Happy New Year!!! Cue “Auld Lang Syne,” fireworks, confetti, and new year’s resolutions that hardly ever last a year, let alone the blistery month of January. It’s just too hard to keep up with healthy eating habits when we are back to dorm life, and the only groceries we can afford are Easy Mac and Aldi fruit snacks.
Don’t even get me started on that resolution to wake up at 5 AM before class and get a workout in every day. Sure, you might set your alarm to that loud-enough-to-wake-yourself-up-but-not-too-loud-that-your-roommate-hears-noise and you might even sleep in your workout clothes. But let me tell you, the second your alarm turns off and you look out your window to see blizzard outside, you will go right back to sleep.
Maybe I am just speaking for myself. I’m probably projecting my inability to follow through on a resolution during college on all of you. There are probably some hard core goal setters who thrive on resolutions and find beautiful ways to implement them out there. More power to ya! We all need a chance to reset. We all need a chance to start over. We all need a chance to try something different or new or just again. We all need a second chance–a do over.
As you unpack your bags, place your Easy Mac and Gatorade in their respective places and try to somehow wrestle your fitted sheet back on to your twin extra long bed (I can never figure out how to get the corners perfectly fitted) you might be thinking over the fall semester, Christmas break and looking ahead to spring wondering what changes you should make to ensure you are more successful, or efficient this semester. You think, “I know I need more sleep and I should probably start eating at least one piece of fruit every day but, what else…?”
Perhaps for many of you, this past fall was your first semester at college. Maybe not. But regardless, you find yourself wondering, “What the heck did I do with my time last semester? Why in the world did I spend until 2 in the morning playing video games when I had an exam the next day? I am putting SO much time into homework for this class, why isn’t it paying off? I feel like I didn’t have time for anything fun, what was I doing?” Maybe for you, stepping into 2019 means dropping some hurtful time management habits like it’s hot and picking up new ones.
Unlike my other failed resolutions to work out more and eat better, here you will find a short list of 3 tips and tricks that you might be able to implement this semester that might just help you find ways to manage time or cope with a busy schedule:
- Learn how to say “no”. I couldn’t stress this enough. Hope has a TON going on. There are no questions about that. But often, I think the glorification of busy-ness leads us to feel shame when we have even moments of free time, so we add more, or take on another commitment. Yes, be involved. Meet people. Go on that late night Steak-N-Shake run. But maybe that means you don’t have to agree to join another club or be the number one fan at all the sporting events. While it may feel like you are pleasing someone by saying yes, they will understand if they truly care about you. Being over-committed is not cool. Rather, having balance and a clear mind is what is cool, and truly sets you up to be as successful as you can when you aren’t running around like a chicken with your head cut off.
- Embrace the ebb and flow. College is challenging and busy and just difficult at times. Some weeks feel like they will never end and like you will never reach Friday. You might feel like you are overwhelmed to the brim and you just might scream if you have another paper to write. Other weeks (or days) might feel like you are two weeks ahead and now you are just killing time. So you might find yourself panicking because you feel like there might be something you are missing so you work ahead some more. But when you feel this way, STOP. Embrace the ebb and flow of the rhythms of college life. Not every minute of your time at Hope is supposed to be geared towards work. Plus, you need those breaks when your head can rise above water and you can finally breathe again (*sigh*). And those other weeks where you seem to be drowning? Just. Keep. Breathing. You can get through those weeks. Frida Kahlo once said, “At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.”
- Prioritize. You have probably heard this one before, but honestly, do it! Now is the time to try! Don’t leave your most difficult tasks to the end of your to-do list otherwise you might be in a time crunch while you are also trying to figure out how to do an assignment or painstaking task. If you have a few minutes between classes or a little bit of down time before dinner, do an easy/mindless task and then you have something to cross off! You can also prioritize individual tasks based on how much mental energy you can or are able to devote to something. If it is not necessary for you to get and A+++ on an assignment because you already have 110%, maybe devote less mental energy, shoot for a B. If you can get yourself to be okay with prioritizing mental energy to challenging tasks and get re-energized by the tasks you enjoy or that don’t take as much time, you might be able to find a better balance and have a much easier time prioritizing your work!
Now, these aren’t foolproof. But perhaps they are a bit more unconventional and maybe overlooked. Time management, I have found is so much about mindset. Perseverance and resilience can get you a long way. You can do this. And if you feel like you can’t, ask for help. In Res Life, we believe asking for help can get us a long way. Rely on one another. Rely on your RAs, your RDs, Hope College staff, faculty and administration. We’ve got your back.
But also remember, you don’t need an excuse of a new year’s resolution to set a goal or make a change. If something isn’t working, try something new. If that doesn’t work, try again tomorrow. It’s okay to start over and it’s okay to begin again.