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10 Steps to Time Management (with some special tips for CMU Freshmen)

So, it’s back to the grind at Carnegie Mellon. You know the deal: long hours in the library, longing for sleep in your bed, and plenty of stress piled upon that growing schedule. How is it possible to be involved in organizations, get through class work and still have time for a social life? It’s all about how you plan and manage your time.

And if you’re a freshman, don’t worry: the adjustment can take a little time. Don’t worry if things don’t always seem to go your way at first—it’s all about adjusting to a new way of living. There may be some bumps in the road, but if you follow these steps, you’re guaranteed to have a more successful year.

10. Get a calendar or a planner.
Whether it’s the calendar on your phone or a paper calendar on your desk, use it. You can document meeting times, block off class times and schedule in time for social activities.

9. Write down everything.
At the end of your day, you will not remember what your professor said in the first five minutes of class. As your schedule starts to fill up, leaving reminders to do laundry and to go grocery shopping are important. You don’t want to forget the little things.

8. Make time for you.
Remember to relax. College is stressful and time is more valuable than money. But taking ten minutes to paint your nails and calm yourself down is important for keeping a clear mind. Exercise can also be extremely helpful: perhaps try yoga, running or a cardio class at the University Center. Or maybe all you need is to catch up the summer season of Pretty Little Liars.

7. Be flexible.
Not everything will go exactly as planned. Sometimes, classes run late or writing that paper took more time than you expected. Don’t get stressed by last minute appointments or meetings. Leave a little room in your calendar to adjust for the unexpected. And if things do go smoothly, use that time for yourself.

6. Plan ahead.
Don’t be the procrastinator studying for the Organic Chem test the night before. You’ll end up way more stressed than you should have been! Instead, make sure you block off time for studying, especially for more difficult classes. Prioritize what you need to do, and when it comes to academics, avoid cutting corners.

5. Learn to say no.
You cannot possibly do everything all the time. It’s ok to skip out on dinner with friends if that’s the only time you have to do laundry. Learning to say no instead of agreeing and committing to a long list of things is so important when it comes to time management.

4. Keep your health in check.
This means eating all the right foods and not drinking coffee and Red Bull to get you through all-nighters. Make sure to eat well-balanced meals packed with protein and valuable nutrients—think fruits and veggies. Exercise also releases endorphins that make you happier and can help you relax. Also, make sure you make time for sleep. It won’t do you any good if you fall asleep in classes!

3. Make goals.
Ask yourself what is important to you. Do you want to dedicate more time to your sorority? Is making Dean’s List a top priority? Whether your goals are personal, professional or academic, make time to see them through. Not only will you feel accomplished, but this will also give you the motivation to push through tougher times.

2. Know yourself.
Are you a morning or a night person? When do you study best? Plan your schedule around your performance levels.

1. Don’t stress.
This is key to time management. If you spend a majority of your time worrying about time, nothing will get done. Instead, know that you have planned ahead and that you have time to get all of your things done.

Freshmen: we all know how overwhelming school can be. College has so many new aspects: dorm life, making friends, adjusting to classes, joining clubs and trying to make Carnegie Mellon and Pittsburgh your new home. Just know that there are plenty of resources to help you. You aren’t alone in your stresses: every freshman goes through them. Remember to stay on top of your academics, and if you need help, there are multiple resources. If things get too stressful, ask student health about counseling services and other resources. Your advisor is always ready to lend a hand when it comes to academics, and your RA is a great source for information about the inner workings of campus. So, dive in to Carnegie Mellon and experience all it has to offer!


Soniya Shah is an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University studying technical writing and pre-med.
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