With the beginning of my senior year of college approaching *monotone screaming*, I’ve been thinking a lot about time management and organization. It may surprise you that I’m actually a very organized person, despite being the poster child for ADHD. Part of that is because I’m very forgetful- I have to write things down, otherwise it goes in one ear and out the other.
You don’t have to buy a fancy planner or a million folders, but I personally just love all that stuff. When planning becomes fun and crafty, rather than just a chore, it motivates me to plan even more! In preparation for the school year, I bought this really adorable spiral planner from Amazon, and a large weekly notepad. I love this planner because comes with a lot of other fun features, like stickers, a built-in calendar, and (my favorite part), a budget planner!
If you’re someone who easily feels overwhelmed, especially with your college workload, I can’t stress a weekly notepad enough. No matter how much work I have to do, I feel much less frazzled when I put it all on paper in front of me. Visually displaying your weekly commitments can also make it easier for you to find time for other, equally important things- like self care. And “you” time.
One way I like to enjoy “me time” is by taking a nightly shower rather than a morning one. For one thing, it means you can sleep in just a little bit later before class. Secondly, it can make showering feel more like a pampering experience, instead of just another thing you have to rush through in the morning. I personally love looking forward to a nice, long, hot shower at the end of every day; it’s a chance for me to really spend time on myself while also unpacking all of the mental baggage of the day. It’s also a great way to relax your muscles at the end of the day- something you’ll definitely need after carrying around a literal heavy backpack.
Another way to utilize your time is to really take advantage of those random 30-60 minute free blocks scattered around your day. Even though I’m taking six classes this semester, I still have a lot of empty spaces spread around throughout my day. Sure, you could use that to take a nap or stare blankly at a cinderblock wall as you question your life choices (we’ve all been there), but why wouldn’t you use that time to get some work done? You’re already in that work-mode from scuttering around classes all day, so might as well get as much done as you can now so you have less to worry about when you go back to your room that night. If I have the time (which I’ve found I always do), I make a point of trying to get all my work done before dinner, which is usually 6 or 7 pm. I’m not saying you shouldn’t take breaks throughout the day, but if you realistically have 60 minutes to spare, do you really need to sit and do nothing for that long? I prefer instead to take a 10-15 minute break, grab a snack, scroll through Instagram, and then settle down somewhere quiet to do some work on my laptop. Before you know it, you’ve killed an hour, and that paper you were fretting about is already half done.
I think the biggest anxiety incoming freshmen have about college is learning how to balance their time. Realistically, you’re not going to get everything done in one sitting. You have to stagger yourself. Get a little done in the morning, a little at noon, and a couple more things at the end of the day. Don’t work yourself to death trying to stay up until 3am, because that’s not good for your body or your mental health. Make a list of your daily priorities, from most important to least. If you don’t get around to the last couple of things, it’s not the end of the world. Put it on the list for the next day. Most college classes only meet twice a week- some only once! If you don’t think you can get it done the day it’s assigned, just push it to the next day.
I can’t stress this enough- you need at least one day off a week from classes, work, and internships. I understand it sounds nearly impossible to completely free up one day, but YOUR MENTAL HEALTH IS SO IMPORTANT. I spent the majority of this summer saving over $1,000 so that I wouldn’t have to go back to my campus job, because I’m going to have a mandatory internship in the spring (and it likely will not be paid). I would rather have busy weekdays, work/internship on a Friday or Saturday, and then Sunday free to myself just to catch my breath. For you, it might be something totally different. Maybe it just so happens that you don’t have any classes on Tuesday, and you work both days every single weekend. Congratulations, Tuesday is now “you time” day!
I’ll give you an example of how I would divvy-up my time with this schedule. Like I said, I’m not working a formal job this fall (with the exception of some dog walking on the side), and I’m not starting an internship until the spring. As you can see, I have large chunks of available time dotted throughout the week, and I’m especially open on Tuesdays and Fridays. If I wanted to, I could punch in some volunteer work, a part-time job, or join a club on those days, and still have my Saturdays and Sundays free. If not, I have more than enough time to get all my homework done before even dinner time, and then I’m free to go out with my friends whatever night of the week I want. It’s actually really fun to sit down and re-work your schedule in a way that fits your physical, mental, social, and emotional needs.
I don’t want to deflect the fact that some people do have to work full time while in college to support themselves, and their schedule likely looks very different than mine. It’s all about finding time that works for you. Even if it’s just a half hour to yourself every day, make the most of that half hour. Because trust me, time flies, and nothing goes by faster than college.
Coming up next: My Favorite Ethical Clothing Companies