For most people, college is a time that heralds a busier schedule than they’ve ever had before. In high school, you were at one building for nearly eight hours of your day and didn’t have to worry about making a myriad of meetings in between classes as well as fitting in time to put in hours at your job or hang out with friends. In college, you have to juggle classes, extracurriculars, internships, jobs, and friends. College is just a taste of what life will be like after you graduate, when you commute to a full-time job, put at least eight hours in there, maybe take classes as well, try to see your friends, need to make appointments and run errands, and maybe eventually have a family on top of all that. Many people claim you can’t do it all and you have to learn to pick what matters the most to you, but I disagree. In order to succeed in college, and in life later on, all you need to do is learn how to master time management. You’ll find yourself much less stressed and realize how much more you get accomplished.
Write it all down
No matter how good your memory is, you have too much to remember when you’re trying to keep your schedule in order at college. Instead of relying on your mind to tell you what time your three meetings are next Tuesday, get in the habit of writing every obligation down. Use your phone’s calendar to keep track of work, class, and meetings and when and where they are. Invest in a planner, large enough to fit in all your obligations and write down every meeting you have that day and a to-do list as well.
Prioritize your activities
While I’m not saying you can’t do all the things you want to do, you need to learn to prioritize your responsibilities. If you have an essay due tomorrow that you need to finish, it isn’t the time to work on a project you could as easily do this weekend. Consider instituting a color-coding or numbering system so you know what’s most important to get down first. Once the bigger obligations are out of the way, you’ll feel less stressed and more prepared to focus on smaller tasks.
Using your planner, map out everything you need to do for the week, or even the month. Take time on a Sunday to look at what’s due in the upcoming week (or two) and figure out when you have time to do it. You might not have a test for another week, but maybe you only have significant time to study for a few nights beforehand. The more organized you are going into a busy week or month, the easier it will be to manage. Plan out when you’ll do your work, when you’ll hang out with friends, and when you’ll set time aside for yourself.
Create a routine
Your secret weapon to mastering time management is creating a routine and then sticking to it, even if your plans change. Get up as close to the same time as possible each day, even on the weekends when you could sleep in until noon. Getting up early gives you more time to accomplish tasks and you’ll be thankful for the extra time later on in the day. Eat meals at consistent times and make sure you allot yourself time to exercise and focus on doing something you enjoy in order to relieve some stress and step away from all your responsibilities.