Getting it All Done: The Timing is Everything

By Sabrina Bong — During my freshman orientation, the dean of students gave a speech about the importance of time management. At the time, I believed that I could handle the rigors of college life. But as I got more and more involved in activities, and received more homework than I ever believed possible, I had to adjust my study habits. Though I still procrastinated (a lot), I learned how to use my free hours to study and get homework done.

And then I started grad school. And may I just say that while high school to college is a huge time management change, college to grad school is even greater?

This was definitely apparent this week, when I was bombarded with papers and readings.

It’s easy in grad school to get caught up in all the free time you have. Even if you have a job and work in the mornings, it is refreshing to have only one class a night. Instead of the usual class every other day, you get a whole week to do your reading for that class. A whole week. When I first heard that, it sounded amazing, as if someone had told me I had the entire year to read one chapter. But somehow, procrastination always manages to sneak in. It’s as if the length of time between each class promotes more Facebook posting, Twitter tweeting, and Youtube watching. (I still think that I could’ve majored in Facebook.) The other thing is that the tests and papers and projects are all more in-depth and a little more intense than undergrad. During my undergrad, I would think nothing of starting a paper the night before it was due. This time around, I can honestly say I started everything at least the weekend before.

I have received many tips about time management through the years, so I thought I would offer some of this advice to readers:

  1. Work ahead if possible. It always seems like there is a lot of time between assignments, especially between major papers and projects. But then there will be that one week where everything hits at once. If you work ahead in a few classes, you’ll be able to prevent a chaos-filled week.
  2. Get a calendar and write all your due dates down. This was the first piece of time management advice that I ever received in college, and it’s something I still do to this day. Having a calendar with all of the due dates for every paper, project, and test keeps me aware of what I have coming up. I also color-code the dates so that I can know what class the assignment is for quickly.
  3. Break assignments down into smaller chunks. For big projects and studying, I usually take out my planner and plan mini-due dates. I will split a project up into five parts, and then try to complete each part by that date. That way, I am not as stressed when the actual due date comes around!

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