College is crazy busy. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed and stressed out with everything that quickly fills your schedule: class, extra curriculars, work, friends, family, etc. Free time? What’s that?
After 5 semesters of college, I’ve learned some key ways to make the best use of my time. These really help me balance the many aspects of my life, stay on top of my responsibilities, and still have some time to myself.
1. Stay organized
I don’t know about you, but I feel like I couldn’t function without using a planner. I’ve used many over the years, but my favorite one right now is Golden Coil. I love it because I’m able to customize it and can use it anyway I want (check out this post for how I use my Golden Coil Planner). I use the calendar on my phone to put in my class times, meetings, and important events, and my planner keeps up with my day-to-day tasks. I take my planner pretty much everywhere I go so that I can easily take note of something I need to remember, and it really helps me keep my life organized and stay on top of my school work.
2. Prioritize school
This might be kinda obvious, but it’s so crucial! It’s so important to prioritize your tasks for the day, and my classwork is pretty much always #1 on my list of things to do. From there, I’ll prioritize each assignment or class to study for so that I know what needs to get done first. I’m so NOT a procrastinator, so I like to know the assignments I have for the entire week and then go from there. This really helps me not feel stressed with school work and keep up with my grades.
3. Start the day early
I LOVE an early start to my days. I’m talkin’ like 5:30 am early. I know that’s a little crazy and pretty unusual for a college student haha. My favorite way to start the day is with a sweat, so about 3-4 times a week, I’ll wake up at 5:30 for an Orange Theory session, F45 class, or an outdoor run. I totally get this isn’t for everyone, but starting my day this way really motivates me to be productive for the rest of the day. Even on the days I don’t work out, I still wake up early, usually between 6 and 6:30. After fixing a cup of coffee and getting ready, I tackle one of my “to-do”s of the day. I find that being productive in the morning, whether it’s with a workout, homework, or even drafting a blog post, really sets the mood for the rest of the day.
4. Prioritize your well-being
Exercising at least a couple times a week is definitely part of this, but even more important is getting enough sleep. I think a lot of people, especially college students, underestimate the importance of sleep. It’s truly a difference maker! Since I wake up so early, I’m usually crawling into bed around 10pm (such a grandma, I know). But I’ve found that prioritizing sleep REALLY helps me feel my best and feel ready to take on each day. Whenever I have a week of little sleep, I can definitely tell the difference in my mood and the amount of work I’m able to get done.
Another part of staying healthy and maintaining my well being is eating healthy! This can be hard at times for sure. Breakfasts and lunches are pretty easy; I usually grab protein bar on the way out the door and pack a sandwich and some fruit for my lunch. Dinners are what require a little more prep! My goal each week is to cook dinner at least one night, and then I’m able to eat those leftovers the rest of the week. I try to keep eating out to a minimum — usually two or three times a week at most. Moderation is key! (Check out my post on grocery shopping on a budget and eating healthy in college!)
5. Have some “you time” at the end of each day.
I usually finish my days around 7 or 8pm (by finish I mean with class, meetings, work, and the homework/studying of the day). At this time, I’ll make myself dinner, get ready for bed, and then have an hour or so to myself. This is one of the best parts of the day! I’m finished with all the work I needed to accomplish, so I finally have time for myself. I usually choose to spend this time watching a show, reading a book, FaceTiming a friend, or drafting a blog post. Saving this for the end of my day is like my reward, which really helps me stay focused and motivated throughout the day.
Balancing school, work, well being, and a social life is no easy task. There are a lot of times I have to say “no” to certain things because there’s just no space in my schedule. But after a couple years in college, I’ve learned that keeping up with these 5 things really help me maximize my time and reduce stress!