By: Maddy Nemec
Have you ever felt really overwhelmed in college or at any point in your life? Me too, the stress is real. Everyone experiences that dreaded feeling of being put under pressure or knowing that there is a lot to get done. It can be draining, and many of us would rather spend our time relaxing. However, as much as we wish it could be, free time can’t be all the time. College requires extra time and work in order to help us grow. This does not mean that there aren’t ways to manage your responsibilities and ease your stress!
Based on the habits that have helped me as a student, I have created the ultimate guide for managing your time in college:
Create a To-Do List
Never underestimate the power of a good list. It may seem like an obvious solution, but they are truly so helpful at keeping you on task. You can keep it simple by just listing what needs to get done, or be more detailed by specifying when or how long you will be doing something. Checking items off of your list when they are complete is one of the best feelings ever, and will give you an extra boost of motivation. I also love lists because you can make them pretty and fun to write!
Prioritize Important Tasks
Getting bigger assignments completed first will give you more motivation to do the rest of your tasks. There is usually always something that needs to get done in college, so the best thing you can do is tackle most important things first. Once your more daunting tasks are out of the way, you will feel relieved and ready to take on everything else. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by your homework, but try not to focus on how much needs to get done. Instead, do one assignment at a time starting from high priority and work your way down to lower priority. Remind yourself to just try your best and it will all work out!
Set Aside Time for Fun and Relaxation
Allowing yourself to relax is a good thing and you shouldn’t feel guilty for doing it. You will feel more refreshed and able to think clearly once you get back to your work. According to Emma Seppala, Science Director at Stanford University, studies find that self-compassion is much better for our mental health and success compared to self-criticism. Go easy on yourself, doing too much work in one period of time can cause you to experience burnout. You are better off taking a break to do something that you enjoy, rather than lose focus while trying to do work for too long. Planning something fun to do will also give structure to your schedule and positively motivate you into doing homework during your remaining time.
Talk to Friends or a Community
Socializing with people who relate to you, care about you, or support you can be very comforting and stress-relieving. It can be difficult to get anything done when we are feeling lonely, homesick, or unhappy at school. To help minimize these feelings, try to meet new people on campus or talk to friends or family that you already know. Joining a student organization or getting a part-time job in college are great ways to meet new people who likely have similar interests. You can also speak to a counselor through the free counselling services at UWW; or other people you trust on campus like an RA or professor. When you need something familiar, keep in touch with your friends and family from home.
Organization is key to managing your responsibilities, but what is considered organized may be different based on the person. It helps me to test out different organizational methods, and then continue to use the ones that work best. Some general methods that help a lot of people include having different notebooks or folders for each class, creating a routine, and writing events on a calendar. Even little changes to how you organize your things can make a big difference towards your overall productivity and mental health.
Find New Places to Study
A great way to stay motivated and on task is by switching up your environment. Staying in one spot to do work can be draining and cause you to lose focus. Find the place that you feel most productive in, and try not to study in your bedroom too often. You may find that working near a window is calming, or maybe you prefer a more private area like a study room. If you get bored of a study spot, there are many places on campus that are great for getting work done!
Although college may feel overwhelming at times, there are many ways to make the best of your time here. This quote from Dolly Parton helps me feel better during stressful times, “The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up the rain.” These methods have helped me adjust to college lifestyle, so I hope that they are useful for you too. You’ve got this, Warhawks!