Managing Your Time - 8 Ways I Stay Sane
One thing that I get asked all the time is “how do you have time for it all?” And sometimes I wonder that myself. I have three on-campus jobs and work retail on the side, take fifteen credit hours, most of which are reading-intensive (and I ALWAYS do my homework!), attend meetings and hold office hours for my TI class, and still manage to have something of a social life, kind of. Last Wednesday, for example, I got up at 3:45 AM to work at my retail job 4:30-8:30 (shipment, we’re not open that early!), had class or worked at the Writing Center 9-4, worked out and did homework for much of the evening, and went out for dinner with a friend. And still had time to read for fun and make it to bed by 10:30.
How do I do it? Honestly, I’m not entirely sure. And part of it is that I read really fast. But a few things I have learned along the way are:
- Be accountable to yourself. I’m a list person, and every day I make a to-do list of everything that I need to accomplish. And if I don’t read 200 pages of The Odd Women, update my TI binder or work out, for example, then I don’t get to laze about.
- BUT be realistic. As much as I want to read three novels in an afternoon, it’s not going to happen. I’ve been up all night, getting myself needlessly worked up because I wasn’t a week ahead anymore. Don’t. It’s not healthy.
- Prioritize We’re at college to learn. This means class should be the first priority. So as much as I’d love to pick up an extra shift or two at work to help someone out, if that means that I won’t have time for homework, I won’t do it. I’m not a party person, but if I were, the same would apply.
- Figure out how you work best. What’s most productive for your best friend, or your roommate, might not be the best for you. I need quiet when I do homework, and I do so much better if I start in the morning; I’m not good at being productive late at night. I can’t text until I reach the end of a chapter in a book or a paragraph in a paper, or else I get distracted. And while writing papers, I actually do better when I let myself take a break and mess around on the internet for a little after each paragraph. This gives my brain enough of a break that I can better focus on my work.
- Use the time you have. This was hard for me at first. I prefer to marathon my homework, but sometimes I only have thirty minutes before a class. And that time is perfectly usable. There’s no reason to waste all of your shorter chunks of time and hold out for a longer. I get so much done in my awkward hours between classes, or even read a quick chapter in twenty minutes when no one’s in tutoring. Breaking up the work this way frees up time later, when you’re less motivated.
- Get sleep! If you don’t get enough sleep, you’ll be too tired to get your work done, and what you do manage to accomplish will be lower-quality than if you had had at least six or so hours of rest.
- If you’re stuck—can’t think of anything else to say in your paper, have no idea what to do next on your calc problem, or have been reading the same paragraph over and over, change something. Work out for twenty minutes. Go someplace different to study. Take a shower (so many good ideas happen in the shower!). Have a snack. And come back, refreshed and ready to focus again.
- Reward yourself for accomplishing your goals. Let yourself have some time to relax your mind and body—to hole up and catch up on your favorite TV show, grab dinner with a friend, meditate, read a book for fun—whatever makes you happy. It’s okay :-)