College is the best time to start adulting (or at least practice adulting) and one of the first steps is learning how to manage your time efficiently. Regardless of what grade you’re in, it’s important to be in control of how you spend your time whether you’re a freshman brand new to campus or a senior all too ready to graduate. Procrastinating a few hours here or there might not seem like much, but it adds up fast. That said, between your social life, focusing on academics and work or internships, it’s not news that it can be hard to balance everything on your plate. Here are our tips for managing time better:
Start tackling your activities and duties in order of importance and when they’re due! Not prioritizing tasks often leads to working on that paper that isn’t due until next week and leaving your project due tomorrow until the last minute since it’s your least favorite class. Prioritizing will help you bite the bullet and stay accountable, so you feel on top of everything (at least mostly) instead of always stressed and overwhelmed. Do you have an exam next Tuesday? Start studying little by little since day one so you don’t have to cram at the very last minute. Do you have a 15-page paper due in a couple weeks? Start now! Little by little, and you’ll have more time to review it by the time you finish. The paper is more fun to write but the exam is coming sooner? Study for the exam and put the paper on hold! This might sound like common sense, but it can slip our minds more often than we think, with all the seemingly endless tasks and engagements we have as a college student.
2. Set a time limit
We often get distracted and procrastinate without a time limit for how long we have to finish the task or how long we can take a break. Getting distracted just wastes time you could have used to work on that next to-do list item! If we set a time limit on how long we have to finish a paper, such as 6 pm to 8 pm, we’ll have an easier time organizing the time to complete the task. A popular app you can download to help manage time better is Forest, which follows the Pomodoro time saving technique.
3. Just say no
Jim Carrey’s character from would urge you not to do this – but it’s okay to just say no! Sometimes its better to say no to some activities because of other more important duties and tasks that are needed to be completed (see: number one, prioritize). As students, we can only handle so much, and we have to say no to some dinner plans and party invitations. But don’t worry—the better you get at time management, the more free time you’ll have to accept those fun invites! It’s all about balance. For example, if you’re on your way to Ode to get a head start on studying for that exam you know you’ll need to ace for your GPA to stay afloat and you bump into some friends heading to the Ave for some drinks, just say no! You’ll have plenty of time to hang out with them after. Our time is limited, especially in a quarter system, use it wisely.
4. Create a to-do list and online calendar
It’s difficult to remember all the activities and tasks we must complete, which is why we have to say no sometimes. Having a to-do list can help you get (and stay) organized, ticking off the tasks we’ve completed, reminding us of the projects due soon, and deadlines fast approaching. Best of all? That sense of accomplishment as you cross off each item. Buy a planner or use the calendar app on your phone. Planners are good since you can use them for taking other notes as well and you’ll retain the memory better, but if you’re looking for a venue for an event or meeting you wrote in your planner, it might be a hassle to take it out and flip to the right page. Typing it in on your phone won’t solidify the memory, but it’s convenient and it saves paper! #GoGreen. There are pros and cons to both, but at the end of the day they’ll both help us stay organized!
5. Plan ahead
This might be second nature to university college students, but it would help immensely to plan ahead. Planning ahead can help save time which might have been used for thinking aimlessly about what to do. Planning ahead could be done the night before, or first thing in the morning. The night before is often a more convenient step. An important interview the next day? Have your suit or blouse all laid out by your bed so it you won’t spend time picking the right outfit.