There’s way more to being a student than just going to class. Many of my peers and even my students work regular jobs, have families all the while trying to maintain some semblance of a social life. While I think that a ‘work-life’ balance is a bit of an illusion, there are ways that we can manage time so that we can do a combination of what we need to do and also what we like to do. Here are my top 5 tips for saving time. Let me know if you have any to add.
1. Take notes on everything
Admittedly, I have a very type A personality, but taking notes on course readings has really been a godsend. When I take notes, especially by hand, it’s a great way for me to process the information as I’m reading. If my notes are typed, it’s really easy to do a quick search and find key words or theories that might be relevant for a future paper. An extra perk is that I’ve also been able to share my notes with classmates who might be short on time. It’s always nice to make an investment on positive karma.
2. Take advantage of your flexible schedule
While much of the world is stuck working 8 hour shifts, if not worse, take advantage of the freedom that academia affords you. I sometimes feel awkward about doing my grocery shopping on Friday mornings when it seems like other people are at their ‘real’ jobs, but this approach will save you time in the long run. It takes me 30 minutes to shop during the week, but if I were to go on Saturday morning when everyone else is rushing to do their weekend errands, I’d easily spend an hour trying to shop –and would be super annoyed on top of that.
3. Prep your meals in advance
This one is tricky because you have to block of anywhere from 1-3 hours to make your meals; however, it’s worth it. I have so much peace of mind knowing that I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat every day of the week. Even if you are only able to prep for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, that’s better than nothing. Meal prep’ also saves lots of money that I would otherwise spend on Chipotle or Chop’t.
4. Make a schedule
There’s no better way to take advantage of the time you have than to manage it accordingly. I prefer using a spiral bound planner whereas other people prefer Google calendar. The most important part is to figure out what works best for you through trial and error and then stick to it.
5. Take a break
I can’t tell you how annoyed I am by people who purport to be constantly busy and inundated with work. No. You, like other people, I have to limit my social interactions with, feel pressured to appear busy 24/7 because we are socialized to judge ourselves by our productivity. There have been times when I’ve tried to ‘go hard’ but did nothing more than spend hours staring at a computer screen getting nothing accomplished. I find that taking a break to go to dance class, watch ‘This is Us,’ or even just walk around the block refreshes my mind to the point that when I do come back to my work, I have way more clarity. Breaking is productive and will save you time in the long run.
This is just a short list that is definitely not conclusive, what works for you all?