Time management during college can be difficult, even if you’re normally an organized person. Between class, studying, work and a social life (if you’re lucky) it’s easy to lose track of an assignment or an important meeting.
Often students new to college struggle with knowing when to do what, and what to skip entirely. Some people struggle with organizing their schedule and managing their time well after the start of college, so here are a few tips I have come to live by after two years in college.
First, it is important to have somewhere to write down important dates. For me, that's on a whiteboard calendar, in my phone’s calendar, in a planner and on my desk calendar. You certainly don’t need to have all of these modes of organization, but having more than one place where you keep important days and times is a good idea.
I think of it as a firewall. If I forget to check my planner or the calendar when I am walking out the door, my phone’s calendar is a handy failsafe. If you didn’t already know, when you enter an event into your phone’s calendar you can set it to notify you.
I keep my planner with me all day, every day so I can write down important assignments, dates or meeting when I find out about them. One of the easiest ways to forget about something important is by not writing it down as soon as you find out about it.
Excel is your friend. Many people find Excel daunting to use for school or work, let alone in day-to-day life. However, Excel has a whole host of functions that you can utilize if writing down things in a planner or calendar just isn't going to work for you. Additionally, it helps if you need to keep track of how much money you are spending.
If you already have a method for keeping track of important events and assignments but you still struggle with time management you might not be prioritizing the right things. For example, it's easy to start spending too much time out with friends and not enough time studying.
This is why I make sure I set aside time every week for studying and I treat it like any other university class I would be attending. That way my study time is already set out and I don’t find myself cramming at weird hours of the night after doing other things that really weren’t all that important.
If you don’t know how many hours a week you will need to study for each class, read the class syllabus. This may sound like a novel idea, since most syllabi get handed out and never opened. Usually professors will say how many hours students should allot for the class — if they don’t you can always ask.
The next thing I am going to recommend is knowing when to do the reading for class and when not.
If you are taking upper-level classes it is nearly impossible to do all of the readings all of the time. You aren’t super-human, and that’s okay. Deciding what you need to read and what you should skip can be dicey. I always read for classes that have discussions or reading quizzes. Other readings you can skim over, or search SparkNotes and Quizlet for a brief synopsis.
Another thing that usually ends up on the back burner is sleep. Sleep is precious, and if you want to be able to make it through your long week of three exams, a double-shift and four papers you will need to be rested.
Sleep usually ends up last on the list, after having a social life. I would recommend getting a few hours of shut eye instead of staying out late on a school or work night. Take care of your body and it will take care of you. Burning both ends of the candle will on result in stress (and the flu).
Megan Holmen is the assistant news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or on Twitter @megan_holmen.