Close your eyes and picture this: it’s the night before your Chemistry midterm and you have yet to study. You know that you are unprepared for the exam, but you have been too busy cramming to finish a 10 page paper for your Global Studies class to review the material. When you finally submit your paper, minutes before the deadline, you are exhausted and fall asleep on top of your Chemistry textbook. A week later, you get your grades back and find out that you received a D on your midterm and a C on your paper.
If you are like most college students, this scenario likely feels all too familiar. And, if you’re me, it reminds you of the time this actually happened to you during your first semester of freshman year. Regardless as to whether you’ve been there once or twice in your college career or find yourself in this position regularly, there are ways that you can escape the black hole of ineffective time management. So sit down, grab a coffee or a snack, and allot yourself 10 minutes to read this blog because I am going to share with you some secrets that I have learned that can help you make the most of your time!
Schedule, schedule, schedule!
The reason time management becomes an issue for most college students is because having the freedom to make your own schedule often results in no schedule at all. I have learned that planning out my days is vital to my success as a student. By giving everything in your schedule—no matter how small—a deadline, you’re actually freeing up time for other things. I have found that sitting down each evening and writing out my obligations and assignments for the next day has helped me manage my time effectively. Whether you use an agenda, online calendar, or the reminder feature on your phone, creating a game-plan for your day will keep you motivated and on track. Nothing motivates me more than waking up knowing exactly where I need to start.
Hold yourself accountable!
Planning out what you need to do each day doesn’t always mean that all of your responsibilities will be accomplished. The secret to scheduling is learning to hold yourself accountable to your plan. Also, keep in mind that this does not mean that you cannot be flexible, but it does mean that, if you said you were going to study between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m., you actually sit down and do it. Maximize your productivity in those two hours you allotted yourself by minimizing your distractions. Put electronic devices down or away and find an environment that fits your specific needs. If that means finding somewhere quiet in order to focus, or sitting outside because the fresh air boosts your mood, do exactly that!
Find time for what is most important—YOU!
The aspect of scheduling and accountability that seems to scare most college students is the misconception that there will be no time left for yourself. The beauty of a schedule is that you are able to arrange time for what is most important—your physical and mental well-being! I know that it can be all too easy to devote every waking moment you have to school and work. But studying all the time often leaves you feeling unmotivated, unhappy, and burnt out. When you create your agenda, think about what brings you joy. For me, that is time to go for a run, practice yoga, grab dinner with friends, or visit one of my favorite art museums. Doing this may seem counter-intuitive, but by giving yourself a break, you are setting yourself up for success. You will be able to tackle things more effectively if you are physically rested and mentally rejuvenated!
I can thankfully inform you that, although I may not be able to retake that freshman year Chemistry midterm or rewrite the Global Studies paper, my academic performance has since improved immensely by learning how to manage my time effectively. The next time you feel swamped, take some time to implement these student-approved secrets into your daily life. Just 10 minutes a night can help you to make the most of your time and take back the control of your personal, professional, and academic success!