If you can manage your time properly, you can have time for school, work, friends, and sleep – seems fake, right? But I promise! With the right planner and a little bit of discipline, you can be a social not-zombie with good grades (most days, at least – I’m not a miracle worker).
your planner, aka best friend
This is the most important piece of the puzzle (besides keeping up with it, of course.)
- I prefer daily planners, so that you can have every hour of your day laid out.
- Weekly planners work well if you don’t have many commitments. I prefer Moleskine for this if your schedules not too busy, or Day Designer’s line at Target has a bit more room.
- You could also go the bullet journal route if you prefer!
- Monthly planners/calendars are a good supplement to one of the above, but I would discourage you from using one on it’s own.
Once you have a planner, it’s no use unless you actually keep up with it. Enter in assignments as you get them. Enter both the due date, and the date you should start working on it. Give yourself more time than you need!
how to plan your day
I start every morning by checking my planner (okay, I actually check Instagram first). Look at what’s due soon, and make a quick to do list to start. Give yourself plenty of wiggle-room when you schedule, so that when things don’t go as planned it doesn’t send you into panic mode. You can either schedule your day hour for hour, or you can just make a general outline of what needs to get done that day. It all depends on your personality and how busy your schedule is; for me, some days are planned in detail and others I just have a simple to do list.
managing study time
- The pomodoro technique is my favorite strategy for managing time while studying. If you’re not familiar with the method, you set a timer for 25 minutes and work; at the end of the 25 minutes you take a 5 minute break and then start again. It keeps me on track, but still reminds me to take a short break to stretch or get a snack. The chrome extension Strict Workflow is my favorite timer, because it cuts off access to distracting websites until your break.
- Don’t waste your time staring at a blank Word doc! If you can’t seem to motivate yourself to do something, move onto a different project and try again later. You’ll feel motivated after knocking out an easy task and be able to write that paper even easier.
- If you have a lot of projects to work on, like during finals week, know when you’re spending too much time on one thing and need to walk away. I’m a total perfectionist, so it’s easy for me to get caught up in making one thing perfect and run out of time to do the rest. Keep an eye on the clock and remember if you have more things to do.
managing your other responsibilities
This is where it gets hard – balancing school and work and friends and maybe even sleeping at some point in there. A few tips:
- Your to do list isn’t just for projects: if you need to put “take a shower” on there for it to happen, do it.
- Take some time before you go to bed to tidy up.
- If it takes less than two minutes, do it when you see it.
- Have a study free day: work ahead so that you can have one full day off to spend time with friends, get caught up on other things, etc.
- Work ahead so that if something fun comes up, you won’t be stuck at home studying.
- Don’t be afraid to say no. Sometimes you just can’t take on another responsibility, and that’s fine.
- Go straight back to pre-K and give yourself a bedtime. Apple’s new bedtime feature will even give you an hour’s heads up, so you can start wrapping things up and get some sleep.
Once you get the hang of planning and sticking to it, you’ll be amazed by how much free time you actually have!
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