College can be extremely tough. To do well, you need to manage your time, your money, and your energy. You also need to be able to shift your focus quickly to manage all of your tasks. Finally, you need to maintain a healthy social life and have some fun!
Use A Timer
For many college students, keeping track of time is a huge challenge. To better manage this, use the timer on your phone to help you focus. If you have an hour to study before you have your next class or you have to go to work,
- set the timer for 55 minutes
- put it face down across the room from you
- study without worrying about being late
- when the timer goes off, move on to your next task
The Pomodoro Technique recommends 25 minutes as ideal, but you may have more or less time, so adjust as needed. The trick is to let nothing get between you and what you’re studying.
Before you go to bed, make sure you have your clothes set out for the next morning. Even if all you’re doing is showering and putting on leggings and a sweatshirt, don’t ask your brain to make decisions first thing in the morning. The morning brain is remarkably creative, so use it for other forms of thinking. Get in the habit of guarding your morning brain time. Create a breakfast schedule or just eat the same thing each day. If you need coffee or tea to get rolling, set up your life so all you have to do is push a button to get your caffeination rolling.
Protect your mornings by making smart decisions at night. This doesn’t mean you can’t get a little wild and crazy; college life is about stretching your boundaries. However, if you notice that every weekend leaves you feeling dragged out, exhausted and ill because you’ve over-imbibed, it’s time to sit down and take a look at your goals.
Study Things from All Angles
Are you a visual learner or an auditory learner? Consider recording lectures as well as taking notes, and if you can, use an academic transcription service so you can read the whole lecture after studying your notes, then go back and amend your notes.
If possible, take notes longhand. Will you capture everything? Of course not! However, the act of putting pen to paper changes how your brain captures and remembers what’s being said. You will be required to slow down. Your brain may make connections to other topics mentioned that you wouldn’t have made before. If your professor allows, record the lecture and listen again as you walk across campus or exercise.
Guard Your Health
Eat smart. You may be broke, but that doesn’t mean you have to live on foods with low nutritional value. Whole grain bread and crackers, eggs, and peanut butter can work for protein and energy, and produce in season can be a cost-effective way of getting your vitamins and minerals. Consider adding a fortified cereal to your daily diet to make sure you’re getting both energy and nutrients. If you mix it with yogurt, it can be portable and boost your calcium intake.
Carry and drink water during and between classes. Strive to do some weight-bearing exercise every day and try to stay away from high-carb, high-sodium foods that offer little nutritional value.
College is about focusing on yourself. Your future goals and current intellectual pursuits, your health, and your coming success. Keep your eyes on that target as you plan out your daily schedule.