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Freshmen Diaries: Time Management

I can’t believe September is over. But time here is funny, last week feels like a millennium ago, but the beginning of the month seems like yesterday. The adjustment went overall more smoothly than I expected, but there are still a few things that feel still new and different.

Sometimes I pinch myself that I have this much freedom, that I can pretty much be wherever I want to be when I want to be, that I can do whatever I want to whenever I want. Of course, with this newfound freedom comes that actual responsibility of doing work so I can, oh yeah, graduate sometime in the next four years.

I’m one who likes to plan things out and am disciplined about making my way through my to do list, but with this new freedom accompanied with a growing list of tasks, I’ve been trying to understand how to strike the perfect balance between accomplishing what I need to for my classes, getting involved with organizations on campus, and having both planned and spontaneous fun with my friends.

I don’t pretend to know that I have actually struck that balance. In the last month, though, I feel like I’m beginning to grasp how. In order to make time for fun, I’ve been scheduling work as carefully as possible and keeping up with putting things on my calendar so I can always look a couple days, weeks, or even months ahead and schedule my time accordingly.

Another large difference between high school work and the college workload comes in how much more long-term assignments are here. Like in high school, I was rarely asked to have a four hundred book completed by the following week and not given miniature due dates. But now, I’ve had to set those mini deadlines for myself, calculating how many pages I need to read each night, for example.

The other side of the coin, however, is being able to be flexible with my plans. Sometimes I don’t get done what I’ve told myself to, and my first instinct is to beat myself up about it, but the more proactive solution, of course, is to reevaluate why I couldn’t accomplish what I needed to and change my plans accordingly.

Sometimes, though, I have to choose when to be flexible, which is often a hard line to draw. If I’m spontaneously asked to go somewhere with a friend, it’s often hard to turn that opportunity down, even if I’ve scheduled something else for myself. I don’t know how to describe when I let myself and when I don’t let myself take advantage of unplanned opportunities like this, but I’ve found that the more I will myself to take advantage of the time I do have to complete tasks, the less guilty I feel when an opportunity does present itself, as I’ve already accomplished something, at least.

I’ve been told that, if anything, what you learn as an undergraduate is time management, which is quickly turning out to be true. What is your best tip in making the most out of each day?

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