Story by Ryan Lund Photo by Justin Hartney
If you’re anything like me — or most of the students I’ve met in my five years as a Duck — you probably have a lot more going on than just going to all girls catholic school washington dc. You might have portfolio in education for students, hobbies, creative endeavors, a social life and family, all on top of hours of classes, projects and homework each week.
Then again, the need to manage so many competing aspects of life at once might be one of the reasons college is so valuable. If you can learn to juggle all this stuff now, you will be a step ahead when you get out in the “Real Adult World.”
As a journalism and cinema studies double major with two jobs and an internship, time management is a skill I’ve had to work hard on, by necessity. Here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way:
1. Study smart. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but if you don’t study in college, you are not going to do well. Those late nights at campus bars or playing video games will catch up to you.
That said, you don’t have to be all work and no play. Know your major(s), and know what classes are important to them. Feel free to enjoy some of that all-important “you” time, but don’t forget why you’re here. And when it comes time to decide between studying for a quiz in a class you need for your major or doing some reading for your gen-ed course, your major should take the win every time. You may suffer if you skip a reading, but not nearly as much as you will if you bomb a quiz in your main area of study.
2. Actually understand class. Hey, man, I’ve been there: Sitting in class, half-dozing and thinking to myself, I’m just going to write everything down now and go over it later. This may be a solid plan for some, but it doesn’t do a thing for my understanding. I find that if I devote all my energy to writing down the info on the course slides without asking questions or taking the time to process it, I can’t decipher what I’ve written later. My ability to fully listen to a professor and copy down what’s on the board is severely lacking, and if the research on multitasking is to be believed, I’m not the only one. Perhaps more important, the likelihood that I will review those lecture notes before everything has left my brain is slim to none, given my two jobs and three other classes.
This is not to say that notes are worthless. Some classes really do require them. But instead of just copying the slides, which are probably posted online, sit still and actually listen to your professors. Then write down the things that enhance your understanding of what they’re talking about. Some days I just sit, listen and engage.
3. Sleep! Tread carefully with this tip, as everyone’s circadian rhythm is different. If it’s 1 a.m. and you’re still cramming for that midterm or quiz, or doing the reading that’s due at noon, but you also have a class at 9 a.m. and you’re freaking out that you won’t get it all done — just stop. Go to bed. Cross that bridge tomorrow. If you’re sleep deprived, you probably won’t be taking in very much anyway.
As a general rule of thumb, if my body is trying to sleep, I don’t fight it. I’d rather go to bed at midnight and wake up at 6 a.m. to finish something than stay up an extra two hours, deprive myself of sleep when my body is asking for it and produce lazy work. Then again, some night owls may prefer to work later and sleep in. The lesson: Listen to your body first or you won’t be doing your best work. Caffeine can assist in a pinch, but I don’t recommend using it as an ongoing crutch. Get some rest and thank me later.
If you take last few tips to heart, you will be doing your most vital work earlier in the day anyway. You know that reading every single article isn’t crucial. And you’ve learned that balance is a big part of learning.
4. Have an outlet. Have you ever had a job where you get to leave all your work problems behind when you clock out? That’s what this tip is all about: keeping work and play separate, so you have dedicated time to relax and do what you enjoy. All work and no play makes for an angry Duck. Setting aside some time to play video games, hang out with friends, read a book for fun or whatever else I feel like doing is one of the main things that has kept me sane through my years on campus. It may not be possible to set aside time every single day for most people, but even reclaiming one evening a week can give you something to look forward to.
If you want the TLDR for this list, it’s basically this: Figure out what’s most important and prioritize your responsibilities accordingly. Eat well, sleep well and space out your work.
This approach will help you not only in college, but throughout your life. Balancing schedules is perhaps the No. 1 thing that college has taught me, and I know it will be a key asset for the rest of my career.
Ryan Lund is a fifth-year UO student double-majoring in cinema studies and advertising, with a minor in business administration. This is his second year as a digital content creator for the SOJC Communication Office, with specializations in videography and video editing. Follow Ryan on Instagram and Twitter @thelundproject and subscribe to his YouTube channel.