Success in College Guide: Step 5 of 9

Steps 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Manage your time

Starting college, working, and keeping up with your social life can seem overwhelming at first. You can learn to handle it, though. Gather a few simple tools, a portable file box, colored file folders, envelope files and a "month-at-a-glance" calendar. Then check out the following six steps. Just 15 minutes a day will at least get you on your way.

  1. Get a box and start a filing system. You want a way to get that document out of the way for now, but quickly in your hands later. Forget the frustrations and frantic moments of a messy desk and hard-to-find "important" papers; file it away. Keep a supply of file folders, envelopes, and stamps in the front of the box.
  2. Color code your files for your different activities. For example, keep all your high school documents and information about extracurricular activities in yellow folders. Use blue folders for financial aid papers (FAFSA, loan applications/promissory notes, award letters, etc.). How about red for important bills? (You don't want to miss a car payment or paying your cell phone bill.) Once you've paid a bill, move it to an envelope folder for that month. You also can file receipts for cash purchases in that month's file; that way you can track your purchases, and you have a head start when it's time for paying your taxes or completing the FAFSA!
  3. Prioritize: Put first things first. Use your calendar to keep track of deadlines, work schedule, dates bills are due, and other important activities. If you use an electronic calendar, you might want to print it in a monthly format. Meeting deadlines for applications and other activities becomes increasingly important in college. They can really make you or break you, so find a way to keep track of them.
  4. Keep lists. Know that you have everything you need and you have completed all your tasks by getting it down on paper. Bonus: Later you can smile with pride as you look over the list of all the things you've accomplished. Now that's motivation enough to make another list!
  5. Schedule time for studying AND time for relaxing. Know what you need for optimum performance, and adjust your schedule accordingly.
  6. Finally, know the time of day when you have the most energy. Tackle your most demanding assignments and tasks at that time. If you don't have the time or energy to complete a task today, instead of putting it off until tomorrow, do a piece of it today. You may never have a block of time big enough to finish the whole thing in one sitting!

Balancing your life

It's too bad we can't do everything. Even with positive, new opportunities, there is added responsibility and time commitments. Don't weigh yourself down with too much to do. Be realistic. You may decide it's best to at least delay participation for now.

Tips for balancing:

  • Remember why you're here-- to get an education. Make anything that will help you with this goal a priority.
  • Have you scheduled at least a couple of hours for studying every day? You may need more than two hours if you are taking particularly tough classes, though you may be able to get by on less study time and do okay. Decide how much time you need for every course, and schedule it on your calendar.
  • If you have activities that keep you busy every night, you may have too much going on in your life. Plan your social activities for the weekend and your days off. Remember, adequate rest is needed to enjoy college and benefit from the experience--not to mention, stay awake in class.
  • An internship is a great opportunity to get real-world experience. Before you jump at the opportunity, though, realistically consider the hours (including any travel time to the workplace) and how that will impact your time to study and other activities. If your schedule is busy already, maybe a summer internship would work better.