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Maybe your fall semester was fantastic, or maybe it sucked. As any college student knows, anything can happen, but starting out on a good path will lessen the chances of your life falling apart. By this point, you have finalized your class schedule, secured a job and chosen the extra-curriculars you want to put your effort into. Here are some tips to manage it all and keep your mental health out of the danger zone.

Set a weekly schedule

Yes, your classes fall on the same days and times each week, but you should also set aside designated weekly time for certain necessities, so you don’t keep running out of time and forgetting. For example, food shopping and laundry are done each week. Pick a day and time that can consistently work for those activities and try to stick to it. Some other things to work into your repeating schedule are workouts, club meetings, specific study time and time for meeting with friends. You will eventually fall into a pattern without even noticing you have developed a new habit. It feels really nice not to run out of clean leggings or food for dinner.

Keep a color-coded calendar

I use Google Calendar religiously. I can access it on my phone, computer and any other device with the internet. I am extremely busy, so I rely heavily on my calendar to tell me what is coming up that day. I have separate colors for classes, my sorority, Her Campus, yoga and chores. I write my homework in a planner, but everything else goes into my Google Calendar as soon as I find out about it. Here is an example of a typical week for me:

Photo by author

Set up a place for both digital and printed documents

This is super important. It is really easy to lose track of things that may be important later on. On your computer, make a folder for each class you are taking. For physical handouts and papers you may print, I recommend having a file folder with a compartment for each class and one extra section for additional and miscellaneous documents you do not want to misplace. I have been using a file folder for about four years, and it never fails me.

Don’t let yourself drown in emails

We all have both school and personal emails. Take the time to unsubscribe from useless email lists that clog your inbox. It takes 5 seconds and will save you a lot of headaches in the future. Get in the habit of checking your university email twice a day, so you never miss a message from a professor or organization you are in. I cannot tell you the number of sign-ups I have missed for my sorority because I was not checking my email. It is super important to pay attention to the people contacting you.

Set aside days to do nothing

Everyone is stressed and overworked; that is college. Give yourself a break every once and a while. Lay in bed, catch up on The Bachelor and get brunch with your friends. It is really easy to get burnt out. I was last weekend, and it was horrible. (I cried. A lot.) Get all your school stuff done then be a vegetable. Your mom isn’t there to tell you to stop being lazy, so do it. Relaxing with nothing left on your to-do list is one of the greatest feelings in the world. Make sure you feel it every once and a while.

Do your school work. Just do it.

Please do your assignments. Please. It can be so easy to not hand in an essay in a 150-person lecture, but it will haunt you for months. At least it should. If you keep track of your schedule and keep an updated calendar, there is no excuse for not having enough time. If you honestly do not have time to get your work done, then you have taken on way too much and need to quit something. Keeping up with your work will allow you to get better grades, and you will not be as stressed. It sucks to miss your favorite show or a night out writing an essay, but you have to do it. Everything is so much more enjoyable when you don’t have undone assignments in the back of your mind.

I hope at least some of this was helpful. Good luck this spring semester and hang in there until spring break!

Emily is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in Architecture and Studio Arts. She is on HC Pitt's executive board as the social media director.
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