelming. Others can handle 18 credits (and more) like a boss. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is what works for me and staying conscious of that. You have to play around to find your limit, but when you do, don’t push it. Sit in that happy medium of being productive and advancing in your schooling while still saving time for friends, family, and, most importantly, yourself.
College is a crazy changing time where you are the master of your own schedule, and it’s up to you to make the most of that time!
Hometown: Henderson, Nevada
Major: Film with a minor in Theatre