In the midst of all our “smart” technology to help manage our rat-race schedules, Americans all seem to be lacking a valuable commodity: time. As a college student, you can either establish your place amid the myriad or set the standard now to get a better handle on the natural resource many of your peers will squander.
1. Determine to be diligent.
At the root at many of our time-squandering issues is a natural propensity for laziness. We’re all prone to find excuses and procrastinate rather than being industrious. Anne Frank, who never lived to see her college days, wrote this: “Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction.” You know it’s true, too, don’t you? I mean, when you show up with that presentation polished and ready to go, you feel good about yourself, right? And everyone can tell that you’re prepared. When you’re tempted to slack off, remember that feeling of accomplishment—along with the approval and high marks your hard work earned for you.
Tip: Perhaps posting inspirational quotes or reminders around your dorm room or as wallpaper for your laptop will help you stay the course.
2. Set realistic goals and limits.
Sometimes, your goals may be achievement-oriented, such as “study until I know it without looking” or “tweak it until it’s absolutely perfect,” but other times your goals will be time-oriented. Personally, I find these kinds of goals to be more attainable and more likely to encourage diligence and produce valuable results. If I know I have only 3 hours set aside to write an essay, I know that I can’t afford the time to click over to Facebook or my e-mail account.
Sitting down for 3 hours, straight, is probably unrealistic, though. Instead, break it up into 30- or 45-minute chunks of time, perhaps setting an achievement-oriented goal for each segment. That time frame needs to be reserved, devoted, sacred: no texting, surfing, or even checking the time. Just work. Then, after each time segment, give yourself 5 minutes to connect with friends, walk around, relax, or get a snack.
Tip: My favorite tool to help me with this is the Tick Tock Timer. I set it for 30 minutes and work until I hear the “gong.” Then I’ll set it for 5 to time my break.
3. Reward yourself.
Incentives can be powerful. I once heard that “an adult is one who parents himself.” Most of us received some kind of praise or prize for fulfilling our responsibilities at home. We got allowances for doing chores at home and stickers or other trinkets for doing well at school. Our parents and teachers knew we needed that extra impetus to do what we should really have been doing, all along. Well, don’t we know ourselves at least that well? Choose something you like to do, and make yourself earn it, for a change; you’ll probably enjoy it even more.
Tip: Ask a friend to keep you honest: If you don’t complete your goal, you won’t reward yourself.