Ahhh, yesss…time. Time is a precious thing. I should know. I’m a college student. 😛
…then time management comes into the picture.
Because really, how am I supposed to juggle all of my schoolwork, clubs, job, and free time in one day?
If you were to ask me this question back in high school, I’d probably say something like,
Because seriously, high school was a joke.
Now, as a university student, I have an answer. I think. After all, I did manage to get through all of these four years having learned a few things about coordinating my schedule and my life.
Disclaimer: this post won’t offer the perfect model for managing time: everyone’s different, with varied schedules and different modes of working (i.e. some are effective at being quick, others take time). Instead, I will share with you some of my ideas on how I managed my time during college, and perhaps you will get something out of it.
For me, it all boils down to this:
Get your shit together.
Yup. Simple, isn’t it? Those four, little words have been my motto since…ever. And they have continued to stick with me to this day.
I admit that I have a pretty good work ethic: I try to get things done on time (even early, in some cases), and procrastination is a big no-no in my daily mode of speech. (P.S. procrastination SUCKS. I’ve been there).
But I also admit that I’ve faltered a few times; there were moments in college when I had too much on my plate, became overwhelmed, and ended up having to sacrifice certain things (e.g. sleep, fun activities) for other things. I am kind of in that boat right now, with graduation coming up in a few weeks and still a million things to do before then. But that’s for another post.
Any case, “getting your shit together” means toughening up. Mentally. That means that you have to really pay attention to your capabilities, your limits on what you can and/or want to do. Whether you are constrained by time (after all, we’re only given 24 hours in a day) or by obligations such as work and family, sometimes you might need to decline offers that you really want to do, but just can’t, because of other commitments. It hurts (and I can attest to that), but knowing how each activity fits into your schedule will better help you stay on track toward your prioritized goals.
I find it best to plan things down to a T. For me, I consider myself a pretty hard-core “Type A” personality, and so I get into the habit of micromanaging everything to the point of minutes, even seconds. I know, it’s crazy. Granted, I don’t recommend this for everyone, but for my school and professional life, planning everything prepares me to do so when the time comes.
Two things I can’t live without are 1) my planner, and 2) Sticky-Notes. I jot everything down immediately in my *hard-copy* school planner (I’m too old-fashioned for electronic ones, like Google Calender. But still a really good option!); the results end up being super messy, with scribbles of different activities everywhere, but I manage to wade through it and extract the essence of my plans. The night before, I use my Sticky-Notes to further hone in my schedule for the following day: I break it down to what I ought to do in the morning, afternoon, and night, then number each activity down in order of what needs to be done first. I tack them onto my desk, go to bed, wake up, and proceed to follow the schedule as much as possible. Some people go for fifty percent; I go for one hundred. 😛
Again, I confess that sometimes, I don’t end up getting everything that I had planned done; things come up last minute, and throw other commitments off-kilter. But what I try to do is bounce back quickly, and make it up by prioritizing the things that I couldn’t do the previous day as the first thing that I do the next day. It’s all about equilibrium, folks.
Last thing: free time. Even though you may think that you’re too busy and stressed out to have any free time, you would be surprised that you have more than you think. Granted, it might not come off as obvious throughout your day, but that 30-minute block between classes or your one-hour lunch break count. And it’s amazing how much you can get done with that small window of time. I would use those moments to catch up on activities like responding to emails, doing schoolwork, updating my WordPress (*ahem ahem), and so forth. Taking advantage of those minutes instead of squandering them really makes a difference to your day’s productivity.
All right, that’s enough of me for today. Hope that I didn’t waste your time from this post. 😛 I’m also curious to know how you all manage your time, as my ideas are far from being comprehensive. Let me know! 🙂
– The Finicky Cynic