I’ve noticed a lot of “college student self-help” articles around the web. They usually include tips like, “make sure you get plenty of sleep,” or “eat lots of fruits and veggies.” I’m sorry, but if you’re in college, that’s just not going to be practical most of the time. Sometimes, you’re just going to have to dig your heels in and literally just get through the million and six essays you have to write. I have just finished one of those weeks where I was so busy I would forget to eat for 36 hours, so here are some actually practical tips for the college students who WILL find themselves in the position where they are grossly overscheduled and barely have time to catch their breath.
1. Take the time to make a list.
I tend to take on a lot, both because I have a lot of interests and because I have to work a decent amount during the semester to keep up with tuition payments. Most of the time, I do a pretty good job of scheduling everything out so that everything lines up and none of my obligations overlap. However, it’s inevitable that if you’re balancing six different very important obligations, they will all crash into each other and engulf you at one point. When this happens, it will be tempting to try and take care of whatever obligation pops into your head, and brush off writing everything down because taking that time seems like a “waste of time.” This is not a waste of time. Believe me, writing everything down that you have to do as you remember it will save you from tearing your hair out later as you realized you forgot some super important thing.
2. Invest in healthy juices/smoothies.
These are the BEST thing to drink. They don’t necessarily take any preparation if you can just grab a NAKED juice as you dash out the door, and they give you the calories and energy you’ll miss when you have to skip yet another meal in order to get to that meeting you’re late for or that long practice you’re scheduled to be at.
3. Learn how to multitask.
Multitasking is not my favorite thing. As a general rule, I try to focus on one thing at a time when I have the time to indulge myself that way. However, if you’re at this point of no return, multitasking is the only way you’re going to survive. Learn how to do it effectively. For instance, if you have a class that’s mostly lecture based and you can take a laptop, knock out a set of short summary paragraphs in between copying down bullet points from the Powerpoint. The trick is to match up tasks that take about the same amount of brainpower, like basic notetaking that doesn’t require mentally engaging, and flipping through Quizlet flashcards at the same time. Obviously, you don’t want to do this for the majority of your life, but it’s super helpful in times of desperation.
4. Make sure to drink lots of water.
This is actually one of those “college self-help” tips that is very important. When you’re dehydrated, it feels a lot like you’re just sleep-exhausted, and that will lead to drinking caffeine that you don’t actually need. When you’ve overscheduled yourself, you’ll need everything going for you possible, and drinking tons of water will give you bonus brain points.
5. Sleep whenever you can.
I am one of those people who sacrifices her sleep first whenever I’m overscheduled. Some people can’t operate when they don’t get sleep, and obviously if you’re one of those people, don’t do that, but I’ve found that when you’re pressed for time, sleep is the most readily available time constraints to sacrifice. However, if you do this, make sure to catch naps whenever you can.
Of course, these are not long term solutions, and if you want to really get everything done that you need to, learn how to manage your time better. The other college-self-help articles will help you do that. But, once in a while you end up playing catch up because you were not a responsible adult, and hopefully these tips will help you at least appear like you have everything together when you are, in fact, totally losing it.