Freshman 15: Tips for Managing Your Workload


One of the biggest changes from high school to college was the lack of day-to-day structure. In high school I woke up in the morning, went to school and then to my extra circulars. In the evening, I completed my homework or studied for the next day's tests, and went to bed knowing that tomorrow would look nearly the same. I treated my first semester of college a similar way: I went to classes during the day and did any schoolwork at night. I touched on this in this post, but I didn't immediately anticipate that I needed to adapt my own schedule and I had far too many late nights since I waited until the evening to start on my homework.

sweatshirt (c/o) | backpack (c/o)

During second semester, I overhauled my routine to help me be more productive in the day. Changing my approach to productivity also helped me stay on top of my schoolwork better, which was key for finding a balance between school and a social life. It is very easy to let freshman year get away from you and have your social life dominate your time. But, freshman year sets the precedent for the rest of your time in college and staying on top of schoolwork is one of the best ways to ensure your freshman year goes well. While it took a little bit of learning and adjustment, here are some of the ways I was able to have a successful and productive school year:

Find a Study Spot (or three!)
Having a few spots where you like to study is key. For me, this is a place that is preferably quiet, open late and where I won't be distracted too easily. It took me a little time to figure out which spots I liked best and I am always looking and still finding new places. I think it's really important to find a few places on campus where you can maximize productivity. I also know I like to change my study spots throughout the day. Usually during the day or between classes I would spend time studying at Starbucks but would switch to the library after dinner. Having a few spots where I knew I could be productive helped kickstart my study sessions and multiple locations prevented it from getting monotonous.

Schedule Your Day
As I mentioned earlier, one of the biggest adjustments coming to college for me was the lack of structure in my day. In college, sure I have classes every day, but my classes change depending on the day of the week. I have meetings that vary and my to-do list changes on a day-to-day basis. This was a difficult transition, but I found scheduling out my days hour-by-hour the night before helped me see where I needed to be when and allowed me to find time to knock tasks off my to-do list in between events. Since my days in high school almost always looked the same there was never the need for this type of scheduling, but my college days are much more productive because of it. I switched out my tried and true Lilly Pulitzer agenda for a Day Designer due to its more detailed layout. This may be a little more detailed than what everyone needs, but regardless of your scheduling preferences I highly recommend utilizing an agenda of some sort to map out your days and weeks to ensure no assignment or commitment is forgotten.

Don't Procrastinate
So much easier said than done. Because I did not have each class every day of the week, it was easy to say, "Oh, I still have [this much time] to get it done." This mindset can really come back to bite you. I had so much more free time in college because I was not in school for eight hours each day. But, this time still needed to be put toward schoolwork. I wrote about this in an earlier post, but I eventually learned that using this free time to study or work on assignments was a much better lifestyle than relaxing all day, leaving schoolwork to the evening and then going to bed late. By staying on top of assignments, not only do you allow yourself more time to work on and review your work, but you can enjoy free time without the impending stress of needing to get something done.

Plan Ahead
This goes along with not procrastinating, but planning ahead is key for managing multiple classes, organizations and a social life. If I knew I had a date party on Thursday, I would make sure to get any assignments due Friday done prior to Thursday or before I went out. The last thing I wanted to do was complete an assignment when I got home, and I wouldn't sacrifice my schoolwork for going out. In order to have a good balance between school and social life, planning ahead is key. Both were important parts of my freshman year, so this required me to plan ahead during the week to ensure I allotted time for both.

Incorporate Breaks and Time with Friends
Some of my favorite memories from my freshman year include heading to Wendy's at 11 p.m. with friends for frosties and fries or going to our favorite ice cream shop after dinner. These much needed study breaks and social time did not last too long and allowed me to fill up on both food and time with my friends. While it is obviously important to not take too many study breaks, these short outings were a welcome break from the library. Spending long, consecutive amounts of time can be difficult for maintaining focus and productivity. Don't be afraid to say yes to these spontaneous trips, but also make sure they aren't too frequent.

Do you have recommendations on staying on top of school work?


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