Blog of the Peer Advising Leadership Program, College of Natural Resources, UC Berkeley

September 25, 2006 8:48 PM

Time Management – An Essential Skill

As most students out there, when I came to Cal I did not really know what to expect. I thought I did a pretty good job staying on top of my work in high school and maintaining a good balance. However, college (especially a top/competitive university like UC Berkeley), is very different from high school. Learning the skill of time management in college is essential and will continue to play an important role in the rest of our lives.

When I began my first semester here, I easily became stressed over the work load I was faced with and frequently would call my mom nearly in tears saying, “I don’t know if I can do this?!” She would do her best to calm me down and assure me that if this was something I really wanted (and it was/is) then I could do it. So whenever you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, just remember all your hard work will pay off in the end. Doing this always helps motivate me.

What I found to really help de-stress me is to work on time management. If you follow these seven easy steps, I guarantee you will be a lot more productive with your time.
1. Make a list of everything you have/want to do.
2. Prioritize your items by what is most essential or what is due first.
- Priorities may differ from one individual to the next. However, major priorities are things like studying for midterms/finals or completing homework/projects/labs/papers on time. It is important to stay on top of your reading, but it may not need such a large chunk of time as you might think. Try squeezing reading in between classes, on the bus or Bart (if you don’t get car sick), at the gym, while you have some down time, etc. I always carry some form of reading or studying material on me just in case I find some extra time for it.
3. Use your planner! Write down your goals: what you want to accomplish on a certain day, you can even break it down hour by hour. Also, make sure you write down all important dates, i.e. midterms, lab/paper/project due dates, finals, etc., so they don’t sneak up on you.
4. Find what works best for you. What time of the day are you most focused and efficient? For example, I have a hard time studying at night. So instead of staying up super late getting work done and sleeping in the next day (like my housemates) I go to bed early and wake up early because I know I work much better during the day after a good nights’ rest.
5. Knowledge is power. Talk to your peers who have already taken the class you are taking and ask them for advice about how to do well in the course. Also, once you have taken your first midterm or turned in your first lab report you should get a better idea about what is expected of you. If lecture material, not reading, is the main focus of the exams, allocate your time appropriately.
6. Make sure you have “you” time. Everyone needs down time and a little fun to de-stress, so don’t overwork yourself. Whether it’s making time to watch your favorite T.V. show, going to the gym, catching up with your friends, going to the movies, shopping, going to Cal sporting events, it doesn’t matter, just make sure you have time to do what will make you happy.
7. Make sure you get enough sleep. The amount of sleep one needs varies, but if you don’t get the amount of sleep you need, you could get sick or run down and then you really wouldn’t be efficient with your time. When I start to feel really tired or run down, I make sure to get some rest because I know I won’t get much done if I continue to do work.

The bottom line is time management comes with experience. It is a process of trial and error and finding what works best for you. College may be a high stress time, but whenever I find myself stressing over the little things I look at the big picture. Do we realize how lucky we are to be students at UC Berkeley?! So many people would love to be in our shoes because it is such an amazing opportunity. Time management is a skill we can prefect during college so that we can make the rest of our lives go a little more smoothly. I urge you to try one of my tips today! :)


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