Self-Care Sunday: Time Management

It’s one thing to set aside a chunk of time each weekend to take care of yourself. But if you spend the rest of your week running around panicking because you’re behind on your assignments, you’re not going to feel very relaxed.

To be totally honest, I am writing on this topic because I’ve been having a hard time with time management lately. It’s a problem everyone has. College is a busy time with classes, jobs, extracurricular activities, family time, and a social life — it’s no wonder we struggle to balance it all. Each semester brings a new schedule and adjusting to that schedule can be tough. First off, some basic “rules” about time management:

  1. Everyone is different. For example, I am a morning person — so I’ve been really trying to keep to a schedule of early-to-bed, early-to-rise. Then, I get work done in the morning. My fiancé is a night owl, so he stays up until midnight or so to get work, and sleeps in more. Both of these things are A-OK and equally valid choices!
  2. It is okay to make mistakes. Sleeping through your alarm and missing one class or forgetting a homework assignment once in a while will not ruin your academic career.
  3. Your health & well-being are more important than your grades. When my father passed away my sophomore year of college, I ended up taking an Incomplete in a course and finishing it later. Prioritizing family time & time to mourn was the right choice for me at the time, and that is A-OK.
  4. In 10 years’ time, whether or not you got an A in your Ecology class is really not going to matter.
  5. There are services and people who can help you.

Being at a major research university like IU comes with a lot of great benefits. Not only do we have an amazing library system, but there are specialized support services for time management as well. Often people forget that libraries involve librarians. Librarians are not just people who stand around and shush you. As a matter of fact, librarians have advanced degrees in things like research. If you are working on a major research paper, you can meet with a librarian who specializes in your subject and he or she can help you find resources. Learn more about research services here. Counselors at CAPS can help with time management, too. As a student you have 2 free counseling sessions per semester: use them! This website has tips as well as information about how to schedule an appointment with a CAPS counselor. If you struggle with writing, try visiting the Writing & Tutorial Services in Wells Library. The Student Academic Center has classes and also provides free one-on-one meetings to get a sense of your learning style and help you plan for success.

A lot of time management has to do with experimenting to find out what works best for you. Some people love flashcards; others do best with long typed-out review sheets. For some students, complicated note-taking systems prove invaluable and others just write down whatever they can in a composition book. Depending on how you learn, you might benefit from reviewing your textbook extra before a test, or from watching free videos on the Khan Academy website (this has TONS of math & science resources as well as history and economics — my fiancé uses it all the time to brush up on math!). Some people do best studying in little bursts throughout the week and others like to go put in 6 hours at the library every Saturday morning.

So what works for me? Early mornings. Clear goals, which I outline using this free printable (just as good in black-and-white as in color). Relaxing music from my Pandora account in the background, and tasty snacks when I’m working on a big assignment. I also often get ideas and inspiration from this amazing and thorough study website. I love long review sheets & highlighters.

Other tips? Start today. If you feel behind and swamped, don’t say “I’ll start a schedule on Monday.” Just plan out your studying today, and be sure to schedule in blocks of NOTHING time. Not fun activities (but schedule those too) — just time when you can veg out on Facebook or Pinterest or play video games or whatever. Everyone needs time for their brain to go mushy a bit.

Take care of yourselves & reach out for help if you need it!

p.s. Getting an assignment done ahead of time is the best feeling EVER. If you want an easy high, go cross one assignment off your list a week before it’s due. You’ll feel great.

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