How to find more hours in a day

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I’m not a magician (surprise!) and I’m also not immune to procrastination (in fact, it’s more of the opposite case). But after four years of this whole college thing  — which includes being involved in a lot of organizations and having multiple jobs at a time — I feel like I’ve gotten a pretty decent grasp on how to utilize my minimal available time to the best of my ability. That’s not easy; it takes a little bit of planning and a lot of self control.

If you’re in desperate need of more time, sit tight because I have a couple things for you to try out.

The first thing you most likely need to do to really understand how much time you aren’t optimizing is to write down what a basic day looks like. There are a lot of helpful charts you can print from the Internet, or you can just write it out yourself. This is the time to think about what you are doing during that hour break between your English and math class. How much time do you spend eating dinner in the cafeteria? When you see your entire hypothetical average day written down, you will be shocked at how much time is wasted or not used in the best way.

This will help you to realize that some of the things you are doing don’t actually require as much time as you allow them to use. As I mentioned, people get really caught up in spending a large amount of time in the cafeteria…sometimes even at every meal. Be aware of how long you are sitting after you are eating. Do you really need to use an hour or more? Probably not. The same goes for other things — like showering. I know we all love a good shower (or at least I hope so…) It can be difficult to get out sometimes and leave the warmth, but spending 45 minutes or just a half hour can be detrimental and wind up wasting a lot more time during your week than you imagined. Try to think about how long you spend doing these types of activities. From there, see if you truly need that long to complete them or if the amount of time can be minimized.

You are most likely stressed out about everything you need to accomplish most days. For some people, this is the push they need to start working on the tasks. For others, the only logical solution is to relax and try not to think about it. I’ve had that feeling, too, but you can’t give in to it or you most likely won’t get anything done ever. Try working for a set amount of time, say an hour or two. Then, when that time is up (and if you have completed a substantial amount of work/are satisfied) go ahead and relax – but not for too long. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the relaxation and not get back to work. Another good thing to do is to keep working until you feel like you can’t anymore. If you’re on a roll and are able to continue after an hour, by all means, do it. There’s no reason to take a break if you don’t need it. The more work you accomplish, the more time you will have later.

Make sure you are also getting enough sleep and trying to stay on a sleep schedule. That way you can wake up around the same time every day and accomplish more. Plus, you won’t feel the need to take a nap constantly.

Be aware of what time it is…almost all the time. When you let time slip away from you, you wind up feeling shocked and sometimes upset. But if you’re aware of what time it is and check back at the clock frequently, you’ll be more mindful and see when you are wasting time.

I’m not saying that there won’t be times when you need a lot of time to work on a project, study, or anything else. These things will obviously come up. But what you can do is stay ahead or at least on track of all assignments/readings/etc. so that when other things arrive that require a lot of attention, you aren’t drowning in work.

And remember, the whole point of maximizing your time isn’t necessarily so you can fill your now available time with more responsibilities. If that’s what you want to do, then more power to you. But if you’re in the same boat as me, you want to do this so that you can find time to relax and maybe even get a recommended amount of hours of sleep in. Crazy thought, right?

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