If there is one thing that every student struggles with, it’s time management. Oftentimes, I look at scheduling like I look at cooking a holiday dinner — I get overexcited about certain things, load up on so many things that people express worry, then finally get overwhelmed later on when I find out that I really did take on too much.
That being said, you can learn how to be better at managing your time (shocking, right?). It just takes a bit of time and a lot of discipline. Winter break is the perfect time to work on those skills (because let’s admit it, you’re probably just going to be watching The Christmas Prince on Netflix for the twelfth time this season. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
The strategies are fairly straightforward (two of them could be considered common sense), but these are three ways to improve your time management skills before the next semester starts.
1. Sit down and actually schedule things out
Whether you’re a visual person and just want to see how busy you are, or you’re the type that needs to be held accountable in some way (or both), there’s a reason why the most common advice on any time management article is to actually take the time to schedule things out.
“Isn’t sitting down to write how I’m going to spend my time a waste of time?” You may ask, and my answer will always be, “With that attitude, yes.” In practice though, it’s definitely to your benefit to write things down and to plot them out.
For one thing, writing down your schedule helps your memory and keeps you from missing (or avoiding) deadlines altogether. For another, there is nothing that screams ‘adult’ more like having a well-managed schedule, whether you bullet journal or keep it all on Google.
2. Schedule time for yourself and learn to say no
While you’re still scheduling, be sure to take care to note the gaps of time in your schedule. However, instead of filling in those gaps with extra responsibilities (just because you can), fill them in with “appointments with yourself.”
As with all things, too much can be terrible. Overloading your schedule is just a quick way to start slipping down a spiral to burnout. By literally scheduling time with yourself, you are holding yourself accountable for your self-care and therefore, your overall health.
Something else that plays into it? Learning how to say no. Again, just because you can say yes to doing something and increasing your workload doesn’t mean you have to or that you should. There is no shame in saying that you can’t, and you never have to explain yourself as long as your motives are benefiting you.
3. Ask for Help
Depending who you are, this may be the hardest thing to keep in mind with time management, but it’s the most important. If there comes a moment (or day, or week, or month) where you can’t handle everything on your schedule, let people know!
Most bosses would rather have you come to them about your struggles beforehand rather than to see the results of your stress. The same goes for professors and anyone else you may feel like you’re disappointing by not balancing everything just so.
Even if they can’t lessen the strain and stress of your schedule, depending on who they are, they can show you understanding, which is sometimes all you need.
What do you think?
What are some things that will be keeping you busy this next semester? How do you manage your time effectively — and what tips can you share with the rest of us? Let us know in the comments!