Updated: Aug 30, 2019
One thing I never fully grasped in high school: properly managing my time.
Sure, I never missed a deadline, received good grades, and still made time for a day out with friends. That was easy.
But, planning my day by the hour? Reserving a few choice weekdays to study within the small pockets of time I have to work and putting aside the weekends to work overtime?
Not so much.
I'm learning very quickly how precious time is—how short 24 hours can be, how fast time can slip you by. It's an overwhelming, and slightly intimidating, lesson that I can't conquer without discipline. In high school, I was good at keeping every deadline, every paper, every assignment somewhere secure and fresh in the back of my mind. This year, as a first-year college student, that system has failed.
So, I have come up with something newer and better, a system a student like me would perhaps like to adopt. It's a system that takes the pressure off of our bad memory with a strategy suitable enough for each of our busy schedules, especially with the strong goals we've set for ourselves.
For example, I'm shooting for all A's this semester. It may seem crazy, but not with the strategy I designed. And, my strategy is simple:
Write things down.
Get a planner, collect your syllabi, write down every date you see, along with weekly reminders to set aside time during the weekend to prepare for them—the most important step for me. No more waking up mid-sleep to work on an assignment due the next morning and "being able to pull it off." No more doing the homework while it's being collected (though, I must say, that's pretty impressive). It's time to start documenting deadlines and working on assignments earlier than a week before it's due. It's a strategy that will save students like myself rest, time, and deliver us from anxiety.
And, while you are writing down upcoming assignments in the appropriate dates where they're due, you should also consider putting every day under a category.
Here's what I mean:
I call Monday's work days. Tuesday's I've renamed to "study" days. Wednesday's are my writing days. Thursday's I rest. I have found most Friday's to be where academic assignments are due. Saturday's are "study" days. (Yes, I recommend two study days!) Sunday's I reserve just for you and I—blogging day!
Therefore, when I go to write down my upcoming assignments, I know how to spend each day to prepare for them. It's only been a short week for classes, but I can testify that this system works...
but not without color coordination.
Highlighters, folders, binders, notebooks, anything to help you recognize which day is which, which course is which, will help you tell two subjects and two due dates apart.
For example, I know an assignment for math is due if it's written in black pen and know that all of my assignments can be found in a black folder. Same for my history courses. I know that if it's highlighted in blue or written in a blue notebook—it must be history. And, so on. It's strategy and organization coming together, making life easier for people like me, with goals as strong as all A's for the semester.
With a goal that high, however, I had to ask myself some serious questions, i.e., how bad do I want a social life? Because a social life is important, right? Especially in college, which is why you should schedule time for it. Don't get me wrong. If a busy week is coming up and you just can't squeeze a night-out in, pass the fun for now until you can. You'll thank yourself in the long run, though it may take a lot to resist it in the moment.
Another thing to consider when it comes to hanging out with friends: budgeting, asking yourself questions like, "Do I have to go out for wings after the game?"
(I've found out that no matter how hard you try to say no, the answer is always yes, so make sure you plan accordingly—wink!)
In all cases, though, there's going to be something that will cost money, something that isn't in your designed budget but will affect your savings anyhow. This is a lesson I'm learning fairly quick, considering how easy it is to spend money on campus. However, with a planning strategy disciplined enough for studying, work, and rest, with a little leniency on getting wing's after the game (if I have time for it), my organized schedule will help me build my budget now so the two can work together throughout the school year.
In conclusion, having goals for the school year is a good thing, but if you're serious about achieving them, you need a strategy. What I've listed are strategies that work for me. My encouragement is that you develop a strategy that works for you. That's what this is all about—achieving our goals with discipline and design. It's going to be a great year. I can already tell.