College means being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with no one else telling you what to do. A little too good to be true if you ask me. Time management in college is one of the most important skills you will learn – and almost everyone learns the hard way. It can be all too tempting to kick back and watch TV, go out every night and skip classes whenever you feel like it just because no one seems to be telling you otherwise. Then midterms roll around and every freshmen on campus looks like they just rose up from the grave as they try and cram 6 weeks worth of material into three nights of studying.
College doesn’t give you all of that freedom just so you can have some extra party time! (I wish). It’s supposed to teach you how to grow up a little and learn to manage your time & study habits well – for things you want to do, and things you have to do. You really can have both! If you do it right.
These are my best tips for managing your time well in college so you can have plenty of fun without the oh-so-common exam week meltdown.
1. Setting a routine. This seems like an obvious step, but a lot of people wait way too long upon arriving at college before setting a routine! Decide what’s important to have in your schedule every day (working out, homework, your class schedule, clubs and organizations…) and figure out exactly where they fit in. This will also help you make sure that you aren’t taking on too much at once. *Tip: Writing down a sample day schedule from start to finish is a good way to look at everything you’re planning from a birds-eye view – then you’ll see if its too overwhelming!*
2. Plan for the Unexpected. In my opinion, the unexpected happens more than the expected in college. You randomly find out its your friend’s birthday and she wants to go out to celebrate! Too bad you have a paper due tomorrow. You need to make sure you have time in your schedule for unexpected plans or events, forgotten assignments that are suddenly due, etc. You’ll be able to participate in more activities that you want to do, and it will definitely save you from missing an assignment because there just wasn’t enough time once you remembered it.
3. Take Breaks. This is so important in college and so many people abuse it. College is all about a balance between what you want to do and what you have to do. Tip the scale too far in either direction and you’ll crash and burn. You can’t expect to party every single night until midterms and be fine, and if you push yourself too hard and never let loose you’ll be burnt out by midterms and crash just as hard as the partiers! Balance is key. Finish your assignments by taking them day by day, and if you focus hard and get them done you can still have time to go out and have a good time.
4. Set your priorities. Sit down and make a list of everything that is absolutely important to you – and I mean really important. Classes, clubs you’re involved in, working out, sleeping enough, spending time with friends. Write it all down and then figure out where it all fits in to your schedule. (This one goes hand-in-hand with setting a routine.) Once you have your priorities established, you can set a routine and schedule it out so you never over/underwhelm yourself. It will also make you feel more obligated to stick to the things on your list when other things you haven’t prioritized start popping up right and left. *Tip: I do this every Sunday night! I write down everything that is an absolute MUST for me that week – major assignments, meetings I need to attend, major parties I’ve been looking forward to, a friend’s birthday dinner….Having the list makes me more motivated to make sure I dedicate myself to only those things, and I procrastinate a lot less!*
How do you manage your time in college?