One of the questions I often got in college, particularly in the later years, was “How do you find the time for everything that you do? Aren’t you exhausted?” Of course, sometimes I really was exhausted. But for the majority of the time, I was able to hold a careful balance of everything that was important to me using a few simple tricks.
This included holding a position in my sorority, dating, two other campus clubs, time spent with friends, two majors, running this blog, the Honors program, and the oh-so-important days of Netflix binge-watching and general laziness…When you write it all out like that, it can seem nearly impossible – but truthfully, all it takes is a little bit of prioritization, organization, and careful planning.
If you’re like me and want to make sure you experience everything in your four short years on campus, follow these 5 simple tricks and you’ll soon be the master of time management among your friends (and still have time to sleep and relax!)
1. Create More Time: The biggest problem people seem to run into with time management is that they just feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day. In reality, people just aren’t using the majority of their time in an efficient way. If you’re smart and efficient about how you spend your time, you can have infinite amounts of it for everything you want to get done! My favorite trick for this is using block scheduling. If I see that I have an exam coming up in the next couple of weeks, I write down a few “assignments” a couple days a week leading up to the exam, so I only have to spend 1-1.5 hours on it at a time. This way, I’m focused, efficient, and I don’t get so bored that I waste extra hours procrastinating when I could have been doing something else more productive, and when the exam arrives I’ve been preparing for weeks!
2. Working Way In Advance: Some people tend to operate strictly on a “due date” schedule. While this can work, it’s not effective when you’re trying to “do it all”. Colleges tend to clump things like exams and big projects together, which always somehow seem to fall during the same week as Career Fair, Homecoming, and a big date party. Not ideal. The best way I managed to keep my cool and never have those panic weeks was by doing my work way in advance. It can be all too-tempting to realize you’ve done your homework for the week and call it quits, but looking into the following week or next set of exams and getting started on preparing study guides or doing the next assignment puts you in the best possible position to avoid the chaos.
3. Multi-Tasking: Realistically, this one may not be for everyone. Some people insist that they are incapable of multi-tasking, but for those of you that are able to handle a few things at once, this one is definitely the biggest life-saver on this list. You can totally customize which activities you handle at once depending on your focus levels, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day. If I was having a swamped week, but hadn’t seen Dalton in days, we would agree to study together instead of apart. If I had to host a sorority meeting for my committee, I would simply rent a large study room at the library, and combine the meeting with my dedicated study time for the day.
4. Take Things Day-By-Day: The biggest way that I used to get overwhelmed in college was when everything would feel as if it was due at the same exact time, or piled into one consecutive week (which was not uncommon, particularly during exam times). This is when I started to employ my trick of breaking things down by day. Sit down, make a list or a calendar, and write out everything you need to do for the entire week (or 2 weeks). If you have assignments, write those down first by due date, and then you’ll be able to visualize the order they need to be completed. Then you can fill in extracurriculars, club meetings, dates, and time with friends based on which days have the most gaps or extra time leftover. Now you have your entire week broken down in front of you, and you can take things day-by-day.
5. Utilize Your Down-Time: This somewhat goes hand-in-hand with multi-tasking, but not quite. It’s one thing to multi-task when you’re sitting at the library, but the number one way I completed most of my “extra” work for clubs, sorority projects, and other meetings was by taking advantage of your down time. I never minded working on things while I had Netflix playing in the background or sat in a room with my friends chatting and laughing while I did the activities that didn’t require my full focus. I still felt like I was relaxing and doing what I wanted to do, but I was also able to accomplish things like blog posts, designing sorority apparel, etc. Save the low-focus, low-energy activities for those Netflix nights and you’ll have half of your to-do list crossed off in no time!
I hope these tips help you realize that you really can do it all – and still spend the majority of your time having fun in college! What are some of your favorite time-management tricks for balancing everything in life?