University is a big change from school - we have more freedom, we are immersed in a new environment, we meet new people, we get involved with clubs and societies, we have to balance our social life while trying not to fall behind in our academics and so on. I speak from experience when I say it can be overwhelming. How does one balance it all? How does one keep it together without losing one's sanity?
Here are a few things I've learned in my time at university, helping me balance extracurricular activities along with my school work.
#1 - Become ORGANISED
Keep track of everything. Write everything down. This is the single most important step to ensure that you don't forget anything. At the start of every academic year, I buy a planner and I write down when I have exams, assignments, meetings, events....everything. Go crazy and make it colour coded if you want. If you aren't old school like me, you can use your phone, iPad etc.
#2 - Develop a ROUTINE
Once you have your college timetable, develop a schedule. Figure out when you study best and put it into your schedule. Schedule in meetings/training sessions for clubs and societies, your workout sessions and don't forget to schedule in time for fun! All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy! They say it takes 30 days for us to get into a routine but once we develop good habits it makes our lives easier. I like routine, it has definitely help me manage my time more effectively. I like to plan ahead, so every Sunday evening, I'd schedule my week ahead, it keeps me organised and on top of things.
#3 - Choose your PRIORITIES
It's very easy for us to become engulfed by university life and lose sight of the important things, putting ourselves under unnecessary stress. I've learned to just take charge of the situation and focus on my main priorities. While it is important to get involved with extracurriculars, our number one priority in uni should be our education. All other activities are secondary to this. Prioritising means deciding on tasks that are urgent and important i.e your college work and dealing with those first before tackling other things.
#4 - Avoid PROCRASTINATION
The biggest one of them all. Let's be real, every student has and will procrastinate - it's our thing. I procrastinate too. What is procrastination? It is the act of avoiding doing things that need to be done or leaving things undone for as long as possible. Procrastination may not necessarily be a bad thing, for example some people say they work best under pressure and tight deadlines. I ain't one of those people so I'm trying to overcome my tendency to procrastinate. If you find that procrastinating is affecting your ability to be productive then you need to work on it. One way that I deal with procrastination, especially during busy times is that I make daily to-do lists and only when I complete my to-do list do I reward myself with something that I would much rather do.
#5 - Learn to let things GO
A lot of the time we like to please people and take on too much tasks than we are able to manage. Remember it's OK to say no to people. It's OK to decline that party invitation if you know there's an important exam that you need to study for. Skip a few society meetings or sports games or whatever if you must. (Remember, what is your main priority?) Also, avoid the drama that comes with being involved with so many people. This can lead to major time wastage. There will be confrontations and people who will step on your toes and push your buttons. Sort out the issue and move on with your life. Ain't nobody got time for that!
#6 - Be FLEXIBLE
There will be unexpected situations that arise, unplanned emergencies, etc - such is life. Make adjustments for them in your schedule and don't be freaked out when they occur. You may not be able to complete all that you would like to in a week, it happens, move things around so that you complete those which are urgent and important.
“You can’t save time, you can only spend it wisely”