In starting my second year here at UMD, I have found myself having to make some changes from how I lived out my first two semesters here. Specifically, I have had to put more thought and effort into managing my time. During my first year at UMD, I took only 15 credits per semester and I took them all in-person. Also, I worked only about 10 hours per week. I was involved in intramurals, psychology club, and dedicated to working out, which has all remained. This year, though, I am taking 18 credits, 12 of which are online, and working 20-25 hours per week. Because of this increase in coursework and time spent working, I needed to add and change some of my previous habits in order to better manage my time. I’m sharing my tips with you for how I make sure I get everything done when it is supposed to be done:
If you’re anything like me, getting enough sleep is CRUCIAL. I cannot function productively on less than eight hours of sleep each night and I strive to get nine. Of course, I want to stay up late watching movies, spending time with my friends, or catching up on my favorite Netflix series, but I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, my productivity the next day will plummet. So how do I do it? I give myself a bedtime. If I know I need to be awake tomorrow morning at 8 AM, I make sure I am in bed with my phone and computer powered off by 11 PM the night before. I am the type of person who needs a while to unwind before falling asleep, so I try to be in bed even earlier so I can watch a show or read for awhile and still get my 9 hours of sleep. This helps me wake up and feel energized to tackle my day.
Use a Planner
By now, I am sure everyone has heard someone tell them they should really use a planner. I know it sounds cheesy, but believe me, it is so necessary. At the beginning of this semester, I spent hours looking through my class syllabi and writing due dates in my planner. I write every single assignment, project, quiz, and exam due date in my planner, which really helps me plan out my weeks. Then, on Sunday nights, I look at the assignments I have due during the upcoming week and make to-do lists for each day of the week. I like to make a list for each day of the week because it helps me balance the amount of schoolwork I do each day. I find that when I don’t do this, I procrastinate and push tasks to the next day and then I grow frustrated and stressed because I have more to do. I use Post-It notes for my to-dos and then I just stick them in my planner. When I finish an assignment, I cross it off on my to-do list as well as in my actual planner. Let me tell you — this is the best feeling ever.
Use Google Calendar
Another resource I use when it comes to planning is Google Calendar. I have found that this is pretty hit or miss — some students use it and rely on it completely and others have never even opened it. Because Google is what our campus uses to communicate, I highly suggest using Google Calendar. If you need to meet with a professor, all you need to do is type in their name and you can see when they are busy. This can be done with students, advisors, and anyone on campus, too. For me, Google Calendar helps me plan my days. I have two calendars I use — one visible for everyone and one only I can see. I use my visible calendar for things I don’t mind people seeing such as my work schedule, class schedules, and when I have meetings and such. My other calendar, though, is what I use for my personal life. I schedule when I am going to the gym, time with friends, and really anything I am doing outside of school. What is amazing about Google Calendar is that I can have my work/class schedule visible to everyone and my personal schedule private, but one of my professors will still see everything I have going on if he or she were to look at my calendar. This is because Google just writes ‘Busy’ on time slots that are scheduled privately. Each week, when I am making my to-do lists, I check my calendar to see what I have going on each day, which helps me make realistic to-do lists for each day.
Stay on Campus
This is definitely something that is much different than last year, as I was always on campus. Now that I live off campus, I have learned that in order to be as productive as possible, I need to stay on campus as much as I can. When I go home, I find myself getting cozy and then not wanting to come back to campus or getting anything done at home. This also requires planning, though. If you have breaks in your days, try your best to stay on campus so you can get some work done. Packing a lunch is also a great way to make sure you are not tempted to go back home throughout your day. Want to get a workout in? Either pack the things you need for the gym and go when your day is done or consider getting a locker in the locker room so you can leave your gym essentials on campus. By staying on campus as much as possible, I find myself accomplishing more and being more productive. It also makes going home at the end of the day super awesome because I typically am done for the day when I get home.
This is my final tip for being productive and managing your time. Taking breaks while you are studying or working on assignments is extremely important. Whether it be watching a short Youtube video, getting up and walking around, or just spending a few minutes on your phone, taking breaks will help you be even more efficient because it will keep you from burning out. I like to work for 45 minutes and then take 10-15 minutes to let my brain relax. Sometimes, though, I will take a little break after I finish an assignment to regroup before moving on to the next task. For me, this pushes me to work hard on homework because I know I can rest once I finish or once the time is up. It also helps keep me awake because I don’t allow myself to just sit and work for hours and hours on end.
The life of a college student is busy — there’s no getting around that. That’s why it is so important to manage your time and make sure you are using it wisely. I had to alter my time management skills from last year to better accommodate to my life this semester. Ultimately, it is up to you to find time management strategies that work for you, but hopefully some of my tips are helpful.
Photo Source: Unsplash | Aron Visuals