Now that it’s the end of the semester, everyone is scrambling around trying to get everything done and studying for finals. If you are a college student who struggles to manage their time, this post is for you because I’ve spent years making mistakes in order to master the skill. I hope you enjoy.
1.//Have A Morning And Evening Routine
I’ve written about my college morning and evening routine before. It’s a lifesaver. Having a routine helps me wake up and get ready efficiently or wind down and get ready to rest. Another great thing about having a routine is that I don’t have to waste much time on deciding what to do next.
2.//Plan Out Your Week And Follow It
I’ve been creating weekly to-do lists in a cheap spiral notebook this semester, and it’s been a game changer. Using my assignment list based on all the syllabi, I’ve been able to organize myself in an efficient way. Crossing things off a list is very satisfying to me, so having one page with every blog post, homework assignment, and due date for the week is quite motivating.
3.//Study In Different Places (Leave Your Dorm)
I don’t know about you, but I can’t get any work done in my room. I just can’t. My laptop and my bed is just a recipe for procrastination. Even when I work at my desk, my bed is just too tempting.
I personally study most efficiently at the library or a study lounge, but even just moving to the dining table at home makes me work harder and faster.
4.//Sleep 6-8 Hours Every Night
If you aren’t sleeping enough, you are breaking time-management rule #1, but if it’s completely impossible for you to sleep a full eight hours, aim for at least six. I personally cannot function if I don’t sleep, so it’s a top priority for me. I’m not one of those people who can bounce back after 3 hours of sleep.
*Update 9/15/18: My dad watched a TED Talk recently about sleep. The speaker said something like this: “When we wake up in the morning and see that our phones are 50% charged, we feel agitated and that sets a tone for the rest of the day. We put so much priority in making sure our phones are fully charged, but we go about our days 50 or 60% charged all the time without thinking about it.” You can’t manage your time properly if you aren’t rested for the day. You’ll be much more productive and comfortable if you get enough sleep.
5.//Make Time To Go To The Gym
I remember in my first semester of Freshman year, a trainer at the gym said that most students stop coming to the gym during midterms. She said,
“I wish that more students understood that going to the gym makes their days more productive, not less.”
That resonated with me. It’s also the reason I always went to the gym, even when I had exams. It’s really easy to make excuses in college, so you need to be very mindful of your health. Working out was 100% worth it when it came to me managing my time, because it motivated me to eat healthier, gave me more energy, and helped me fall asleep faster. It also gives me a productive break in between homework and studying.
6.//Know Your Daily Rhythms
I mentioned this before, but I’ll talk about it again. You know your body and mind best. You know which times you are most energetic and which times you’re most lethargic. I’m not hungry first thing in the morning, so I don’t eat breakfast immediately. I get ready, make my bed, pack my bags, etc.
I’m also good at self-motivation in the mornings. I can get a lot of studying and work done without procrastinating too much. I lose that self-motivation after lunch, which is why I’ve scheduled all my classes in the afternoon. Having some structure at that time makes me more productive.
Schedule your time with your daily rhythms. It’ll make you much more productive and will help you get through your day by saving you energy.
7.//Set A Timer
This works so well. It’s kind of crazy. What would take me an hour without a timer takes 30 minutes with one. I think the hardest part of getting work done is starting. Once I sit down and make a decision to start working, I can work nonstop. Just set a timer for 15 minutes. Once those 15 minutes are up, you’ll probably be in the groove of things and won’t stop what you’re doing.
8.//Block Out Times In Your Schedule For Certain Tasks
Block out a certain time for classes, a certain time for work, a certain time to eat, etc. Batch similar tasks together so that you won’t waste time going from one project to the next. If your daily schedule is blocked off into different sections, you won’t have to waste energy on deciding what to do next. You also won’t waste ten minutes every time you’re “getting ready” to study by organizing all your notes.
I don’t mean procrastination breaks. I mean actual breaks. Procrastinating by watching YouTube videos isn’t a break because you’re mentally draining yourself through guilt. If you are going to take a break, don’t guilt yourself about it and don’t waste an hour.
If you are intentional about your break time, you’ll waste less time and will have more energy because you won’t be wasting any of it on guilt.
10.//Pay Attention In Class
This is literally the ultimate time saver. If you’re going to class every day, the least you can do is pay attention. This will honestly save you when it comes to studying for the test because you’ll know the important information and what to go over. You won’t have to waste too much time on looking through the textbook. (Of course, this only works if you have good professors.)
11.//Don’t Be A Perfectionist
“Perfectionism is the mother of procrastination.”
This quote rings true to many people. I’ve learned not to be a perfectionist when it comes to a lot of things, but this blog isn’t one of them. When you want something to turn out perfect, you’ll waste a lot of time working around the project. This happens to me all the time. I’ll spend time outlining and creating blog post images, but I won’t actually flesh out the post until the day before. (Today is a bad example because I’m writing this five days in advance, but that’s not a norm for me.)
This can also be about moods. If I’m not in the mood to write an essay, I won’t write it. I need the perfect amount of motivation and the perfect amount of time (Example – “Oh, it’s 2:03. I’ll start my homework at 3:00.” Don’t lie. You’ve done this at least once.)
I’ve taught myself to stop this because it is SUCH A TIME WASTER. I need you to know that not everything has to be perfect to be good. Most great things aren’t perfect. I mean, have you seen the impressionist paintings from a few centuries ago? They’re great paintings, but there’s no such thing as perfect when it comes to those.
Sorry for that digression. The point is to be less of a perfectionist. You’ll be happier for it in the end.