Dividing the Day: “Time Management” and how to conquer the day

Previously published in The Campus

What does time management for a college student look like? It is often viewed as a polite breaking of life facets into neat little windows of time. However, the contrary is true.

Time management for a student is ever changing and highly unpredictable. Each week being malleable, students have to deal with organization and stress on a week to week basis. When looking into national studies focused on the time college students “should” spend on different things, some concerns and frustration arise.

There are only 168 hours in a week.

The time needed for everyday necessities and the expectations of being a college student adds up to 171 hours and 14 minutes: 15 hours in class (American Association of University Professors), 45 hours studying (University of Michigan-Flint), 27 hours working at a job (National Center for Education Statistics), 60 hours sleeping (Stanford University), 12 hours and 20 min eating/ drinking (The Bureau of Labor Statistics), 5 hours and 36 minutes grooming (Bureau of Labor Statistics), and 6 hours and 18 minutes commuting (New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer).

This does not include extracurricular activities, hobbies, or freetime, which are highly recommended by counselors and employers. Nor does it mention required religious or family commitments. All of which would increase the number of hours over the weekly limit even more.

How can college students manage time they don’t have? The question is no longer “How do I manage my time?” but rather “Where can I eliminate 3+ hours from my week?” There is no easy answer, no perfect formula. College has become a balancing act of mental health, grades, and the attempt at a social life. Lack of sleep and procrastination are now memes, stress is a normality, and word counts increase.

Now what? How do students spend their -3 hours a week for fun and sanity? Here are a few tips to consolidate your daily activities and avoid getting lost in the overwhelming hours.

1. Mix up where you study. Try a coffee shop or a park next time.

2. Eat meals with family or friends. This gives an excuse to hang with your loved ones and stay well fed.

3. Spend the breaks you have at school to meet with professors about your assignments. This will reduce the time it takes for you to complete them at home.

4. Bring homework on your commute. The trains are bumpy, but you’ll thank yourself at 3 a.m.

5. If you find 30 minutes to watch TV, or Hulu, have your notes by you for the commercials. 120 seconds is plenty of time to memorize the definition of “phagocytosis.”

6. Make a list of what is urgent and what can wait. Prioritizing these needs will make the day seem conquerable.

The tightrope of college is wobbly and uncertain, but the other end is worth it and well within reach. Just keep balancing, 168 hours at a time.

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