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If you have been in college for at least a week, you know that the hardest thing about being a college student is time management.  Between homework, extra curriculars, having a crappy part-time job, maybe an internship, maintaining some sort of social life, there is barely any time to sleep.  And sleep is probably more important than any of those things I’ve just listed.  If you are unable to manage all of your time properly, you will have to sacrifice at least one of those things, and thus you will suffer in some way.

Giving out advice for managing time is tricky, because the technique that works best for me may drive you to spend 8 hours taking quizzes on BuzzFeed. Ultimately, it comes down to trying a bunch of techniques until you find the one that works best and keeping you from having weekly mental breakdowns.  If you are deep in the throes of a battle with procrastination, or just want to get a little more organized and free up a little more time for frat parties, give one of these techniques a shot:

1. Write things down.  Like with a pen.

I’ve tried the whole, keeping track of deadlines on my iPhone calendar, and I find it still doesn’t work.  I either forget what I’m supposed to do completely, or get sidetracked when I am going through my virtual To-do list and end up playing Candy Crush (is that still cool?) and scrolling aimlessly through Twitter (clearly, the real time-management secret is to not have a cell-phone).  Our generation has seemingly forgotten what pens and paper are for, and that’s a shame.

I’ve been using a plain old notepad to keep a running to do list of all my assignments and meetings, and it is actually working.  Crossing an item off that list is such a relief, it makes doing a few hours of work feel worth it.  If you are super organized, you can try a date planner or agenda, but writing everything down under specific dates makes me panic a little.  I’m just going to end up moving half of Tuesday’s tasks to Wednesday anyway, so I may as well not add the extra stress of having rigid deadlines and then feeling like a failure when I don’t meet them.

2. Maximize productivity by…taking breaks?

There’s been this amazing discovery that by taking relatively frequent breaks, you can actually accomplish more during the work day.  For example, if you just sit at your desk for 8 hours, and only take a one-hour lunch break halfway through, you will probably get bored, and will maybe only actually work for about 5 hours, maybe.  If you take a 15-minute break after every 45 minutes of work, you will end up having been more productive during those 45 minute chunks than during your long, boring 8 hours.  Don’t trust me? Read this.  It works.  And you can start slow by doing 5 minute breaks after 30 minutes, and work your way up to long productive chunks.  You get a break at the end, and you have a specific time you have to work for, so it is less likely you will cheat than if you were to make a blanket statement like “eh, I’ll just work on this paper for a little bit.”  You may intend for your “little bit” to be at least an hour, but realistically it will last all of 30 seconds.

3. Set reasonable deadlines/goals

Similar to some of the points in the above technique, if you set ridiculous goals for yourself, you are going to get discouraged, and end up spending less time working, falling behind schedule and setting yourself up for yet another all-nighter.  If you plan on working all day Saturday before you go out for the night, have a specific amount of work you want to finish before you rip your first shot (if you are 21+, duh).  Instead of telling yourself to just finish a few pages, tell yourself you are going to finish 3 pages.  Or read 5 chapters.  Be honest with your brain.  It feels good to set reasonable goals and accomplish them.

4. Turn off the damn Internet

The Internet will always be more interesting than your homework assignments.  Always. The best way to avoid this awful distraction is to eliminate it.  There are plenty of apps and programs you can get that will actually turn your browsers off for a certain amount of time, so you won’t be able to use the internet.  Of course, you also need to turn of your cellphone and throw a brick through your TV.  Give yourself a few hours of offline time, and once you get passed stressing out about all the texts, calls, and fb chats you’ll miss (approximately 3), your productivity should sky rocket.

How do you manage your time? 

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