Contributed by: Mary Ying
Life's a balancing act, and nowhere does that feel more apparent than during your first few months of college. It seems like everything needs to be juggled in timely fashion--friends, clubs, school work, sports, and even time to rest.
So here are a few tips I've learned so far this semester about balancing life in college and managing your time.
1. Take an Inventory: Sit down and decide how you want to divvy up your time between activities during the week. This should include everything from studying, sports, entertainment, friends, sleeping--you name it. Doing this early on in the semester can help give you a realistic sense of where your time will go and how much you have of it that's available.
2. Find a Plan of Action: Everyone has a method for implementing his or her time. Some scribble religiously in their agendas, others have a mental knack for keeping tally of the hours. It's just a matter of finding what works for you. I personally like to plug everything into my iCal so I can visualize my week.
You can see that I've set aside certain "blocks" of my day for different purposes; this way I can plan out of my day without over thinking what I need to do, and know that I've covered all my bases.
However you choose to organize your time, make sure you cover everything prescribed in your personal time budget. This will help you keep track of what you are doing, what you need to do and how much room you have in the day.
Not a fan of to-do lists and agendas? Here's a link to some sites with alternative tips for managing time
Now the first two pieces of advice might seem conventional once read, but here are a few other tips that you might not realize until you step onto a college campus yourself.
3. Don't be afraid to commit: This might seem counterintuitive at first, but if you're someone who values structure like I do, then don't be afraid to dive into joining a "big commitment" organization that meets on a regular basis--such as a sports team, a theatre production or a regular volunteer opportunity.
For example: I joined crew team, and while the schedule can be cumbersome at times, having regular practices every week gives me something to work the rest of my day around. You might even discover something you love and are willing to put time into every day!
4. Make room for downtime: Life gets pretty hectic and making time for yourself can often become a last priority. Avoid this by deliberately scheduling in some recovery time for yourself during the week so you can avoid burning out before the semester even ends. I purposely reserve my Sunday afternoons for napping, journaling, drinking tea, calling friends or whatever else I need or want to do to help me recharge before the coming week.
Stay flexible: Not everything will always go the way you expect. Not in college, nor in life. The key is to be prepared to adjust your schedule as the week goes by. Fall behind on studying for a class? Immediately reschedule some time during the weekend to catch up! Miss a date with a friend? Don't wait to message him or her and find another meeting time! Coach suddenly changes your practice time from 3PM to 5AM? It may be difficult but find a way to finish your homework and be in bed by 9! Don't get frazzled! I can't promise your schedule will always be perfect but so long as you stay vigilant in adjusting to your circumstances, you'll stay alive.
Time management is tough, but with practice and persistence, you'll find yourself getting a grip on college life promptly, and developing some important life skills.