As a student, you probably have too much to do and too little time. For many students, being in college is their first experience of being fully responsible for their own schedule and juggling so many responsibilities. Over time, you will learn what works for you and how to get things done. Learning to maintain a good work-life balance to avoid becoming over-stressed and burnt out is crucial.
The following strategies can help you complete your tasks, reduce your stress, and improve your overall well-being.
Mark it on your calendar!
A calendar, either paper or virtual, helps you keep track of your schedule, particularly when your schedule changes week to week. Make note of all your classes, meetings, appointments, events, and commitments so you can keep on track and plan accordingly.
Pencil it in!
Build a habit of writing down tasks in one place (i.e. calendars). Writing tasks down and routinely checking the list will help you remember and follow-through on tasks. Everyone is different when it comes to what works for them, so find a system that works for you! Appreciate that sense of accomplishment that people often feel when they physically or virtually cross things off their list.
Plan, plan, plan!
Always plan ahead. For you, this may mean planning your day by the hour or perhaps it works better to plan by the week. Either way, break the semester down into smaller, manageable increments and plan your time accordingly.
Go with the flow.
As we know, things don’t always go according to plan. Build wiggle room into your schedule to accommodate the unexpected.
Plan your time and schedule according to the tasks that are most important and require more time. Look at your schedule and determine what can wait and what may require the least amount of time. This strategy allows you to spend your time and energy doing fewer and more important things really well.
It’s okay to say “No.”
Learning to say no is difficult. You may feel put on the spot and as if you have no options. However, when we say “yes” to everything, we become over-extended and exhausted and then tend to neglect ourselves and the things we value most. Practice saying, “Let me think about that,” or “Can I get back to you later?” and then allow yourself time to weigh the pros and cons and make a more informed decision.
Don’t fall into the avoidance trap.
Starting a task is often the hardest step and this can lead to procrastination and avoidance. Break down difficult tasks into more manageable goals to avoid feeling overwhelmed and falling into the avoidance trap. Scheduling smaller chunks of time to work on a task provides a sense of accomplishment and reduces feeling overwhelmed. Build in rewards as incentives (i.e. if you complete a chapter, then you can hang out with your friends for an hour).
People, places, and things.
Find your ideal study location, free from distractions. Determine if you require solitude for full concentration or perhaps you need the support of a study group or some music to motivate you. Resist the urge to use your cell phone or binge on television.
Here is a list of helpful calendar and anti-distraction apps that may keep you on track: