Michaels: The effective habits of a stressed college student

Michaels discusses effective habits for the new year. - Copy Editor / Sylent Lee Michaels

With a new semester comes new classes, new plans and new experiences. Therefore, I think it is time to talk about organizational skills and little tips to help you through the semester and life in general. 

I have to be honest, last semester put me through the wringer. It ended up being way more challenging than I expected it would be. I worked relentlessly to keep up my grades — all while working and struggling with my mental health as well as trying to keep up with relationships. The more I talked about how my semester went, the more I realized that a lot of other people shared my hardships.

I know life is hard and so is college. But what most people aren’t talking about is how overwhelming it is trying to perfectly balance classes, working, extracurriculars, family, friendship, love interests and self-care. Typically, at one point or another, one of these will become challenging or will receive less attention. 

Of course, some people master time management so nothing ever gets swept to the sidelines. But, if you are like me, you probably have some trouble with that. So, in an attempt to manage my time while still taking care of myself, I’ve come up with some tips to hold myself accountable for the way I spend my time. Maybe if they help me, they can help someone else. 

The very first thing I always do is make lists and notes. Any bit of written-down plans make scheduling a breeze and helps you to not forget anything. The best way to get into this is to write the assignments you have due, and sometimes it helps to give yourself a loose schedule of when you want to have those assignments finished. It also is super beneficial to write down your schedule for the week, preferably in a planner — it helps you to stay more organized.

And of course, you can make a to-do list, but you need to actually follow it. Don’t procrastinate! Start working from the jump whenever you can. If you have a big assignment, do a little bit each day to make it easier on yourself. Break up your work so you aren’t breaking your brain.  

A huge distraction that comes with trying to actually complete homework is your phone. We have apps on our phones that are specifically designed to keep you locked in for hours, so the best thing you can do is put it down. Keep it somewhere out of reach or turn it off for at least an hour a day. This way you can focus on the now, instead of giving your attention to texts or social media. 

A few new things I have been trying to tie into my routine have been to actively set aside time for my friends and family. Take note of the moments in your life when you don’t have class, work or homework to do. Those are the times to make plans or give your family members a call. While I am a huge fan of spontaneity in my plans, there isn’t much leeway for that during the semester. Try your best to plan ahead so you will have time to do all that you need. 

That being said, keep in mind that it is okay to cancel plans or to stay in. Listen to your mind and body, do what is best for you. There will always be another chance to go out with your friends, but there isn’t another chance to get your assignment done on time. You can not make up for lost time you could have used for yourself. 

Additionally, allow yourself time to be creative or to simply focus on yourself. It is easy to pass up doing the things you love when trying to do five classes worth of assignments, with all the added objectives you must complete. So, try and find a collective of at least four hours out of the week to do those things. Write, paint, read or play your video games for an hour one day or take an hour to rest and do some self-care. Not only will this help you relax, but it can also ultimately improve your mental health. 

Take at least half an hour a day to be active as well. Whether you are going to the gym, taking a walk, or doing jumping jacks — you have to get yourself up and moving. It helps clear your mind so you can focus on what you need to, which can be hard when you’re focused on a million different things. 

These are just a few things that I have implemented for myself in my daily routine to hold myself accountable for my time and serenity. Please take what you will to help, but remember what works for you is best. Good luck with the new semester, may it go smoothly and you accomplish all you wish to achieve. 

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