UP graphic by Cormac Kelly

UP graphic by Cormac Kelly

Find simple ways to get your days in order

This semester has got to look different for me. Not because it’s January and I’ve got a mile-long list of resolutions for the new year (although this is true as well).

This semester has to look different for me because last semester I ended in December more exhausted than I should have been and that is not the way I want to go into the holidays — or the summer in this case.

Semester days are packed from morning until evening with classes, homework, work schedules and training schedules, and somehow we’re supposed to make time to eat, invest time in our friends and family, and allow time for ourselves.

I spent last semester, or the past four years if I’m being honest, wondering how on earth I could manage a hectic schedule in this awkward stage of life where most of us are dipping our toes in the water of adulting.

I was scrolling through TEDtalks towards the end of last fall, and ended up listening to one called “How to gain control of your free time” by Laura Vanderkam. I immediately thought, “What free time?” Possibly the free time I had when I decided to scroll through TEDtalks initially.

The talk did not address anything profound. In fact, after listening I felt both enlightened and somewhat stupid, because what she was saying was commonsense — or so I thought.

Shelby Strickland UP editor

Shelby Strickland
UP editor

Vanderkam shed light on the fact that we all have time for what we prioritize. This is certainly an ideal concept to stand by, but as much as we’d like to think this is commonsense, we need to be reminded and to be shown a tangible way to put it into practice.

Vanderkam shared the story of a business woman with a family who did not have time for a meeting with her, not because she was busy with work or tending to family, but because she was out for a hike. The business woman explained to Vanderkam that every minute we spend is our choice, and that she doesn’t do X, Y or Z not because she doesn’t have time, but because those things are simply not a priority for her.

“I don’t have time” really means “It’s not a priority.”

Upon hearing this, I began analyzing my own schedule, the things I say ‘yes’ to, and the things I say ‘no’ to. I really started paying attention to where I was choosing to spend my time. And I really wasn’t spending my time watching Netflix or twiddling my thumbs.

I was just so overwhelmed with all that I had to do, I spent most of my time circling around myself trying to decide what to do next. I was actually just being inefficient with my time and decided that if I wanted to get my huge to-do list done, I would have to start prioritizing what I deemed important.

I sat down with my planner and began to actually make a schedule for each day. I first wrote in my class and work schedule, as the time of these are not completely up to me, and from there I filled in my time with what mattered most to me.

I left one evening each week open to spend with friends and one evening open to spend with family. I set aside specific times I would do shoots for my photography, and specific times I would meet with clients. From there I gave myself a couple of hours in the week to run errands (I was previously running one or two errands at a time every couple of days. This obviously ends up being a waste of time).

I even scheduled one entire day a month where I do nothing except what I want to do. I said no to what shouldn’t be priority, and yes to what should by tying things that needed to be done to specific days and time.

You wouldn’t believe how much real free time I actually do have now. Since everything has its place, there are hours where I can actually just sit and exist. I have time to read and leisurely write. Before I was trying to juggle doing multiple things at the same time (we’re all brilliant multi-taskers, right?) and this really ends in getting close to nothing done.

I think it’s safe to say that most college students feel overwhelmed with their own to-do lists. Shifting from a “have to do it all” mindset to a “have to plan out what is most important” mindset can change the semester for all of us.

We can do this — one priority at a time.

Story by Shelby Strickland, UP editor

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

Share this article ....Share on Facebook0Share on Google+0Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone

Comments are closed.