COLUMN: Ask Ashley

As a college student, it seems like there are never enough hours in the day between studying, extracurricular activities and finding time to socialize. That’s why it’s important to maximize your time and get the most out of each day. But how does one do that? Well, here are a few things I’ve learned along the way of trying to balance everything -- however, there are some days when you simply can’t do it all. 

That’s where we’ll begin. It’s essential to prioritize what’s most important to you at the start of each day whether it be turning in your midterm paper, calling your mom or grabbing coffee with your friend. Make a to-do list for your day and make sure you put a star by these items and allocate enough time to complete it. Then you can fill in the rest of your tasks for the day around what you prioritized to get done. 

The one thing about to-do lists is to make sure you don’t dump a hundred things on the lists; that will overwhelm you and cause you to rush through tasks. When I make to-do lists, I try to align my tasks with the hours, so when I’ll make sure to have my midterm paper due by 1 pm and that I’m 15 minutes early for my meeting at 7 pm.

Another way to make the most out of the hours in each day is to make use of the Pomodoro technique. This is most effective when it comes to making the most of your time studying. The Pomodoro technique emphasizes putting all your energy into a task for a duration of time and then taking a timed break and getting back to work. It’s typically repeated 4 times and then you take a 30 minute break. After the break, if your task is not done you get back to doing so until your task at hand is completed. 

For example, let’s say you have a big day of studying ahead of you. You have papers, readings and discussion posts. You can start by organizing your assignments with a to-do list. Then you can set timers on your phone for 25 minutes and this will be the amount of time spent doing that task full force. Then you set a timer for 5 minutes to take a break. 

This way you don’t get burnt out studying and can have a brief break in between assignments to stay motivated and focused on the work you are doing. This technique truly lets you utilize your time and not let hours go by while you should be studying but you’re on your phone instead. 

This method is one of my favorites to make it seem like there are more hours in the day, and that’s because of time blocking. Time blocking is wonderful because it can be used in different facets of your life from studying, daily tasks and planning out your day. 

When you time block you decide a specific amount of time you want to spend on a singular task, and in that amount of time, that is all you focus on doing. It’s effective because instead of multitasking and trying to do multiple parts of each assignment, you can concentrate on one task until it’s done. I like to use this method when I have chores to do around the house, I’ll allow 30 minutes to clean the kitchen, an hour for laundry, and another 30 minutes to clean my room. I’ll get it done faster when I block out time for each task than trying to do laundry and clean at the same time.

These are just some methods and techniques that I found work best for me. Try them out and maybe you’ll enjoy them too. 

But remember what you get done in a day doesn’t define you. Prioritize what’s important to you and try to find balance amongst all the aspects of your life.  

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch.

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