April 30, 2024 by

Throughout high school, class attendance is mandatory and daily. Completion of homework is motivated by grades and parents. Most students are only involved in one or two extracurriculars, largely for resume-building. However, entering college is the beginning of a unique transition time where students begin to figure out how to manage their own time. Students are the ones in control of their academic schedules and other decisions that influence their productivity throughout the day. 

With all of the potential for a fresh start, it can be just as overwhelming as it is relieving to finally sit in the driver’s seat. Below are some tips to set yourself up for academic success. 

Be honest with yourself. 

Are you reeaally going to wake up for that 8 a.m. class? You are more equipped than anyone to evaluate what class schedule suits you. There isn’t always room for flexibility, but, when possible, evaluate the commitments you’ve signed up for already and reflect on whether or not you will actually do them. How often have you said “yes” so many times that you’re swimming in commitments and don’t really want to do any of them? There’s unfortunately no time in college to stuff your plate! Truly evaluate your choices and determine which ones align with you the most. You will not only increase your productivity, but you will also be much more content with your situation. 

In my own life, I know that morning classes are no problem; afternoon classes are the ones that put me to sleep! When possible, I load my mornings with classes so that the afternoons are saved for lunch and homework. However, some people prefer to sleep in because they know getting up before the birds just isn’t a reality for them. That’s perfectly fine! Having different class sections available allows both me and the next person to craft our schedules according to who we know ourselves to be. 

Evaluate your priorities. 

Have you ever gotten dizzy looking at the list of things to do in your planner? And when it was time to crack down, you spent way too much time trying to determine where to start? This can be overwhelming and almost debilitating. Your mind becomes so filled with anxiety that you’re simply trying to stay afloat. Instead of a long list of to-dos becoming a burden, there are a few strategies for choosing where your energy should go in the moment. 

      1. How soon does this need to be completed? 

Working on a 10-page paper due at 11:59 p.m. certainly takes precedence over preparing for soccer  try-outs a month from now. I might have to say “no” to training today in order to get that A on my    paper. It’s certainly beneficial to think ahead and take care of certain responsibilities in advance,    but when the clock is ticking, it’s crucial to adjust your focus accordingly. 

      2. How high are the stakes tied to my completion of this project on time? 

A late assignment worth 10 points shouldn’t hold the same priority as one worth 300 points. Evaluate which of your to-dos holds the most importance. Maybe you have a job interview tomorrow at 4 p.m. and an exam at 8 a.m. The exam may take importance because it’s happening right away. Tanking that class wouldn’t look great on a resume anyway.  

      3. How long will this take to complete? 

My general rule of thumb is if it takes five minutes or less, I can go ahead and get it out of the way. Completing several small tasks builds my stamina to finish large, time-consuming projects. However, there are other times that I have enough motivation right away to tackle the large task. It goes back to knowing yourself and what’s most efficient for you, but have systems in place that organize your priorities based on time constraints. 

After evaluating your priorities, build a schedule for the day that strategically goes through all of them. Set a timer or ask a friend to hold you accountable — whatever it takes — to check all your boxes. 

Build consistency. 

It’s important for your priorities to have intentional time carved out of your day. For example, my mornings are the most structured part of my day because there is rarely a time that they’re not decided by me. My evenings tend to be unpredictable. As a result, I’m able to set a consistent morning routine. I fill it with priorities like going to the gym and reading the Bible. I can always be sure these things will get done because I’ve made them parts of my routine rather than just things I do when I have extra time. I’ve built consistency into my schedule that supports productivity and fulfilling my priorities. 

There are also times where a priority for me might be refreshing my mental health. I may dedicate an hour of my day to my hobbies or to relaxing with a friend with no school involved. It’s crucial to design your schedule to consistently support a recharge, or you’ll become burnt out quickly.  

Orchestrating all of the moving parts to perfectly align to your personality and preferences can be challenging, but following some of the tips above can help you on your way to setting your perfect daily schedule as you begin to take ownership of how your hours are spent in college. 

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