This semester, I am taking up one part-time paid intern at an HR consultancy, a part-time intern at an NGO for university credits, one research assistant position, and of course, blogging. Oh, and did I forget to mention college? So if we are not counting social life, I am taking up 5 commitments. And I have to say, it definitely is not the easiest thing. While I did and do want to do and learn as much as I can with my time, without good management of time I can’t really manage all of them.
So here, I have summarized some of the things and tips that have helped me so much during this semester to balance college, work, blogging and social life.
1. Schedule Your Time Well
If you want to take up a few commitments at the same time, you need to have a good timetable. Since I can schedule all my classes and shifts for my intern, I make sure to schedule them in a way that there will be no clash at all, and can best fit my working time.
- I used Excel when I was registering my classes and negotiating with my employer about my time for shifts.
- After having the time set, I have everything inputted in my Google Calendar. I love that it can sync across devices, and can be used on the Apple Calendar.
I would say the most important part of this is to schedule your class well. If you didn’t plan carefully and spread out your classes across the week, leaving yourself no free days, you won’t be able to take up a full-day intern or job. I squeeze my courses to every Monday and Wednesday afternoon, as well as the whole Thursday. This way, I can work on Monday and Wednesday mornings, as well as Tuesday and Friday for the entire day.
Related reading: Tips for Choosing Your Classes and Arranging Your Schedule
2. Get Into A Routine
I couldn’t stress the importance of routine. A year ago, I would have thought routine is useless and wouldn’t work anyway for me. But when you have so many things to do, you can no longer work for one thing then jump to the other without knowing exactly what you have to and should do. Besides, getting into a routine can make me feel much organized and productive.
For example, here is my routine:
- Monday: half day for college intern; classes in the afternoon
- Tuesday: full day for paid intern
- Wednesday: half day for college intern; classes in the afternoon; dinner with friends
- Thursday: three lectures from 10:30 am – 6:30 pm; work on research assistant tasks
- Friday: full day for paid intern; dinner with friends
- Saturday: blogging and college assignments day
- Sunday: study day
This way, I will clear all my blogging tasks and assignments on Saturday, so I won’t miss any deadline that week. As I keep everything updated every week, I can always be on track. This is to avoid me forgetting one commitment for a while, only to realize that I have got so many things undone after a month.
I also like hanging out with friends on Wednesday and Friday evening/night to take a break. These two days work best for me because I can sleep in the next day, so if I end up going out too late I can still get enough sleep. Of course, with that many commitments, I would definitely have to scale down my social activities a bit. But having found a balance, it isn’t that bad at all.
Related reading: How to Have a Bright and Productive Morning
3. Get A Planner or To-Do App, And Stick To It
I personally prefer using a To-Do app as I can have access to it everywhere, and can easily edit the task. Since blogging is one of my most important commitments, and everything is based on the internet, having a to-do app is so much easier as I can use a particular web page as the task and have quick access to it.
My all-time favorite app is Todoist. And I am saying this not just because I am using it, but because I have tried so many other to-do apps and still stick to it. So it easily becomes one of my all-time favorite app and one that I would really want to recommend you (I wish they would sponsor me too, but no, this is just my personal opinion).
Here are a few of the reasons why I love Todoist so much.
- It is available on all devices, and google chrome extension. I can easily log into my Todoist on my office computer and have access to all the tasks.
- I love the categorization and sub-categories. That helps me a lot. For example, the red project is my university tasks, and in the sub-projects, I have all my major assignments and deadlines. This way I can plan my assignments individually.
- I like previewing my tasks for the next 7 days, unlike many To-do apps that only shows the tasks for the day. Since I can preview my tasks, I can know my availability for the coming days, and whether I should do some tasks in advance.
- You can directly add a webpage or your email as tasks. That is a very convenient function, and I can easily add the links I want to read or emails that I have to reply to in the future to my Todoist.
4. Study Efficiently
With limited time, you will have to learn how to achieve more with less time. Since internships and work schedule are fixed, the one thing that you can try reduce your time on is studying. I am not talking about giving up your grades, but achieve just as much with less time. That means you have to learn to study efficiently. Here are my few favorite things I do to study efficiently.
- I asked my seniors and friends for notes. So instead of having to drill into the readings word by word and find our the key point and arguments yourself, you can have a set of notes ready where you can refer to when you don’t understand something. This can definitely speed up your reading process.
- I use the text-to-speech function to read faster. I have to say that I am definitely not the fastest reader and have to spend quite a lot of time reading the required articles for class. Ever since I find out the text-to-speech function (it’s option + esc for MacBook), I find that it helps me read much faster because I can just set the function to a faster speed and have it read the article out loud for me.
- I make clear and concise study guides. Making long and comprehensive notes may not necessarily be helpful at times. What you need for exams is probably much less than everything in the textbook and in the lecture. Read this article here on How to Create a Study Guide that Actually Helps and How I Make and Use My Study Guides to find out how to make a useful study guide.
5. Study and Read On-The-Go And During Breaks
Since I work a lot of the days, I spend quite a lot of time commuting to work. As I take public transit, I like making use of that time to study or read so that I won’t have to sit in front of my desk to do all that work. In fact, I find that I can be productive during that time as I know that I have only around 30 minutes on the train, and I have to finish one reading during that time.
These are some ways I use to study on-the-go.
- I put everything on Google Drive, so I have access to my readings on my iPad. I like using the app Document and PDF Expert 5 for writing my notes and reading on iPad. With that, I can read on the train while listening to the article by turning on the text-to-speech function. I can highlight and annotate on it as well.
- Sometimes, I like writing some key points and outline on an index card, and bring them around so I can study using them anytime.
- I don’t use cue cards for Q&As, but you definitely can write a question on one side and an answer on the other side on the index card, and quiz yourself during this time.
- There are also a couple of flashcard apps, like StudyBlue and Quizlet. They are also helpful if you want to study on your phone.
- I recently love having all my lecture and tutorial notes on the Notes app on Apple. I know, it is basic. But with Evernote switching its plan to limit free users with only two devices, and OneNote’s mobile view being difficult to read, Notes becomes one of the best note-taking apps. In fact, I love it so much that I have everything on Evernote transferred to it. I can easily read my notes on iPad or iPhone when I am free.
6. Do Everything In Advance
Now we all know how college students love procrastinating. So my final tip will stop procrastinating. I am a huge procrastinator last semester, but this semester I know that I can’t afford to procrastinate. If I postpone one work, everything is just going to pile up next week.
So what I love to do is to plan my day on Sunday. I would go through my to-do app and calendar to check all my deadlines and make sure I have already completed all of them. I also like scheduling my posts a week in advance (on Saturday) so that I don’t have to worry about that during the week. Doing everything in advance helps me stay on track, and reduce my stress.
Related reading: Top 7 Tips to Stay Motivated and Avoid Procrastination
Now It’s Your Turn
This is how I balance and manage all my commitments. What do you think about these tips? Are they helpful for you? And how do you balance your commitments? Tell me in the comment below!
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