Biology and life sciences in general require a lot of time to understand the material. It doesn’t take long to realize how complex the human body is. Time management is not that complicated, I promise. Here are a couple tips that I use to help me stay on track.
Make a schedule or calendar
While I could spend all my free time doing biology or chemistry homework, I don’t because that really isn’t appealing to me and wouldn’t be a good use of my time. Spending too much time on any subject is generally not a good thing. This is why I make calendars of my schedule. I’m always tempted to stay a few extra minutes at the dining hall with friends or to work on easy homework that isn’t as necessary to complete instead of the grind work for other classes like biology. Because of this, I tend to make daily schedules that help me get a realistic idea of what I can accomplish in one day and force me to work on those things that I typically dread. I put in general things like wakeup and getting ready time, breakfast, classes, and then clubs. After, I put in specifics like reading a chapter in my biology textbook or doing some chemistry problems, keeping in mind how long it usually takes me to do these things.
When I first started making daily schedules, I noticed that the amount of time I put in for work left no time for meeting and hanging out with friends and other important things like planning for study abroad and keeping in touch with family. It’s important to leave time for friends, family, and even yourself, because those things provide balance and support to college life. It’s easy to burn out if all of one’s time is devoted to just one thing. On the other hand, they should never take up all of your time, because academics are important to keeping yourself on track to your future, maintaining your financial aid (i.e., scholarships), and basically keeping you in college (kind of a big deal).
With that said, there are so many ways to make a schedule so you can avoid the dangers of excess and enjoy the advantages of moderation. Daily, weekly, and monthly schedules are all great ways to plan your time. Whether you write them out with a pen and paper, use your phone, or save them on your computer, it’s important to keep them all in one convenient place. It makes the habit of schedule keeping that much easier to continue.
Say no to friends
The hardest part of time management always comes when other people try to draw us away from the work we know we should be doing. It comes in various forms, whether it’s a text asking to get food at the dining hall, or an unexpected invitation to watch a movie in the lounge. Sometimes it can be hard to deny friends in favor of working on an essay due the next day. I usually find it’s easier to say no when the assignment is closer and the likelihood of sleep is somewhere between slim and none. When it’s crunch time, work needs to come first. Look at your schedule to see if you have enough time to get everything done and still hang out with friends. Don’t say yes to hanging out unless your time allows or you’re willing to sacrifice sleep.
Focus on work when working
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous tip. There are two reasons it’s better to work on work alone and to be with friends while with friends. Firstly, I know that when I’m with friends, I cannot focus on anything except the conversation. If I try working, nothing gets done. Secondly, if I’m working while with friends, I can’t be fully involved in the conversation because I’m trying to get things done. It’s much better to be completely involved in one activity or the other and to keep work and play separate. Learning to do that saved me so much time in general because I wasn’t spending hours on work that should take half as much time as I was spending.
Of course, how you work is totally up to you and depends on your learning style, but consider changing up your habits if you consistently find yourself running out of time and staying up too late. The beauty of college is how much discovering and learning is done in these few short years. It’s your decision how you spend your time, and it’s up to you to learn what works best for you.