Time Managing for the Busy Go-Getter: A Survival Guide

College is a huge change in anyone’s life. From beginning to living on your own to grocery shopping for yourself, it’s an exciting period of new beginnings. But with those new beginnings, come some challenges of their own. Some days feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and if you let one thing slip, the world will come crashing down with it. However, this is far from the case. You are a powerful and strong human being. Take a step back, and begin to look at your life with a new light. Here are some tricks I have picked up along the way to better help strategize your time.


people sitting in chairs and taking notes The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash

1. Write out everything

Literally write out everything. Your schedule for the month, week, and day. Your “To-Do List.” Your thoughts and feelings about the day. Whatever it may be, allow your brain to breathe by writing out everything absorbed in that powerhouse of a brain! As well, check things off as you go. You will feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction of what you can complete when you put your mind to it. This isn’t much of a surprise either that you feel this way, it’s been proven that writing is therapeutic! According to Elizabeth Sullivan, “...writing can be beneficial for all of us because it can be therapeutic. One of the most powerful parts of therapy is cultivating the ability to observe our thoughts and feelings.”


Scrabble tiles spell out Pexels 2. Allow yourself to only focus on one obstacle at a time

You have probably heard the overused quote, “Rome wasn’t built in a day!” However redundant that phrase may be, there is a strong truth underlying there. You cannot tackle all of your problems and obstacles in one sitting. Allow yourself with each day to put your focus and energy on one sole task at hand. Whether it be an exam, a job promotion, dating, a rehearsal, a speech, etc. Make that your only challenge for the day, and then move onto your next day with another task at hand. Even if you don’t accomplish it in a day, allow yourself extra time to get what you need to be done! You cannot put such a ridiculous standard on yourself to be a perfectionist at everything you do and to get it right every single time. You’re human! You wouldn’t hold such an insane standard on someone else, so why do you do it to yourself?


pile of overlapping antique clocks of different sizes Jon Tyson on Unsplash 3. Prioritize your free time

Your free time is your peace period. It’s your time to decompress and allow your mind to wander from all of the worries and stress you clutch onto. Prioritize that time! Even if it means you need to write it in your schedule of your day, make it a part of your day and I promise you it will only benefit you. You need to allow your brain to take a breath and recollect to start again. You don’t want to burn yourself out. Recharge when needed!


man and woman sitting on a bench Alex Holyoake | Unsplash 4. Surround yourself with loving people

Be around like-minded people like you. Those who will love you unconditionally and are supportive will want to see you succeed. They are there to help, allow them to help you along your journey. Even if they aren’t at a physical arm's length in a room, give them a call or text. Sometimes we all get so caught up in our own lives that we may not realize what is happening in our friends’ lives. Be around those who matter and make you feel like you matter. Check-in with your loved ones and they will do the same for you.


Here are some words of encouragement from how loving people I know manage their time:


Amanda Woll from East Stroudsburg: “I try to keep everything written down in my planner and then I have a big calendar in my room that I put important things like exams and clinical days. I also have a rule where I have to get stuff done by 11-12ish I will not stay up late todo things bc it stresses me out so giving myself that rule makes me start things earlier in the day. I think having a general routine is good too like I try to eat dinner do yoga around the same every night. Having certain days for things is also helpful like a cleaning and laundry day. And a meal prep/ cooking day.”


Bridget Dombrowski from Widener University: “Time management in college is crucial for success.  From someone who is highly involved in extracurricular activities, working a part-time job and a full-time student, I plan out my week and singular days.  Some days I go to class to meetings to a small break then another meeting.  To stay organized, I use a notebook calendar and sticky notes.  My whole life is laid out on those pieces of paper and they have become my best friends.  For me, writing things out helps me figure out what I need to do and helps me stay on track.  Staying organized and planning will help you stay on track and not forget assignments or events.  Amid a busy day, try to set aside time for self-care.  Self-care is very important because it will help relieve stress and allow you to simply enjoy the moments when I have an hour break, I like to go to the gym, grab a coffee and watch a show on Netflix, or shower and do a face mask.  Time management takes time to find what best works for you. But once you put it into practice, it will become routine!”


Erin Lalli, President of HC Pitt, University of Pittsburgh: I definitely have my fair share of procrastination this semester (via parks and rec lol.) BUT when I am productive, here’s how I go about it: I have a planner that outlines important dates like all of my exams, lab reports, weekly quizzes for school and then club meetings and events (all in dif colors) to keep myself organized and have an overall idea of what my semester is looking like. A tool that is a BIG helper is surprisingly my Notes app. I use that to keep a running weekly schedule where I write down tasks that I need to accomplish under each day. The thing I like about Notes is that if something pops into my head and I don’t have my planner on me, it’s easy to write it down in my phone. Also, it gives me the freedom to shuffle things around if other priorities pop up ~ so it doesn’t look like a scribbled mess lol. I try to prioritize by the deadline and try to keep myself from doing the assignment the day before it is due if I can so that I’m ahead and that way I can focus on studying when the midterm season comes around. It’s super important to squeeze in time for your brain to chill so I’ll try to watch Netflix or do something mindless when I eat a meal - multitasking at its finest. Also studying with friends in your classes can help you bang out assignments and make it more enjoyable. I recommend working out the first thing in the morning. I know I won’t get work done early before my classes so it’s a great way to get started. I recommend taking an exercise class so it forces you to go. Then you have your afternoon and nights to focus on schoolwork without feeling guilty about working out. It’s important to have the balance between getting your work done and having fun, so for me personally, I try to get as much done as I can during the week so that the weekend can be more enjoyable. And while stresses can come up with clubs and things of that nature, remember that your main priority is to get your degree and feel that you have a strong foundation in your field of interest, so take advantage of the team structure in your organization to divide and conquer tasks to minimize your extracurricular work when needed.”


Rachel Stoll from West Chester University: “I have every hour of the day planned out. I wake up, study at the lib, go to class and then go to work or rehearsal. By the time I get home, I make sure I do something to take care of myself. Whether it is to make an easy dinner or watch a show. Just something so I don’t get burned out. Then, when I have a day off, I’ll literally take the entire day to myself and try not to think about anything else I have going on.”


Erica Luongo from Penn State University:  “I always make sure I write down what I need to do (with due dates) and list them by priority. I start assignments as soon as I get them, even if it is just doing a little bit of it so that I have an idea of how much work I have left to do for that assignment. I also make sure to add in time to just relax, whether that is going to a club event or hanging out with friends.”


woman reading a book on a couch in a library Via Seven Shooter on Unsplash

5. Remind yourself, this isn’t a “forever” situation

Like my mother has always said to me, "your life is going to be constantly changing." It is inevitable and inescapable. But that isn’t a bad thing, ride that wave! In fact, be excited about new things to come. You seriously never know what great thing is around the corner. If you are going through a rough period of time right now, it’s okay. Allow yourself time to express your pain, gather yourself, and find ways to take new steps forward. This is not a “forever” situation. Things will change, you didn’t expect yourself to be where you are now, did you?! Well, I can guarantee you will feel this same exact way in the future. My mother has always told me, “Will this matter in five years' time? Two years? If the answer is “no” to both, then don’t allow it to matter and take hold of you now!”


Pexels 6. You are going to overcome this!!

You are a fierce and strong force to be reckoned with. You have surpassed all of your challenges that you never thought you would see the light on the other side. And look at you now! You’ve got this, and you can handle whatever will come your way. One wise person told me that “you find out you are stronger than you realize when you are forced to be strong.”


Now, go kick some booty and take names today.


You got this.