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Time Management Skills That I Had To Learn the Hard Way

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Virginia Tech chapter.

I’ll be honest, when I started college, I had the time management skills of a breadstick. I was constantly feeling overwhelmed about the number of things I had to do, getting them done at the last minute, and overall just feeling run-down. It’s taken me two years, but here are some of the tips that I wish I had learned at the beginning of my college career, as they could have saved me a whole lot of trouble.

Put the Phone down — seriously

It sounds harsh, but believe me, as someone who used to believe that every little task completion should result in a 15 minute phone break — which inevitably turned into 20 — taking those breaks wastes so much time. Now, you definitely need to take breaks to preserve your mental health, but maybe evaluate how you actually feel the next time you feel the urge to reach for your phone.

start multitasking

Now, I don’t mean trying to complete eight things at once, because all that leads to is eight poorly done things. But, you have to consider those 30 minute breaks after you shower when you’re sitting on the edge of your bed in a towel, or the mindless phone scrolling that goes on while you’re waiting for your food to be ready. Your class ends early? Write that paper. Waiting for your friend to show up at the dining hall? Check your email. Finished with your lunch and looking for a show to watch? Do the reading. If you really look for them, there are lots of little places throughout your day where you can make time. You would be surprised how much of a weight it can take off of you to complete little things during your day.

get busy

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” This old adage never really made sense to me until this year. I remember my freshman year when I was hardly involved in anything with my easiest class load ever; I always felt like I never had enough time to get things done. Well, I did have enough time, I just wasn’t using it correctly.

The truth is that once you start to add more things to your schedule, it forces you to compartmentalize in ways that you didn’t realize you were capable of. So, if you want to join that organization or club, but you’re not sure if you have time, try it out. Figure out how it fits into your life as you go, and you might surprise yourself.

Separate your day

I like to think of school like a job, like a nine to five in a sense. You get up, you go to classes throughout the day — with spaces in between, which is important to remember — and then you get home and can relax. Except in the life of a student, getting out of class just means that you have to go home and do homework. I’ve found that working on assignments throughout the day during those spaces in my classes greatly lessens the work I have to do later.

Also, if you’re done with class super early, go somewhere to study. Find a little nook in that building of your last class, go to the library, go to a friend’s house — well, maybe not that one — and crank out your work in a space that is conducive to it. Because after a long day, trying to do work in your bed is a terrible, terrible idea. If you can, try and separate your day into when you do homework and classes, and then pick a certain time, that could be 5 p.m., 8 p.m. or whenever, so that you try and get all your work done before then, and then you can relax. Having that goal to aim for throughout the day really increases productivity, plus when you finally hit that time, the relief is a feeling like any other.

While I am certainly not an authority on how to properly manage time, the difference between my skills freshman year and now my junior year is astounding. They have helped me be less stressed, be able to participate in more organizations, and actually increase the time I have to fully relax. I hope the few tips I provided can help you in the same way.

Loralee Hoffer

Virginia Tech '23

Loralee Hoffer is a senior at Virginia Tech majoring in Psychology with minors in Creative Writing and Adaptive Brain and Behavior. Through her writing, she enjoys sharing her experiences with health and wellness, relationships, body positivity, and campus life. Proud to be a part of the Her Campus team, she hopes to empower women and gain valuable experience, education, and friends along the way.