Being a student is hard. There’s the seemingly endless pressure to earn top grades, work to pay your bills (and loans), participate in student organizations, all while attempting to have a social life. There’s no denying that the life of a modern student has become increasingly different over the years. In the midst of all this busyness, it’s easy to find ourselves making excuses as to why we don’t have the time for additional opportunities or experiences. The harsh truth is that we’re always going to be busy and overwhelmed, that doesn’t end with college. When we graduate, we will find ourselves with more work and more responsibilities. Welcome to “adulting,” if you figure out how to make it stop, be sure to let me know.
Fortunately, there are an infinite of ways to take your heavy workload and turn it from overwhelming into tolerable. Then you’ll have no excuse as to why you don’t have the time to attend that networking event or join the board for a community organization. Time management is a skill that you develop over time. I’m here to share with you my cheat sheet of how to stay busy, say yes to new opportunities, and not lose your mind during the process.
Where does your time go? It’s not you, it’s your time management skills. While it might seem as if you don’t have the time to join an extra club, attend lectures, or take the time for a networking event, I promise you that you’re probably wrong. One of the best things you can do is perform an honest evaluation of how you spend your time. Track how much time you spend studying, in classes, at work, driving, eating, laying around watching Netflix, and how much you procrastinate before beginning your homework. Once you understand where your time is going you can begin to make the steps to make the most of the minutes in your day. You may find that you have more free time than you realized.
You need self-control. Tell Netflix you’re not still watching. One of the most important aspects of improving your time management skills is exercising self-control. Everyone procrastinates, but give yourself a time limit. Yes, that might defeat the purpose of procrastination, but learn to exercise your self-control and make yourself get back to work. Before you decide to watch another episode of your favorite show, read another chapter, or go out with friends, be sure you have the time to spare. Develop your self-control so you’re able to make the most of your time. Pro tip: give yourself five minutes before a project and schedule breaks to break up the monotony.
Get your priorities straight. What is most important to you? What can afford to be pushed to the side this week? Keep a list of the things to-do for the week along with the things you’d like to do in your free time. Those lists will help you find the balance of making sure you hit your deadlines, spend time with the people who are important to you, and don’t miss networking opportunities. It’s essential to understand that there will be some weeks that something has to take a backseat to other tasks. When those weeks occur, you must be fully aware of your priorities and which sacrifices you have to make to hit the important deadlines.
Know your limits. You can’t do everything and you can’t push yourself 110 percent every day. Part of time management is understanding when to ask for help and when to give yourself a break. Give yourself time to relax so that you’re able to give your best work and your time to the tasks, events, and people that matter to you.
Developing your time management skills will involve extensive trial and error situations. You’ll find practices that work and you’ll learn what doesn’t work. Finding that extra can be difficult, but at the end of the day you’ll be grateful for it.