The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
It is that time of the semester where work is piling up as heavily as autumn leaves (but very few, since we live in Texas). As someone adjusting to college academics and involved in multiple campus organizations, productivity advice has been my friend throughout the first few months of college. Many people see productivity as a buzzword, something that is only possible when one has their room clean and their laundry done. However, time management is doable with these seven tips!
I’ve always wanted to get tips that go beyond the usual “keep a planner” or “prioritize” mostly because the latter is easier said than done! Here are 7 tips from my peers and professors.
- Take Advantage of Downtime:
One of the downsides of taking any class is that there will always be assignments that take little time and energy but are super tedious. These “five minute tasks” are the biggest victims of procrastination and can pile up a lot if you’re not careful. A tip that I learned from one of my professors is to take advantage of “wait times” i.e. waiting for class to start, waiting for your friend to meet you for lunch or waiting for the bus. Use these small intervals to work on the tasks that don’t take up much of your time or mental space. For example, I like checking my emails while waiting for the bus to my morning class or doing Quizlets on my phone while waiting in line for food. This can minimize procrastination and help you check off your to-do list.
- Saving Wasted Days
During the first month of college, I decided to try and become a morning person. I would push tasks to the morning and decide the night before that I would wake up at 5:00 AM and get everything done. And that pretty much never happened. I’d roll out of bed at 10:00 and proceed to not be productive because I felt demotivated. But it’s still possible to do everything you need to despite waking up later! The trick that I learned is that if you wake up late (or even if you wake up early), turn little things into to-do list items. For instance, whenever I make my bed in the morning, I end up feeling motivated.
That sets off a chain for me: now that I’ve done one thing, I’ve set my mind to do others. Additionally, a good way to save a wasted day is to exercise! Exercise can stimulate endorphins that make you more likely to have a positive attitude about your day.
- The Five-Minute Rule:
According to Psychology Today, procrastination is closely linked to anxiety, which may make it difficult to start on a large-scale task. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it can be hard for me to commit to starting something, so I use the “five minute rule”. If you’re scared of starting something because you don’t know how to do it or it’s extremely time-consuming, set a timer. Work on the task for five minutes (or however long it takes you to get in “the flow” ) and once the time runs out, you’ll likely have gotten into a desire to finish the task. This trick usually works the best for my writing assignments; as a liberal arts major, I have quite a lot and can never seem to overcome the terror of a blank page.
4. Take the Shortcut.
Taking notes used to take me hours in high school, but in college, the volume of reading-based assignments is too much to carve out time to individually take notes on each chapter. Usually, when I’m studying, I turn my notes into quizlets, so nowadays, I completely skip the act of taking handwritten notes and instead put the key concepts from my textbook into a quizlet. While many people learn best when they write notes, I’ve found that making the quizlet as I read the book helps me retain the info right before class. As mentioned in the 2nd time management tip, downtime before class is enough time to review those terms so you can focus on what your professor is actually saying.
It would be amazing if I could take detailed notes on every topic covered in a course, but sometimes it’s just not practical to do so. And realizing this took me a while because it had been ingrained in me to study for hours and study hard. What is more important, though, is that you take shortcuts when needed!
Overall, it is important that college is a time for you to become a more disciplined person-but also someone who applies that discipline to take care of themselves. Whether you’re taking 9 hours or 16, in three organizations or none, make sure that at least one day is a reset day. Nothing can replace mental health, and everyone who manages their time knows that all too well (Taylor Swift pun intended).