As I’ve grown older, I have come to realize the value of things. As children we valued the items that would captivate our attention – toys, gadgets, electronics, shows, etc. As teenagers, we placed high value on our friend groups, on fitting in, on trendy clothes/accessories, in being perceived as “popular”. As I have braced the beginning of this concept of “adulting”, I faced a hard truth as I began to realize that what I valued most, I had the least amount of – time.
College, while full of opportunities to grow and develop one’s character is also a time where everything is fast-paced and fleeting. Each week, a student has multitudes of assignments and responsibilities, on top of each month’s bigger assignments and projects. In order to fit the essential courses into a four year timeline for graduation, a semesters and it’s accompanying coursework moves at an accelerated rate. Not to mention the hours spent on homework necessary to pass a course, studying, and other involvements outside of academics.
Needless to say, there’s a reason that college students can often be pegged as sleep deprived. Many students sacrifice their sleep, being that they simply run out of time to complete everything during daylight hours. But how are college students supposed to meet the high demands placed on them – do well in classes, get involved on and off campus, have a social life, work a job, etc. – and place emphasis on time for rest and for self? How do we efficiently and effectively spend the precious time we are given?
I am no master of time, but my friends will affirm the simple truth that I am time and task oriented. Some will say that certain people are just more detail-oriented than others, that Type A’s are better at organizing and thus better at managing their time better; but what does that mean for the Type B’s? I refuse to believe that some people were meant to succeed in managing their time and some others simply cannot do it. How can we train ourselves and cultivate skills in time management? What are some practical steps college students can take to manage their time better? In honor of finals approaching, as I sit in a coffee shop this rainy December working on my assignments, I offer the stressed, sleep-deprived, worried college student some of my best tips and tricks for time management:
- Write it down – our thoughts can run one-hundred miles and hour when we are stressed and sometimes little details or commitments we promised escape us. Our minds are full of information we are memorizing for class, as well as responsibilities and schedules for each passing day. Writing it down helps us keep track of the things racing through our minds. This can mean a planner (I encourage you to find which version works for you), sticky notes, or a journal. Whatever medium you choose, remain consistent in writing down all your thoughts.
- You are not a robot – no matter how hard we try, how deluxe our planners are, or how detailed our Google Calendars are, we sometimes will fail in making everything happen. I like to remind myself of the quote, “you can do anything, but not everything.” If you are like me, once you get the hang of mastering your schedule with a certain set of involvements, you think that adding another thing is just like tetris – you can move things around, cut something here, and sacrifice this thing there. The thing with playing that game is that your precious schedule is dependent on precision and accuracy. One wrong move, one missed meeting, or one late morning can destroy everything you worked so hard with your colored pens to create. Give yourself some space to make mistakes and realize that you will make them.
- Rest – if you are reading this blog and/or seeking time management skills, you are probably someone who is busy; busy with life, responsibilities, school, etc. While there are a lot of things I could say about managing time, I believe that rest is one of the most important things for the busy bee. If you want to take on all of these challenges, you must make intentional time for you to rest and recharge. I say “must” because I used to think this was an optional piece of advice. How you choose to rest will look different from one person to the next, but I will leave that up to you. But when I say must, I mean it.