Classes and club meetings, paper deadlines, work, that midterm in three days, with some Facebook stalking thrown in between — How does one juggle it all? Here are some time management tips and useful tools for managing that busy college life.
Get a Planner and Bold those Big Dates
Majority of professors hand out a syllabus that outline paper and project deadlines. Get yourself a planner and write down all those important dates. Also add club events, meetings, socials, or anything else of the sort. Having all dates out in front of you like this lets you see everything coming at once, allowing you to figure out how to best allocate your time for everything. Or if you are not a fan of planners, there is always your phone’s or computer’s calendar system, Google’s calendar, etcetera.
Gmail and Google Calendar
Google Calendar alongside Gmail is another great tool for keeping up with everything. You can view Google Calendar as a daily, weekly, monthly, or four day calendar. Have fun color coding your schedule and setting up event reminders that can appear as a pop-up or as an e-mail. I also like to use Tasks in Gmail, especially for reminders pertaining to e-mails or things I need to do online, since I can leave it open so that every time I log into Gmail it is visible. I also use it to jot down things that come to mind mid-work or to remember websites that would otherwise be lost in a sea of bookmarks.
Turn the Enemy into a Friend: Internet and Computer Apps to Focus
“Just five minutes,” you tell yourself, and next thing you know, you have been watching Nyan Cat or Facebook chatting for an hour. But who says you can’t use the Internet to your advantage? Here are some good tools you can download in order to stay focused:
- StayFocusd is a Google Chrome extension where you can set up daily time limits for specific websites so you can get more work done. You set up a daily maximum time limit, a reset time, and select what days of the week you want StayFocusd to be active.
- SelfControl is a similar Mac application that you can also create a blocked list of websites and allot a time limit. SelfControl will not stop working even if you restart your computer or delete the application itself.
Include all websites in your Blocked List that you know you waste hours on, whether it be Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr or Lolcats. If it’s finals week, try out the StayFocusd’s Nuclear Option, which blocks absolutely everything.
This is obvious, but take care of assignments that are due the soonest. Also, do the hardest assignments first and save the easiest ones for last. Doing the most difficult assignments first allows you to work on them when your mind is freshest and best able to focus. By the time you get to the easier assignments later in the night, it is just a lot less frustrating when you have reached the point where you just want to be done.
Realistic Goals and Self-Discipline
Work hard, but remember to give yourself a break. For instance, treat yourself to an episode of your favorite television show after you get a certain amount of work done. However, be specific as to how much work. “I will get half of my work done for today” is vague and can be edited to your liking, meaning “half” of today’s work may change from 60 pages of reading to just 10. Instead, tell yourself “I will write 4 out of 8 pages of my paper before I have dinner with friends tonight” or “I will read 70 pages by 4 p.m. before I watch another episode.”
Get Away from it All
Better yet, just get away from it all. Change up your usual study place and go somewhere new. Leave your computer and iPod at home, switch off the WiFi on your phone and head over to the library or a local cafe with your books.
Still need help with your time management? Check out the video below!
Do you have any other cool time management tips? Let us know in the comments below!
Photo courtesy of Sadie Hernandez via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).