It’s nearly midnight and you’re finally crawling into bed. You made it to all of your classes on time (even your 8 a.m. lecture), and survived the another long shift at work. You dim the lights, settle under the covers, when it hits you– you have a paper due in the morning.
If you can relate to any of that, congratulations, you’re in college. These are supposed to be the best years of your life and while there is some truth to that statement, there’s also quite a bit of stress involved. But fret not, fellow students, as I’ve compiled a five-step process in which you can stay organized, but still make some time for yourself during your time of higher education.
1. Budget Yourself
It’s easier said than done, believe me, but it’s certainly doable and a valuable skill. For example, as a server, I get my money in cash every night, so I keep a selected amount in my wallet for the week and deposit the rest into my checking account to pay bills. After going over what I need, I’ll move some of the extra into savings. Of course you need to keep some for entertainment and food, but don’t overdo it. In fact, set a weekly budget there as well. $50 or so. Now that’s just me. Not everyone is going to get paid the same way and budgets will vary, but you get the idea.
2. Keep A Planner
Always make sure to write down your assignments, work schedule and planned outings in a designated area. It doesn’t need to be anything specific; a dry erase calendar or a notebook will do. I wouldn’t recommend using a phone or tablet. Physically writing things down will hardwire your brain in a way the phone will not, but that’s just my opinion. If you’re using your phone and it’s working for you, don’t let me change your mind.
3. Stay Social
While it’s true the number of hours in a day are severely limited, scheduling some time to enjoy your comrade’s company will go a long way. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. Meet up at the movies, have a drink after work or just have lunch on campus if your class schedules work out. Not to mention your friends will more than likely be looking for the same relief you are, so spending time together can be quite therapeutic. Once a week if possible is recommended.
4. Know Your Limits
Sure it’s tempting to pick up that extra shift to make a little extra dough, or to do that extra credit project that will guarantee you an A+ instead of an A-, but sometimes it’s necessary just to let those things go. If it’s Saturday night and you find yourself free, enjoy it. Instead of worrying about work and checking your school assignments just to be safe, use that time to recharge your brain. Call a friend, binge Netflix, take a walk or do anything that will benefit your mental health. Even if that means taking a nap.
5. Keep Perspective
Make no mistake, your education is important. Keep your eyes on the future and know that you’re working towards a better life for yourself. Through all the sleepless nights and thankless jobs, you’ll come out of everything a stronger person for it. Enjoy the time while you can and never forget your goals.