College gives you a lot of freedom, and with freedom comes idle hands, and with idle hands come wasted time. It takes a bit of an adjustment to get into the habit of studying a certain amount of hours a week for each class you take, figuring when and when not to devote time towards outside clubs, and realizing you’ve spent too much time with friends and need to get back to hitting the books again.
Last fall and spring semesters, this is what I had on my plate:
- 18 credit hours each semester (3 science courses + labs per semester)
- 6 hours/week of research
- 4 hours/week of volunteering
- 4 hours/week of shadowing
- 4 hours/week of internship
- 4+ hours/week of dance rehearsals (and I was an officer)
- I was active in 4 clubs
- Yes, I had a social life.
- Yes, I was able to sleep at least 6 hours on the weekdays (weekends, I don’t sleep, I party…just kidding, I slept for 10 hours/night on the weekends)
- I did not make anything below a 93.
I’m not here to brag and tell you it was easy because trust me, it was NOT easy. It took dedication and grit. Having that said, how the hell did I not die my second year of college?!?!
You need the right tools.
- A Monthly Calendar
This was a DIY calendar that I made before my second year of college. It adds color to my room and pulls my attention every once in awhile.
How to make it:
- Buy a big frame from Ikea or Hobby Lobby
- Steal 35-40 paint chips from Home Depot and cut them up into squares (just kidding, don’t steal)
- Tape/glue it onto the white paper that always comes with frames when you first buy them
- Make sure to place the plastic glass thingy over the paint chips so that you can write on it with an white board marker and erase easily
- I use Acetone and a tissue paper to erase everything and start over at the end of each month
**I only write down the super important dates on my monthly calendar: Exams, quizzes, travel days, important meetings, and project due dates.
2. Weekly Template
This is when I usually start getting looks of bewilderment from people. As a pre-med student, I dedicate a lot of my time to studying. This semester, the MCAT is my priority, as you can see. I love routines, so I make a weekly template at the beginning of every semester. This is what an ideal week would look like for me this fall. I always strive to follow this schedule, so I use it as a guide when I plan my daily doings every week. Of course, life throws curve balls, so I don’t always follow this perfectly, but it gives me a timeline for when new meetings or things pop up so that I can plan accordingly and still get these weekly goals done.
SOME MAIUSEFUL PRINTABLES!
- I got this first one off of the internet, and it’s a bit blurry. However, I like it that way when it prints, so that what I write pops out of the page more, and it’s easier to see my time blocks.
- I made this one to have more bolded lines if the blurry template bothers you. You can fill in your own time increments if you don’t like the hourly time frame from 8:00am- 12:00am on the first template.
3. A Planner
THERE IS NO WAY YOU WILL SURVIVE COLLEGE IF YOU DO NOT HAVE SOME TYPE OF PHYSICAL OF DIGITAL PLANNER.
I’m sad that Sugar Paper pulled their planners from Target this year because this was my absolute favorite! It literally organized my life. If any of my readers know a planner that’s just like this, or if Sugar Paper is selling at another store, let me know in the comments!
Time is money! More tips:
- Try to stick to your schedule as much as you can.
- Learn to be flexible and adapt to changes.
- If something pops up, make sure that you only change your schedule if that something is at a higher priority than what you have planned that hour/day.
- Make time for yourself and something fun! Last year, I painted every Thursday night; this year, I am taking kickboxing lessons with some of my girlfriends.
- Plan your naps, driving times, meals, free times so that you don’t burn yourself out. All the blank spaces you see on my weekly schedule are fair game for socializing (this semester, keep in mind that I am cutting down on my social life because I am studying for the MCAT with most of the free time I have, so don’t let my ideal week scare you if you aren’t taking the MCAT this semester).
HAVE FUN PLANNING!
By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.