Pulling an all-nighter and cramming for tests, spending endless hours in the library, trying to reach the minimum word count requirement for an essay assignment, going heavy on coffee and energy drinks to survive the exams week… This is basically what all freshmen go through.
But does it have to be this way?
The reasons behind these stressful student days might surprise you. They can be summed up to the lack of one crucially important life skill: time management. Luckily, it’s not too late to get in the hang of it.
Planning is the Key
Taking mental notes is not effective as you don’t have a clear perspective of the time passing, nor does it make you commit to actually finish your set tasks. A study conducted by the Dominican University says you’re more likely to achieve your goals by writing them down. Writing truly helps you rationalize the way you spend your time and it ensures you stay organized. Start by noting your daily activities and how much they last. Scrolling through Facebook and Instagram news feed can eat up shocking amounts of hours. Minimize numbing, unproductive daily activities. Keep track of the college tasks you need to complete so you know the exact amount of academic workload you’re dealing with. Use another color to point out deadlines or set a timely reminder on your phone.
Familiarize Yourself With the Assignments
Doing everything last minute may seem like the biggest mistake freshmen make. But, what’s even worse is not even knowing what is expected from you, what study materials you need, or how to finish the assignment. Try familiarizing yourself with textbooks and materials before you start working on your tasks. This way, you’ll arrange your study time more effectively. For example, if you’re supposed to write an essay, get to know the technicalities (number of words, type of font, formatting, the structure), the methodics of writing a paper, as well as available topics and the grading system within the curriculum. Try completing bits of your assignments each day and start from the largest and most complex projects. It will be hard to commit to studying when the deadline isn’t close, but this approach will kick stress out of the equation when finals come knocking at your door.
Kick the Habit of Procrastinating
Did you know that around 70% of U.S. students have troubles with procrastination? According to Dr. Piers Steel who’s an expert on the topic, this might have something to do with the underdeveloped pre-frontal cortex, the center of will power, which reaches its full strength after our twenties. Of course, there isn’t a shortcut to stop procrastinating, but taking baby steps will help you come a long way. You can start by visualizing the feeling of satisfaction and self-proud once you get the task done. Another useful trick includes publicly committing to finishing some task. Tell a friend or share your goals on social media. This is effective as humans are naturally hardwired to care about their reputation, so they don’t want to look lazy or weak in the eyes of others.
Don’t Dig a Hole for Yourself
The minute you step your foot into college, chances are you’ll get swept off your feet by the excitement and enthusiasm that naturally come with entering a new life phase. However, it’s essential not to get carried away. Don’t overbook yourself and enroll in dozens of classes, while volunteering or chasing an internship on the side. Sure, you’ll encounter many intriguing opportunities, but you have to accept you only have 24 hours in a day, and you need to squeeze in socializing and resting somewhere. Prioritizing is something that even middle-aged adults struggle with, but it is necessary to master in order to become more time-sensitive.
Ironically, mastering the art of time management takes time. The main stumbling block is of psychological nature as it lies in the lack of self-discipline. Once you become the master of yourself, you’ll master the time you have on your hands, too.
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