Learning better time management skills in college

Megan PeoplesIt was said so many times during Orientation Week, always becoming ever more creative in its delivery. It was hammered into my skull through the sheer force of repetition, over and over again, explained and re-explained. Finally, I understand why.

Time management: If only all those courses and seminars had made an impact, hadn’t been followed by a dismissive “duh” or a “Now I see” or foolishly-optimistic, “Yeah, I got it,” then perhaps I wouldn’t be writing this article an hour before the deadline.

Yes, what they say is true, kids: University really isn’t like high school. They fool you in those first few weeks, make you believe that you’re going to be okay by cushioning your fall into this new and intimidating environment. And then suddenly, without warning, a switch is flipped and all hell breaks loose (I believe they refer to it colloquially as “midterms”).

I’m no longer sure what my expectations for college were (though that may just be because I’m on my third cup of coffee), but I now realize that they were tainted with the self-assured ignorance of youth. I no longer believe that being uncaffeinated and getting good grades are mutually exclusive (again, third cup). I can vaguely recall the days where I spent entire afternoons doing nothing (crazy, right?), devoting myself to the holy words of the Real Housewives of New Jersey or the infallible wisdom of Honey Boo Boo.

LOGAN INGALLS/ CC-BY-2.0 At Hopkins, you’re never without a book to read or a problem set to do.

LOGAN INGALLS/ CC-BY-2.0
At Hopkins, you’re never without a book to read or a problem set to do.

Instead I’ve been spending day after day locked in my room with only the somber calls of my 9 a.m. dragging me from my dark den (and even then, sometimes they’re not enough). Each homework-packed weekend seems like a hollow reward.

Every small respite, that one-episode guilty pleasure habit I’ve created for myself, chips away at that grade which has already suffered a minor blow due to poor class attendance (I swear it’s my alarm clock…). More than ever I understand the wistfulness that upperclassmen have when they speak about covered grades, the words always seeming to slip out in hushed tones of longing.

As this day comes to a close I can only pause and wonder where the time went. I’m not exactly sure what god I’ve angered or which magical cult I mistakenly insulted, but somehow I seem to be doing very little work yet taking egregiously long hours to do so. I’d never realized before just how much of a Sunday can be taken up by calculus homework or how long it truly takes to properly revise an essay. Lately I’ve been trying my absolute hardest to stop looking at clocks since every time I do so it seems at least an hour has gone by and yet somehow nothing has been accomplished.

My routine is turning more and more into a desperate scramble to keep up. Occasionally I hear a passing conversation about how they’ve used their weekend “responsibly” (pft, nerds) and have been able to get ahead on their class work. You should always step aside for these people in the hallways as they are clearly some sort of higher species.

But, dear reader, please do not be too disheartened, there is still hope for me. As the weeks wear on and Thanksgiving break seems more and more like a false salvation concocted by the Office of Student Affairs, I am beginning to learn how to survive here. Though it didn’t quite take in O-week, it’s finally starting to stick; All I really need to do is to manage my time better. Time management is, more than anything else, the most important tool in the utility belt of a recovering high school student.

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