Time Management: Commuter Edition

Ah, time management. The bane of every college student's existence. You decide to wake up early and head to the gym, and completely forget that you have two essays due at noon, a meeting at work and a quiz to study for.

It’s overwhelming, and can make us more stressed than before.

Now...add in a 20, 35, 60-minute commute on top of that, which means planning is ten times more important in your daily life.

This is why I decided to write down this handy-dandy guide, because you'll look like this while driving otherwise:

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Write Everything Down.

Bullet journal. Get an agenda. Use a tracking app. Set reminders on your phone. Anything to help you keep track of your homework, appointments, deadlines. You're bound to forget something at some point, so by getting into a routine of tracking everything, you'll know if you forget something.

Communication is Key

Communicate with your professors, because you may, on some occasions, have to sneak into class a few minutes late because of traffic or you might not be able to attend a class because the roads are bad. Chances are, they have a commute too. They won’t judge you...hopefully...maybe a little bit.

Make a List the Night Before.

Make a list of your day, week, month. Sure, it’s similar to a journal, but sometimes writing down simple goals like “shower” and “call sister” and “do dishes” might actually get done in a somewhat timely manner.

Take Online Classes if You Can

I don't know about you, but I've never been able to take a full five-course load a semester (I mean, I have others reasons, but anyways…). I highly suggest looking into an online course offered at Siena, or one through your hometown community college.

Choice of When and Where to Study

Now let me explain this one. You can easily study at home or at your local library, and not have to worry about a roommate barging in at 1 a.m. for a beer pong session. It's a win for you...unless you really want to play beer pong. 

Don't Take 8 a.m. Classes...Just Don't

I feel like this is a given, but I'll explain anyway. 8 a.m. classes are the bane of every college student, and if you toss in morning rush hour on top of that? Oi vey, you're going to be late for class many, many times. 

Classes in the mid-morning and early afternoon (sometimes evenings too) are usually ideal for commuter students. We can wedge in a commute and maybe our part-time job in the mornings and evenings, and then use the mid-afternoon for classes and homework.

If You Can Carpool or Use Public Transit - Do it!

You might meet someone new on campus who happens to live close by to you - with some asking, they might be willing to carpool. (Of course, you have to work out gas money and schedules, but that's between you two).

Public transit often runs around colleges, and are a cheap way to travel to and from class. Of course, you have to watch schedules and be prepared for delays, but you can read assignments or listen to a podcast, so it's really a win.

Carry Spare Change - Always

I can't tell you how many times I've dug around in my bag and then realized I forgot my lunch, dinner, snacks, etc. It's absolutely, positively horrible. (Okay, I'm exaggerating but still - it's not fun.)

My solution is to keep a bunch of dimes and nickels (and maybe those pesky dollar coins) in my car in case of emergency. It doesn't take up much space and saves you from having to ask a friend to spot you some cash for a super expensive dining hall meal.

You'll Have More Friends...Eventually

Being a commuter student can be pretty isolating. You're on campus for class, then you usually leave for home or a part-time job when you're done. Depending on your schedule and your personality type, joining intramural sports, clubs, study groups, etc., can be a great way to become closer to your classmates.

Then, when you leave campus, you can spend time with your hometown friends as well.

Or - and I've done this a few times - invite everyone over for dinner or a giant study group. You probably won't get any work done, but it's still super fun!

If You Can, Buy the Kindle Version of Textbooks and Novels

Sometimes, when you have four classes in one day and giant textbooks, you don't really want to carry around novels too. If a professor has an online version available, and you can use a laptop/kindle in class - do it. Often it's cheaper to purchase materials this way - and sometimes there's text to speech options, which is handy if you want to listen to assigned readings on your commute home.

Stay safe, my fellow commuters.

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