How to Maximize Your Semester

By: Lindsey Romano

Life is getting back to normal. After the quiet time staying at home and working in a virtual space, regaining a sense of normalcy (when COVID is still present) can feel chaotic and overwhelming, especially for the college student. There is first the incredible demand from all of our classes and the various extracurriculars whether it be a sport, a job or internship, or a student organization. With this, there is not only the worry of good grades but the stress of plans for a future career. On top of that, the average college student desires time to hang with friends, work on hobbies, and just relax and de-stress. How can we fit it all into a day?

While a difficult balance, here are my tips for organization and time management that will help you to better maximize your time and accomplish that endless to do list

  1. Make a list with checkboxes

A good, and likely typical way, to keep track of what needs to be done is through a daily checklist. To best organize myself, I like to carry around a planner in which I make a daily list of everything I hope to accomplish. This way, I can make sure that I don’t forget anything. Plus, there’s nothing more satisfying than crossing out something you completed. Having a list like this motivates me to work towards completing it and also allows me to foresee when I may have some time to fit in the stuff I enjoy or just to relax. Another tip that works well for me is to produce the daily checklists in advance. Every Sunday, I like to sit down and write out my checklist for Monday through Friday. This way, I can assess how much I have to do and make sure I’m including a reasonable amount of work each day. By planning my checklist ahead, the work becomes less piled up towards the end of the week and the weekend. Making and sticking to my daily checklists has allowed me to stay more productive and overall have more free time.

2.Make a spreadsheet 

One of the best things I have ever done to keep track of assignments is making a master assignment list. Most professors (if you’re lucky) will give a full list of assignments and due dates at the beginning of the semester. In order to never miss an assignment, I’ve found that it’s incredibly convenient to put them all in one place. Using a program such as Excel or Google Sheets, you can type in all your assignments with due dates and color code by class. This way, you can see everything you have due in one spot and can see what is due when. With the strikethrough feature, you can cross out complete assignments and keep track of what still needs to be done. With all the various websites and pages professors tend to use, having a spreadsheet of assignments will make it much easier to check on assignments that need to be done.

3.Put the phone away

I’m guilty of it, and I’m sure we all are. You’re 5 minutes into an incredibly boring assignment when your phone buzzes. Before you know it, you’re not only checking the notification, but you’re now scrolling through Instagram and are way off task. Studies have found that although multitasking seems more productive, it is actually much less time consuming to focus on one task at a time. So when you’re trying to get that assignment done, tuck your phone away either in a drawer or your backpack. Although having to focus longer, you’ll ultimately have more time to scroll through your phone when you’re done. Your focus will ultimately benefit you. 

  1. Pre-schedule the fun stuff

If you don’t schedule in that time for friends, exercise, hobbies, or self care, it just won’t happen. Odds are you’ll become buried in school work and stress that the fun activities will be the first thing to be cut. However, these activities can be just as important for school work, especially when it comes to mental health. The best way to ensure they happen is to schedule them in like a meeting or a class. For example, maybe you ask a friend if they want to grab lunch on Wednesday at 12 versus asking on the day of. This way, the time is marked in your calendar, and you can plan your work ahead to ensure you have the time free. The same can be done with other activities. Simply take time at the beginning of the week to schedule them, so you know ahead of time that the time is blocked off. If you don’t trust yourself to keep it, it may even be a good idea to sign up for a class that you would have to attend. You could sign up for a yoga class if you want to ensure time for exercise or maybe an art class if you love to draw and want to be sure you make time for it. Planning these activities ahead of time will ensure that you still have activities that you enjoy in your week and that you take time to relax. 

  1. Stress less

With your future being a constant concern and discussion in college, it can be easy to stress about it. So I’ll be the one to tell you that it’s totally okay to relax. Don’t get me wrong, there will definitely be those weeks where the work is piled up, but when you’re able, there’s nothing wrong with taking some time for yourself. Endless work will only lead to stress. Ultimately, if you take the time to relax a bit, you will be overall more productive and can avoid burnout. I know it’s hard, but try not to stress too much about the future. Things will lay out just as they should. You’ll learn so many things that can prepare you for your future in college, but I think the most important is learning to put yourself first. 

All in all, college is a unique time in your life with so much opportunity. The time will fly by, so spend it doing what makes you happy because that’s how you can truly maximize your semester.

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