Of course, college is primarily about getting an education, but these are also supposed to be the so-called "best years of our lives," and if you are anything like me, it takes very subtle convincing to put our responsibilities on hold to go out and have a good time with friends. After a semester in college, I think I've been able to identify a few things that help me to avoid my fear of missing out and still meet the high expectations that I set for myself academically.
1. Invest in a planner
Honestly, I don't know how I would survive without writing my every responsibility in my planner. At the beginning of every semester, I block off an hour or so to write down every single due date for all of my classes. Doing this prevents random assignments from popping up out of nowhere and allows me to map out my week and look ahead to see what to expect for the coming weeks.
2. Utilize the weekdays and time in between classes
If you want to spend most of your weekends having fun, it is absolutely vital to use every minute of your free time during the week to knock out all of your upcoming assignments. No matter how loudly your bed is calling your name during that awkward 2-hour break between classes, resist the temptation and spend it being productive and getting ahead of your workload.
3. Don't procrastinate!
While it can be difficult to convince yourself to do an assignment a week in advance, you'll thank yourself later when you aren't scrambling to finish your Chemistry homework on Friday night 30 minutes before the 11:59 due date when you'd rather be doing just about anything else.
4. Identify the best study setting for you
Whether it be a silent study room or the middle of Starbucks, identify what setting allows you to be the most productive. Staying focused allows you to get more done in a shorter period of time, giving you more free time in the long run.
5. Limit your distractions
If you want to spend a decent amount of time away from school, efficiency is key. Putting your phone away and closing your online shopping tabs for an hour while doing your homework or studying is much better than half-focusing for double the time and not getting as much accomplished.
6. Set realistic goals for yourself and reward yourself for accomplishing them
Having a to-do list for the day can help you stay on track with your assignments and crossing things off can give you a sense of accomplishment. I also like to give myself some motivation to get everything I have planned done, such as telling myself if I finish writing an essay tonight, I will have time to go to the basketball game tomorrow.
7. Keep up with your course work
Most college exams cover a decently broad time span, so staying on top of your studying as you learn new information can be beneficial for retention and save you time. For example, soon after a lecture, I like to make flashcards so I don't have to pull an all-nighter in the library the day before an exam making my study materials.
8. Make friends that you can study with
Even if you are a professional at time management, there will still probably be some nights that you'll have to sacrifice having fun for a homework night. Making friends that you can study with can make these nights a little less painful because you can socialize and be productive simultaneously.
9. Don't forget to take care of yourself
College is always going to be extremely busy and there will always be things to get done. Although the occasional all-nighter before an exam or substitution of a meal for coffee may be necessary, don't let these things become a habit. If you don't take care of yourself you'll likely end up even more stressed out. Sometimes, you just have to chill and do a face mask.
10. Decide what is most important to you
Missing one night out that probably won't live up to your expectations is probably worth getting an A on your exam, but missing one homework assignment to tailgate the biggest game of the year probably isn't the end of the world either. Decide what is most important to you while keeping potential consequences and your goals in mind.