September 22, 2006 9:19 AM
Taming Your Time
Here at Berkeley, effective time management is key to success. There's never a shortage of things to do--if classes aren't keeping you completely occupied, there are student organizations to get involved in, and the whole Bay Area to explore during your free time. The way in which you organize your daily routine has a great effect on how much you get accomplished, and how frustrated or composed you'll be come "midterm season."
What I've found to be most effective is coming up with a general idea of what I should accomplish every day. After factoring the time you spend in classes and extracurricular activities, divide up your remaining time between homework/studying and "hanging out." For example, after a day of class, I'm assigned two chapters of reading and homework on biochemistry, and an English paper that's due next week. My goal tonight will be to finish one chapter of biochem, come up with a decent thesis for my paper, and to fit in some studying for a bio midterm I have next week. At the end of the day, go over what you've done and haven't finished, and plan what your next day's schedule will include.
Planning your schedule is one thing; carrying it out is another. Being able to concentrate and focus on the task you're doing will allow you to complete your study sessions much faster. As you've probably already realized, the dorms and apartments do not always provide the best study environment. For many, the library is the best alternative, since its quiet (and the fact that everyone around you is studying may motivate you to concentrate more:). However, some find the quiteness to be unnerving and the no-food policy annoying. Cafes can serve as an alternative; after all, food and conversation are allowed. It's best to "shop around" for the study environment you like best. You can also alternate amongst different study spots, as you'll likely get tired of just going to one of 'em.
Some like studying alone; others in groups. Study groups can be VERY helpful, and professors often encourage them. As you get settled in your classses, you'll likely find classmates that you get along with. Studying together allows each of you to bounce ideas off of one another, and also can lessen the tedium of going through those textbooks. However, study groups can evolve into simply a social gathering where nothing gets accomplished. When you get together with friends, make sure studying actually gets done, then hang out afterwards.
For both new and upper div students, there's always the concern that extracurricular activities are hampering our academics. Just how much time are we supposed to devote to activities? Well, it depends very much on your courseload and the amount of time your activities require. Keep in mind that while it's very important you get involved at Cal, activities can take up A LOT of time. As a result, it's wise to get involved in two to three clubs/organizations rather than spreading yourself thin over six or seven. Keep in mind that regardless of your major or career goals, academics should take precedence over activities, as your time here leads to a degree that represents all the coursework you've done here at Cal.
Hope some of this twosense helps. If you have any further questions, feel free to e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop by my office hours Wednesdays and Fridays 9-10AM located in the computer room in 260 Mulford.
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