We all go into college with the understanding that the work we do on an academic level will be much more time consuming, tedious, and, let’s be honest, quite painful at times. However, most students, new to college-level academics, can sometimes find themselves feeling like a fish out of water with all of the academic and personal demands that they now find themselves answering to. At least, I know that’s how I felt my Freshman year every now and again. Nevertheless, don’t panic! It’s really not all that complicated to find the perfect balance between time devoted to academics versus time devoted to, well, yourself, whether that be with friends or binging on Netflix and eating ice cream straight from the gallon (not that I do that…). This semester, I’m taking eighteen credits, sixteen of which are science courses with lab. That being said, I obviously needed to construct some time management guidelines in my head for the semester, to prevent losing my mind completely. Below I’ve included some of my personal time management tips and tricks that work wonders for me, and hopefully for you, as well!
How to not lose your mind:
- DO NOT forget about you.
The feeling of never-ending work to be done will never go away. It’s part of being an adult, unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean you should neglect your own needs (i.e., sleep, healthy eating, friends, hobbies, exercise, etc.). Trust me, this is definitely #1 for time management, otherwise you’ll burn out all too soon, and no one wants that!
- Make a study schedule.
This might sound a bit ridiculous, but carving specific time out in your schedule that you will devote, solely, to studying for a certain exam or a certain chapter that is really not clicking with you. I have a special calendar that I print out each month, specifically addressing the times I will work on a certain assignment, read a chapter, or study for a subject.
- Organize! Organize! Organize!
It might sound boring or like a waste of your time, but it really pays off to organize your schedules. Not only am I taking eighteen credits, but I’m also in eight different organizations on campus, I work as an Ambassador, I compete on the Women’s Tennis team here. That’s a lot of time-committed activities (but it’s totally worth it and not at all impossible). So, I have a calendar on my phone, laptop, iPad, as well as two separate planners, and multiple printed calendars that I make myself. On these calendars, I color-code everything! The colors are broken down a little something like this: exams/quizzes, assignments, work, tennis, student organizations, meetings/appointments, special events, birthdays, etc. I check off each item as it’s accomplished.
- Mix up your study location and review your notes within 24 hours of taking them!
Your memory is better able to solidify information into your long-term memory if you revisit that information within 24 hours of learning it (trust me, I’m a neuroscience major, I know weird things like this). Due to this solidification of information, it takes much less time out of your schedule when it comes time to review for exams, since the information has been locked in your long-term memory. Also, by mixing up the locations that you study or get assignments done at, it prevents any “blanking” on a test (i.e., totally spacing what you’ve been studying for the past week). This is due to the flexibility that you’ve trained your brain with by frequently studying somewhere new.
- Whatever you do, DON’T do it alone!!!
I’m the type of person who cannot focus on what I’m studying when I’m with friends or even classmates (mostly because I’m a chatty-Cathy… I’ll admit it), however, I still make it a point to study and get assignments done with my friends (who just so happen to be my classmates, as well), at least 60% of the time. Something that my COR 1 professor always used to say caused me to form this habit: No one of us is as smart as all of us. Of course, she meant it in a teamwork sense, but I still apply it to getting work done. On multiple occasions, my friends have shared their memorization/study tricks with me that have worked much better than anything I was doing. Also, take advantage of your professors! They have office hours for a reason! Even if I think I did something correctly, I still verify that with my professor before turning it in. They love that I do this! It really doesn’t take too much time out of your day, and I learn even more tips and tricks for acing the course from them! They can also recommend a great tutor for whatever you may be struggling with, so don’t hesitate to take them up on that offer! It’ll be worth it in the end, I promise!
Hopefully some of these tips and tricks are something that you can utilize, no matter where you find yourself in life. Just because this was college-academics oriented doesn’t mean you can’t apply some of these time management tips once you get into your career. Good luck and happy learning!