Rarely do college students have school as their only responsibility. Properly managing jobs, extracurriculars, relationships, and personal health is an extremely important tool for succeeding both in and outside of school. Finding the balance between all of these is different for each person, but figuring out what works best for you is the first step.
Recognizing the Problem
As a student with two jobs, completing various major-related responsibilities, and mentoring three freshmen, it is easy to get overwhelmed by it all. My original method to address this situation was to set goals for each day. This was inspired by a 2014 commencement speech for the University of Texas by William McRaven, where he states, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and encourage you to do another task… and another… and another…” While my goal setting wasn’t limited to making my bed, it would be equally simple, like studying for half an hour or completing a specific assignment. Accomplishing these tasks within my allotted 24 hours gave me the feeling of productivity, but I found myself procrastinating these tasks until 11:30 p.m. I needed a sense of structure with my chores.
Finding a Solution
I decided to begin waking up at the same time every day, regardless of when I went to sleep the night before. If I went to bed at 10 p.m., I needed to be up by 7 a.m. the next day. Even if I went to sleep at 3 a.m., I still needed to be up at 7 a.m. This consistent wake-up time allowed me to have the same amount of time to myself each morning to do any tasks I had set that day. Keeping the same schedule and completing my tasks earlier in the day meant I had more time for other activities. I started attending clubs, I got two jobs, and I became a business mentor in my university. Additional responsibilities aren’t the only thing I gained from a consistent schedule though.
Getting A Little Extra
With the extra time I had, I was able to plan my meals and spend actual time cooking. Morning sugary cereals became eggs with toast and spinach. A rushed Panda Express lunch became a meal that I had prepped hours, sometimes days ahead of time. With a healthier diet I have more energy, things like working out or studying no longer felt like a chore. It took over a year to figure out my own personal grove, what worked for me, what didn’t. Even today I’m still finding new ways to better budget my time and energy, but the benefits of it are incredible.
I’m thankful for a stressful beginning. Without it, I may have never been pushed to change. A healthy schedule can change your approach to each day, each month, each term, and maybe even each year. When you’re not stressed day-to-day, you find more time to plan long term goals.