College can be rough with managing a busy schedule. As college students, we are always so busy, balancing school with work with trying to get eight hours of sleep with going to the gym with other activities, such as club meetings and internships. And now, as a graduating senior, figuring out what the future is going to hold. And I assume that life is always busy, especially after college working full time. Personally, I enjoy being busy! But sometimes, it can be a lot to handle. This semester, I’m taking a three classes, I’m a teaching assistant for a course, I have two jobs on campus (one being a student assistant for the study abroad office and one being a psychology tutor for athletics), I intern for Red Watch Band as well as being an active member on the Care Team, I’m a research assistant for a lab in the psychology department, and I’m President of the Club Field Hockey Team. It can be a lot, so how do I manage my busy schedule?
1) My Planner.
This thing is a God send. If it’s not written in my planner, I most likely won’t do it or won’t be there. I carry this thing with me everywhere and it has been the most helpful resource in my four years of college to keep track of everything. Because of my planner, I still sleep at least seven hours a night usually, go to the gym everyday, and have a social life! It keeps me SO organized. I would probably be lost without it and could not recommend more getting on board with a planner the first thing you do if you’re struggling with managing a busy schedule.
2) To-Do Lists.
I use these the most over the weekend. Over the weekend when I want to try to utilize free time and be productive, making to-do lists are really helpful. Sometimes I even write things like “go to the gym” or”cook dinner” or “write in journal” so I get other things done I want to do that doesn’t have to do with sending emails and doing homework. It feels good to cross something off a list and it keeps me on top of maxing my time so then I can enjoy my free time further.
3) Taking Time for Myself.
I cannot stress the importance of this more. I would not be able to manage my busy schedule whatsoever if it wasn’t for taking time for myself. I make sure to go to the gym at least five days a week and I make sure to get enough sleep every night (if you know me, you know how much I need my sleep). I also make sure to feed myself properly and nurture my body so I can get through a 12 hour day. It’s SO incredibly important to care for yourself, especially if you’re busy! It makes everything much more manageable.
4) Time Management.
Manage your time wisely. If you need to, break down your day hourly to start. Write down that from 9am-10:20am you’re in class, and then 10:30am-12:30pm you’re studying, 12:30pm-1pm you’re eating lunch, and at 1pm you’re back at class again. If you manage your time wisely, you can be more productive and get more done in your day.
5) Doing Things in Advance and Not Procrastinating!
This is a big one. Don’t procrastinate! Do things in advance! This past weekend, I wrote a paper that was due in a week and a half because I had the time to do it so why not start it? I didn’t have much other homework to do. Now, I can focus on other things I have to and enjoy more free time and relax during the week!
Prep! Whether it comes to meals or getting your bag ready the night before, this will really help you. Every night after dinner, I pack my lunch for the next day and every night before bed, I pack my backpack with everything I need and gym clothes. It makes my mornings a lot smoother prepping for the following day at night when I have more time and am not a sleepy head.
7) Winding Down Early.
I think this is really important too. I’m not a night person (or a morning person, really) so I always try to wind down on the early side to have time to relax for my mental health. I have never been one of those college students that starts their homework at 10pm and stays up half the night. When I wind down early, I can spend time with my friends, write in my journal, watch a tv show, or read before bed during the week and just chill out.
Communication with my employers and professors helps managing my schedule because it keeps them in the loop about my availability. When something comes up, I communicate with them about it as far as I can in advance. For example, I’m missing four days of school for Spring break plans and I communicated with everyone about it far enough in advance that it wasn’t a problem. It helps when everyone is on the same page.
9) Google Calendar.
This is somewhat newer to me, but I love it so far! Keeping track of my schedule in my Google calendar and getting reminders helps me stay on top of things. I even pencil in gym times and social plans. It definitely has helped me manage my schedule, but I’m still big on the planner and physically writing things down a little more so than the Google calendar. I do really like it though and it’s nice getting reminders to my phone!
Prioritize what’s the most important or the biggest deadline. This way, you can stay on top of what’s pressing and not fall behind. Also, prioritize yourself and your mental health always.
Bonus: BREATHE! Whether you’re busy because you’re a college student like me, or because you’re working full time, or because you’re a parent, just remember to breathe. It always helps to just sit down and breathe for a minute. Everything will be okay and you can manage, but it’s also okay to realize you can’t manage it all. As humans, we can’t do everything. Take care of yourself first, always.