Unconventional Methods of Time Management in College

by Stephen Buckley, Product Specialist

By now, you have probably heard most (if not all) of the usual recommended ways of managing your time: making a planner/calendar, taking breaks, planning ahead, etc. I am not here to offer those, as I will give you extremely obscure, but effective (at least for me) tips on managing your time in college.

Tip #1: Excessive Multitasking

You are probably aware of multitasking, but this tip is about pushing the absolute limits of it. Let me give you an example. A couple of weeks ago, I had to pick up a package from Georgia Tech’s Exhibition Hall. I was feeling a bit tired, so I was planning on grabbing coffee at some point. I was also in need of some lunch. So, I combined all of these into one endeavor. I walked to get coffee (which is on the way to the Exhibition Hall), then I went to the Exhibition Hall to pick up my package. Right next to the Exhibition Hall is Rising Roll, a place that serves sandwiches. I picked up lunch from there. During this trip, I also called my parents, since I do that every Thursday anyway. So, on one walking trip, I picked up a package, had my daily intake of caffeine, grabbed lunch, and called my parents. To achieve that level of multitasking and efficiency, you have to plan it beforehand. I am proposing that you go out of your way to multitask, to such an extreme extent that people will be astonished at your level of efficiency.

Tip #2: Do Assignments Way in Advance

This isn’t the normal “don’t wait until the last minute” tip. This is more of a “do it in the first minute” tip. Now, this is probably not good advice. But hear me out. By doing everything way in advance (but still giving everything an appropriate level of effort), I still get everything done but reduce the stress of upcoming deadlines on myself. It also makes it such that when other people fall behind, I simply fall on-time. It enables me to take mental health days when I need to, without them having any consequence on my GPA. There are obviously levels to it, but generally getting things done extremely early has its benefits.

Tip #3: Productive Procrastination, Not Procrastination

A better tip here would be “don’t procrastinate”, but we all know that’s hard. I have an alternate solution: procrastinate on assignments and responsibilities you don’t like by attending to less urgent, more enjoyable responsibilities first. Here’s an example from my own life: I am a computer science major and I enjoy my computer science courses more than I do my others. So, if I employ the ideals of productive procrastination, instead of working on an assignment in a non-computer science course that is due in three days, I might work on an assignment in a computer science course due in six days. The idea is that you have to do the more enjoyable assignment anyway, so you may as well be productive and reap the benefits of procrastination simultaneously.

Tip #4: Work Around Your Unproductive Periods Instead of Failing to Fix Them

Once you spend enough time in college, you recognize that there are some periods of the day and/or week that you are unproductive more frequently than others. I am personally unproductive after 10 P.M. because of tiredness and I am also generally unproductive on Saturdays. I have no idea what it is about Saturdays, but I just do not get much done on those days (maybe it’s a psychological thing?). You could try to be more productive during those periods, but usually there is some reason you cannot reasonably change causing the unproductiveness. Instead, I propose that you acknowledge the typical-unproductiveness and plan around it. For the examples I gave, I generally do not plan to get much work done on Saturdays so that I am not disappointed when I ultimately don’t. I also leave complex and cognitive-based tasks to early in the day, while I leave simple busy work to later in the day. That way, when tiredness hits, I can still be productive by doing tasks that don’t require much thought or energy.

You probably will not hear those tips from most people, and they might not work for everyone. However, they have certainly helped me manage my time as a college student and I believe they can possibly help others.