Wednesday, October 26, 2011

For When You Only Have One Sock Left...........

If you're anything like me, you experience that one week (or two, or three) every semester when everything seems to pile up into one big mess of responsibilities. The dishes are piling up in the sink, you're drowning in laundry, there are about 75 papers due, there's an exam every day, and Netflix is just calling your name. The 24 hours in a day don't seem like nearly enough time to get everything accomplished, and it can be very overwhelming. Luckily, there are some great strategies you can use to ensure that you are managing your time effectively. Time management is an invaluable tool that is worth learning during your college experience.

The most important thing to do in time management is to organize your responsibilities into categories. Placing everything you need to do into smaller chunks has the effect of making it seem as if you have less to do, thereby making your tasks less intimidating. I like to organize everything into these categories: School, Home, and Free Time. Put all homework, papers, and projects into the School section; laundry, dishes, and other cleaning under Home, and any fun down-time activities into Free Time.

The next step to take to improve your time management is to lay out all of your tasks in an obvious, easily accessible place. This ensures that you are fully aware of everything that must be done; it also prevents you from forgetting some tasks that may initially fly under the radar. One place that I find particularly useful to remind me is somewhere I see all of the time: my computer's desktop. Most computers have these nifty virtual Post-It notes, which can be displayed on your desktop. Think about how many times you open your computer to get on Facebook, watch Youtube videos, or use your other favorite form of procrastination (Stumble-Upon, I'm looking at you). These Post-It notes are in a very visible place that is, in fact, probably one of the primary time-wasting tools that you utilize.

Next, plan out a schedule to make sure that you are not overwhelmed with everything you must do. It is unrealistic to assume that everything can be accomplished in one day, so spacing responsibilities apart is key. A possibility is placing 5 virtual Post-It notes, one for each weekday, on your desktop. As you complete each task, delete the Post-It. It is a very satisfying feeling to see it drift away.

Finally, make sure you plan out free time for yourself. The stress from all your responsibilities can be very detrimental, and it is very important to not overload yourself with constant stress. Whether it is exercising, reading a book, or simply taking a nap, down time is essential for keeping your spirits high and your motivation strong. Plus, who doesn't love a good nap? The key to this step is to not give too much free time, which is very tempting. Make sure that all your responsibilities are accomplished for that day before you drift into dreamland.

These time management techniques are definitely essential tools in college students' repertoires. Follow these, and your life will be much less stressful. Also, do your dishes; they aren't getting any cleaner

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