Helena Perray gives an honest perspective of holding on to memories in this week's Student Diary. - Photo via pixabay.com

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, being a college student is essentially a full-time job. Most students spend roughly 15 hours per week in the classroom and countless hours of their own time studying and finishing coursework. It can be easy to let the responsibilities of college life overwhelm you, especially when trying to maintain a social life. Here are a few tips to aid you in making the most of your time: 

Write it down

Don’t underestimate the power of a to-do list. Whether you keep it on your phone or hung above your bed frame, make a general list of everything you need and want to accomplish this week. Make note of school work, exams, work shifts and social events. Having the ideas on paper rids your brain of cluttered thoughts and illustrates a clear image of upcoming responsibilities. 


Once you have it written out, take the time to decipher the more timely aspects of your schedule. Treat this list as a rough draft of sorts, underlining closer due dates, starring upcoming events, circling shifts and bolding projects that will need significantly more time and attention. Develop a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish first and let the rest fall in line accordingly. 

Time chunk

Although the urge can seem uncontrollable, do not gamble with your time by winging it. You have 24 hours a day to divide into professional, personal and social time slots. Dedicate the personal hours when needed, allowing yourself 30 to 45 minutes for meals, exercise or moments of relaxation. Dedicate a few hours to school work with social or personal breaks in between. Work diligently for an hour or two, then grab lunch with a friend or take a walk and decompress before returning to your tasks.

Allow your brain to recharge and digest the work you have accomplished in order to avoid overloading it with information, generating less productive results. Be aware of what you would like to be doing and use it as motivation for what you must be doing rather than as a replacement.

If you intend on going out Friday night when that paper happens to be due, let it motivate you to set aside time throughout the week, a mere 30 minutes a day leading up to the due date in order to complete it, leaving Friday night free of work obligations. 

Stop saying yes to everything

You are one person, so stop forcing yourself to bite off more than you can chew. Understand your physical and mental limits. In the midst of a full course load, it can be easy to feel the pressure of building a full resume while trying to maintain the “college experience.”

While it can be exceptionally beneficial to get involved, you rob yourself of fully optimizing opportunities by spreading yourself too thin. It’s necessary to say no every once in a while. Hone in on a few responsibilities, such as a club, a school publication or volunteer work, and strive to improve and advance your skills in those key areas rather than remaining stagnant in a variety of positions.

Know that social events come and go. It won’t be the last party or night out, and missing one every now and then will not deteriorate the entirety of your college experience. 

Be neither careless nor controlled

While keeping an organized list or time-blocked calendar is undoubtedly helpful in making productive use of your time, don’t let the schedule control you. Life happens, opportunities arise and you can’t plan for the unexpected.

Listen to yourself and grant yourself the liberty of shifting things around, needing a little more decompression on certain days and a little less on others. Stay focused and check accomplishments off as you go. Schedule organization is specific to you and your life.

Nothing is set in stone so take advantage of the flexibility, allowing it to encourage you to push yourself to new limits and step back when need be.

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