One of the biggest adjustments I’ve had to make in the transition into college life is budgeting my time and creating a balanced schedule. There is the constant temptation to procrastinate and put off homework while lying in my bed watching Disney movies in between classes. Of course I’m still working out the bugs, but I think I’ve established a pretty solid set of working habits.
1) Start early. Even if you think you have three weeks before you need to start a paper, start thinking about it earlier. I’ve found that the weeks often speed by, and little assignments and essays pop up very quickly. Unfortunately, I would sometimes consider myself as an AP (Advanced Procrastination) student, so I always make a conscious effort to sit down and start brainstorming or outlining so I have something to go off of once my essay deadline gets closer.
2) Make a list. This always keeps me organized and helps me handle stress. I make lists all the time, of homework that I need to do, when I need to work out, shopping lists, ideas for new blog posts or Facebook graphics. Checking off a task on my list is like a mental high five and I like having everything written down so nothing gets forgotten.
3) Nap. I never really appreciated the wonderfulness of napping until I got to college. Staying up late studying, or even a rough couple morning classes can be rewarded with a heavenly daytime nap. It’s a good pick-me-up and also helps make up for some lost sleep. Make sure you set an alarm though, because nothing is worse than your roommate throwing a pillow at you at 2:29 asking, “Don’t you have class at 2:30?”
4) Find what works for you. For me, I’m most productive sitting on my floor while listening to movie soundtracks or Christmas music. Why? I have no idea whatsoever, but that’s what works for me. Some people need to clean their desk off and can’t work with music. Others are masters of multitasking, like my roommate for example. She can write an essay, watch The Office, and update her Twitter while still getting work done.
5) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I’ve never been a big fan of admitting when I need help, but I’ve learned that it’s not a sign of weakness or lack of intelligence. Here at Ave, there are many opportunities to get homework help or someone to proofread a paper. All the professors have office hours, and are more than willing to help with any questions or papers. The Academic Center for Excellence, aka the ACE Place, is a great place to get help as well. Going to the library for study groups or working in the 24 hour room is always beneficial, and is always popular around exam time.
6) Leave time for you. I’m pretty sure if I shut myself in my room and worked all the time, my brain would explode. And that wouldn’t be helpful for anyone now, would it? Set aside time to go to a sporting event, get involved in an intramural sport, have a movie night, go for a walk around campus, find a friend with a car and drive into Naples, stop by the Café for a snack and a quick game of pool. There are always activities on campus that are great opportunities to socialize and take a break from homework.
I think Mary Poppins was absolutely right when she said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.” I’ve found that the less I worry about an assignment and the more I try to really get into it and find something to be passionate about, I get it done with less stress and I am able to finish a lot faster. Of course, sometimes that ‘element of fun’ is something you have to insert yourself, and very often includes some form of procrastination. However, once you find your balance and work out your schedule, everything seems to fall into place.