As a college student, you have a pretty warped sense of time. Think about it. You live in a community amongst your fellow students and your life pretty much revolves around studies and extracurricular activities. When you go back home for thanksgiving break, you can’t believe that it’s been 13 weeks since you’ve been home.
To my endless frustration, there are periods when I feel like I’ve spent the entire day going to classes, eating and attending club meetings. I wonder if I’m the only one amongst my friends who has completely forgotten about working out or hunkering down at the library.
I think that one of the hardest things about college life is separating work and play. You don’t really want to associate college with some of the less exciting things, but that’s how it has to be. I really struggled as a freshman to achieve a good balance of studying and going out with my friends or hitting the soccer field.
If you’re struggling with feeling like you don’t have the time to do all of the things you want, take some time to step back and re-evaluate what your daily priorities are.
For example, if you’re taking a nap at least once a day because otherwise you’ll fall asleep in class, ask yourself if there isn’t an easier way to make sure that you’re well rested. Even if you only sleep for half an hour, there’s a ritual that is involved with preparing and then waking up from a nap.
I usually lose about an hour for every half an hour “nap” that I plan — and that usually makes me more stressed out about trying to force that nap time into my schedule. I’d say that if you’re one more lecture from falling sideways out of your chair, try regularly going to sleep a little earlier the night before. Your body will thank you for it.
Other ways your body will thank you? How about making exercise a regular part of your routine, not a nuisance that you deal with every once in a while. Trust me, I know from experience that finals week is not the best time to become an exercise fanatic. You just won’t get that much out of your workout if you don’t know what your limits are and what it takes for you to feel like you’ve gotten a great workout.
My suggestion is to consider starting out your day with a workout or hitting the gym as soon as your classes are done. If you head to the gym anywhere from mid-afternoon to late evening, you have to compete with the rush of students, so you waste time just waiting for something to become available. Plus, if you don’t work out at least three hours before you hit the hay, you might have trouble falling asleep because your heart has been pumping so fast.
You never want to have trouble falling asleep because you’re worried about an upcoming exam or deadline. We’re in college, so we’ve got to make time to study, but that sometimes gets overlooked completely when we’re rushing from one end of campus to the other. Learn how, when and where you study best, AND STICK TO IT.
For example, I know that I need absolute quiet space to work, so the third floor of Earl Gregg Swem Library is where I go when I need to crank out a paper. I also know that Swem tends to fill up pretty quickly beginning in the late afternoon, so I try to study in the early morning or early afternoon, after I’ve gotten lunch or a quick snack.
All of these are important things to consider, but the most important thing that you need to think about when you begin the academic semester is whether you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. College should be about trying new things and pushing your comfort zone — but don’t feel like you’re stretching yourself too thin. Sometimes, you need to remember to make sure that you’ve got enough time to just relax. If you’ve penciled in every half an hour of your day, that’s probably going to backfire at some point.
These are all just suggestions. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you consider to be important to you and what you don’t. Make sure to take care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally when you’re at college. Only you can decide what your limits are — so don’t let anyone else test them for you.