Staying productive in college is definitely a challenge, especially if you’re a freshman. You are given so much free time in between your classes and you’re completely in charge of your schedule. How you spend your time is also completely up to you, and if you’re anything like me, using that time productively can also be a struggle. Sometimes all you want to do is curl up and watch Netflix, even when you have impending due dates hanging over your shoulder. For me, I start lacking motivation when I am extremely stressed.
For some reason, when my stress levels rise, my motivation decreases, and that’s because I don’t want to deal with whatever may be stressing me out. Combating stress is definitely a skill that I have not mastered, and I am constantly stressed out, but I have learned that organizing myself each week takes away some of that stress for me. This brings me to my first tip: Investing in a Planner. I love to plan out every little bit of my life on a weekly basis. Every Sunday I make sure to open up my planner, look at my syllabi and work schedule, and make sure to write everything down. Even though I’m not actively working on my homework, it relieves the stress of not knowing what I have going on for the week and when I’ll have free time. Even planning out how to use my free time helps me stay on track for the week so I don’t fall behind.
When it comes to writing big term papers or studying for finals, I really start to procrastinate. Why would I want to put myself through the torture of writing a 10 page paper or studying for hours in the library for a huge exam? I used to have a horrible habit of leaving everything for the night before, and I used to claim that it worked for me because I “work well under pressure," but that’s blatantly not true. I know that if I had started the paper a little earlier and took my time outlining everything, I probably would’ve received a better grade. The same idea applies to studying; if I had spread out a little bit of work for each night a week before the exam, I would’ve been more prepared for the test. This brings me to another tip: Spread Out Your Work to Reduce Risk of Explosion. Everyone procrastinates, and that’s okay, but sometimes you have to fight that urge to put things off and just get it done. It’ll be more rewarding for you and I’m sure your professors would appreciate the fact that you put so much effort into your work.
Throughout this article, I’ve been emphasizing the fact that your free time in college really needs to be used in the most productive ways possible. Time management and organizational skills will definitely help reduce your high levels of stress. However, amidst all of the good productive work you’re doing, try to remember to take a well deserved break afterward. Reward yourself for all the writing you’ve been doing on that paper, or for the hours of studying you’ve done for that one test. Pause for a second, and take thirty minutes to watch an episode of Friends or The Office. Even after writing just a paragraph or two, reward yourself by eating a piece of your favorite candy. I promise you, you’ll actually find that it helps you to be more productive and it will increase your motivation. Don’t go crazy trying to fill all of your time up with school work because you’ll lose your happiness and your sanity.