Secret formula for time management

I am UIC logoMike Queroz, a senior in communication, shares his experiences each week about what it’s like to be a UIC student. Read a new update every weekday from our five “I Am UIC” bloggers.

By Mike Queroz

Throughout my college career, I have worn a lot of hats — student, intern, employee, student government leader and more.

My first two years, I really struggled with time management. I’ve had all of these different roles, but could not find a proper balance in which I can enjoy myself as well. However, once junior year came around, I was finally able to learn how to juggle many things.

Why am I saying this? Simply because I notice how many students feel so stressed out about the various things they have on their plate. Sometimes, they are like this all four years. So I’ve recently asked myself, how did I learn time management?

Here’s my secret formula:

Dedicated time: Junior year, I started dedicating specific times for specific things. For example, if I had student government work to do, I would make sure that during my office hours, I did all of the work I needed — and I stuck to it. If I had student government work, then I made sure I did it during that time and at no other.

Similarly, if I had homework to do, I made sure I did it during preset times throughout the week. I spread my homework out throughout the week so that I can accomplish more in little time.

If I set two hours for doing my communication readings, then I made sure I did it during those two hours. Even though I knew I had more stuff to do, I learned not to worry about them until the time I had allotted for it.

Turn off my mind and my device: I learned in the past year how to turn off my mind.

Yes, I have lots of stuff to do at all times. However, this is life and I accepted it. So, if I had set time for relaxation, then I told myself to do just that. Instead of watching a movie and worrying about the many chapters I have to read for my management book, I just enjoyed my movie and kept the worries saved for when I had to read the book.

This goes along with turning off my cellphone or other devices. I am typically addicted to them. But I learned how to put my phone away. During homework time or when I was at my internship, I put my phone in my bag and kept it there for hours and practiced patience until the time I said I could look at it.

Overall, turning off your mind or devices requires a little practice and patience – once you master that, your stress levels will drop significantly.

To-do lists: I would be lost without my Reminders app on my iPhone. I keep track of everything I have to do at school, my internship, Undergraduate Student Government or anything else in life. I set timed reminders as well to let me know when I have to do them. Keeping a to-do list, whether on a phone or a notebook, has dramatically decreased my anxiety and increased my productivity.

Sleep: When I first started college, like other students, I thought sleep was for the weak. I would be perfectly content with doing homework at midnight, going to sleep at 3 a.m., then waking up at 8 a.m.

Looking back, getting five hours of sleep and doing homework at the absolute last minute made me feel utterly miserable. Now that I have dedicated times for homework, I could go to bed at midnight instead of starting homework at that time. I now value sleep so much that it’s really hard to function on anything less than seven hours.

Moral of the story: sleep and good things will ensue. Like Benjamin Franklin said, “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man [or woman, might I add] healthy, wealthy and wise.”

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