While it might not always feel this way, for most of you, you’ll have more time on your hands im college than you ever have before or ever will again.
As a starting point, you need to realize that you have a LOT of time on your hands in college.
A “LOT” probably doesn’t even do it justice. An unbelievable amount or a ridiculous amount may be more accurate. If you get eight hours of sleep a night (unlikely), that will give you 16 hours a day to work with! If you get a more typical six hours, you’ll have 18 hours a day to work with. That’s a tremendous amount of time.
Not to get overly technical, but 18 hours a day is 126 hours a week.
If you’re taking a typical 16 hours a week of classes, that leaves 110 hours to study, work, volunteer, pursue extracurricular activities, have ridiculous amounts of fun, and take care of life’s necessities (like eating, laundry, etc.). Even if you decide that every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 6 p.m. on will be fully dedicated to fun, you still have over 80 hours left.
Just in case you’re not convinced, let’s look at it another way. In high school, you probably left the house at 7 a.m. and did not get home until 4 p.m. or later. If you did that five days a week, you put in 45 hours a week. If you’re taking a full course load in college, you’re taking 16 hours of classes.
Even if you add travel time to/from classes, extracurricular or volunteer activities, and/or a part-time job to the mix, most people have a LOT more time on their hands in college than they did in high school.
So, while it might not always feel this way, for most of you, you’ll have more time on your hands than you ever have before or ever will again.
Some thoughts on how to manage that time.
First, schedule early classes.
Eight o’clock classes if you can get up easily, nine o’clock if you can’t. They will force you to get out of bed at a reasonable time, not unlike you did in high school (or what your future employer will expect from you). You’d be amazed at how easy it is to sleep ’til 10:30 a.m. if your first class starts at 11 a.m. If you don’t think you can consistently make 8 a.m. classes (although you really ought to be able to), go for classes at 9 a.m. Even I could make it to a 9 a.m. class. You can too.
And, of course, when you schedule these early classes, go to them – every day!
Second, study between classes.
Often you’ll have an hour or two to kill between classes. Go to the library and put those hours to work for you. It’s amazing the number of ways that people waste time between classes. With all of the portable electronics at your disposal, you can waste time from virtually anywhere! Get into the routine of making valuable use of these time slots. It’s not that tough. And realistically, there aren’t that many amazing things you can be doing from 10 a.m. to noon on a Tuesday morning so you won’t be missing much.
Third, study after class before dinner.
This seems rather obvious, but you’d be blown away at how many college students spend their afternoons watching ESPN, soap operas and reruns of bad TV shows. It’s incredible. They’ll sit there for most of the day for weeks at a time. Spending hours a day on social networking sites or texting would also not classify as brilliant time management. If you tracked how many hours you spend per week in front of a computer screen doing non-essential things (things other than homework, research, etc), my bet is that it would be at least 15 hours per week – and for many of you 20+.
By the way, studying in front of the TV – trying to have fun and study all at once – does not make you a time management wizard. You’ll get little or nothing from the studying and miss about half of the show. It’s the epitome of bad time management.
Fourth, when you study, FOCUS.
Make it quality study time, not social time. Study in a quiet environment and at a high level of intensity. Personally, I wouldn’t even listen to music unless it’s purely instrumental (i.e. no lyrics), and you’re doing it to drown out some background noise. If you maximize the quality of the study time, you can minimize the quantity of time needed to get the job done. More on that later.
In general, make the most of extra hours available to you during the day. During the day, the temptations not to study are fewer and much less exciting and this approach will free up your evenings for extracurriculars and more legitimate fun.
Here’s one more simple calculation. If you take 16 hours a week of classes starting at 9 a.m. each day, take an hour lunch, go to the library between and after classes, and finish at 5 p.m. and spent an hour getting from place to place during the day, you’ll have put in 19 hours at the library in a week. That is a tremendous amount of study time on a week-in week-out basis. If you start at 8 a.m. and spend only a half an hour on lunch, you’ll have put in over 25 hours of study time. Welcome to the Dean’s List!
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