You’ve finally made it to college and you’re a few weeks into classes. Next up is mid-terms and your first real tests at a college level. Maybe you’re a rock star student, maybe you’re in the library day and night, but either way how you manage your time and stress is crucial.
Many students have a hard time with this because unlike high school, college schedules can be erratic and it is easy to get distracted by all the various campus activities. So to help you avoid falling behind during your first term, we’ve compiled a few stress and time management tips to help you stay on top of your game.
It may sound simple or juvenile, but catching a quick 20 minute power nap between classes is an easy way to get your mind in the right place. It’s also a great alternative to knocking back an energy drink or another cup of coffee which will only leave you tired again in a few hours.
When things get busy, your diet is usually the first thing to fall by the way side. Grabbing a quick burger or going without a meal may seem like an easy way to save time, but it will catch up to you. Eating regular, well rounded meals consistently will keep your body and metabolism on a regular schedule and ultimately give you more energy.
It’s hard enough to work out when you have the time, let alone when you are slammed with homework and study groups, but getting some form of exercise every day will help you tremendously. Not only does it release endorphins which lift your mood, it will also help you release a lot of the pent up nervous energy,, causing stress.
Going to parties is a regular part of college, but that shouldn’t be your only fun activity. Scheduling something fun on a daily basis is a great way to break up your work and stay motivated. Playing pick-up games at the gym, a few quick Halo games with your floor mates or even just setting down the text book and picking up a novel are great ways to break the monotony of school work without switching gears completely.
With so much going on at college and so little structure, it can be hard to keep all the balls in the air at once. Finding a system that works for you is a trial and error method, but once you find one it will save you. Maybe you are all digital and have a detailed Google Calendar that knows every minute of your day. You might go analog with a notebook and a pen, or maybe you’ve got a wall full of color coded post-it notes. Whatever system helps you keep track of everything, stick to it.
You might be one of those academic gods who never need to study, but in case you’re like the rest of us, the first thing is to find a place to study. Be it the library, coffee shop or your dorm basement, having a place that is just about studying will help you stay focused to the task. Then, schedule time for studying and eliminate distractions like Facebook and your phone to help you make the most of your time. Lastly, make your study schedule consistent by dedicating the same window in your day to studying.
Keeping a regular sleep schedule is very difficult in college, but is the foundation of everything you do day-to-day. Sleep usually comes last on a long list of things you need to do, but having the forethought to plan out a ‘hard shut-off’ at the same time each day will allow your body to adjust, resulting in more energy. Remember, extra caffeine in the morning is never a replacement for hours of sleep lost and those hours will catch up with you eventually, they always do.
Just like high school, college is full of homework and term papers. Also like high school, planning out the time to work on these projects, and doing so in advance of the due date is crucial. Homework ‘binges’ are all too common place in college, and do little to produce good work and only create more stress. Instead, of biting off a whole side of beef, break each task down into smaller, bite sized portions. Then plan out when you will attack each portion so that you have enough time to review your work and turn it in on-time and with confidence. Also keep in mind that college classes typically do not have daily or even weekly assignments, and in some you may only turn in a couple papers to base your grade off of. With these types of classes it is even more important that you start assignments in advance. Set reminder to let you know when you need to put a task on your radar, even if it’s a few weeks in advance.
Remember, you may not be able to control how hectic or crazy your college schedule and classes are, but you can control how you deal with the stress. Don’t underestimate your workload or overestimate your abilities, it is always better to finish with time to spare then to be rushing at the last minute. In the end it’s really all about staying on top of things. Every time you put something off, be it a paper, a meal, sleep, exercise, it will catch up with you in some way. So show your stress who’s boss and make your time work hard for you.