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Point Blank Advice From Our Psych Major: Time Management

Dear Jessica,

I have NO idea how to manage my time, and I’m freaking out! What should I do?

Sincerely,

Freaked Out, a Freshman at UO

Dear Freaked Out,

Let’s be honest… most of us face the great debate over whether we should study or watch Game of Thrones (or Mad Men, or Pretty Little Liars, or reruns of One Tree Hill… take your pick) on a nearly daily basis. And then there’s Pinterest. Bottom line is, you aren’t alone, because I’m right there with you and I’m sure many others are too!

Since I personally have a HUGE issue with time management (my roommate would back me up on this one, but I doubt you speak dog), offering advice in that realm makes me feel a little hypocritical. But I think we all shirk our own advice more frequently than we’d like to admit! For starters, you should poke around our site. Since it’s written by college students for college students, you’ll probably find TONS of articles about time management if you search our hashtags. Nevertheless, my job is to write an advice column, and write one I shall. Here are a few time management tips that I feel would be useful to me if I actually had enough self discipline to follow through with them:

Write out your entire schedule. A few days ago, I was helping my boyfriend decide whether or not he should get another job. I was initially vehemently against it, freaking out over the fact that he’d be “burning the candle at both ends” and never have time for himself if he tried to juggle a 50 hour work week and 12 credits at school. He whipped out a piece of paper and wrote down his current schedule. It didn’t look so bad. Then, he wrote in hypothetical hours for his potential new job. He still had plenty of free time. What I learned from his demonstration is that what might feel overwhelming while tangled up in your head might look much less daunting when you spell it out for yourself on a piece of paper. If you write out your schedule, you’ll be able to see exactly when you have free time, and you can factor in your responsibilities (like homework) accordingly.

Make lists. Write an actual “To-Do” list – or as I like to call mine, a “Git-R-Done” list. Hold yourself to it. If you want to get especially creative and really challenge yourself, you can do what a friend of mine does: she makes an easy list and a hard list. She must complete one item from the “hard” list before she allows herself to move on to an easier task, and then alternates between the two lists until she’s finished with everything.

For the love of God, DON’T PROCRASTINATE! If there was anything that I could change about myself, it would be my horrible, terrible, no-good tendency to procrastinate. It’s just so easy to say, “I’ll do it later. It won’t be that bad.” But the thing is, it usually is that bad, and I find myself staring at a blank Word document the night before a paper is due wondering why on earth I thought it was a good idea to wait until then to do my homework. If you’ve got it in you, try your absolute hardest to exercise good time management skills by breaking your assignments up into chunks. Write one page of your paper per day over a four day period and add the finishing touches the night before it’s due. I did that once – it reduced my stress level and made me feel extremely studious and proud!  

I feel like the bummer about time management is that it tends to be one of those “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink” concepts. I think that deep down we all know how to manage our time best, but we choose not to. I hope that these pointers are helpful to you, but I feel like they’ll only be as helpful as you want them to be! Give them a shot and see how beneficial time management can be in terms of stress reduction. I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

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