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Taming the Beast: How to maximize college life through organization

Getting into college can feel like the biggest challenge. However, once you arrive the daunting task of organizing your new life can be just as cumbersome. With four years of opportunity at your fingertips, managing your time is the key to a successful college experience.

The door closes, your parents have left, and it’s just you and your future left in the dorm room.

For most students, this feeling is both terrifying and freeing, which is exactly how it is supposed to feel. The reality is, this is the first moment for most of us where time is no longer defined by the bells and whistles of classes, coaches, clubs, and all the other obligations of a high school student.

And so, college affords you something high school didn’t: tons and tons of unstructured, free time. For most universities, classes take about 15 hours a week, and beyond that there is nothing built into your days that requires you to be anywhere. With a healthy sleep schedule, this leaves you with somewhere around 100 hours a week to fill on your own.

Thus, the hidden secret to a successful college experience is the ability to get organized and make the most of time that is yours to seize! Here are three big ways to make sure that happens:

Schedule, schedule, schedule

Although you might feel exhilarated to finally be out from underneath the tyranny of a high school schedule, the reality is that it wasn’t the schedule you were ruled by, it was the fact someone else was making it.

Now, you have the ability to choose what you do, which is all the more reason to create a schedule! Block off your classes, schedule library time to do work, pencil in the big game, and don’t forget to leave time for relaxing. Take it a step further and color code it to see when your tough and easy days are!

Seeing what you have to do and when you have free time will alleviate the anxiety of the unknown. It can help you organize your thinking and set expectations for the week to come.

Fill up your time proactively

One of the biggest mistakes students make as new college students is waiting for activities to come to them or being afraid to commit amongst all of the possible choices.

In reality, the best thing you can do to organize your time is to go out and fill your schedule with the things that are most important to you. Get a radio show, become a tour guide, find a job. Whatever it is, though, go after what you want and get it in place so that you can begin to piece in the rest of your schedule around what is most meaningful to you.

At the end of the day, if an activity doesn’t live up to your expectations, it’s better to know sooner than later so you can move on to finding that really does suit you!

You can’t do everything, so plan on missing out

Class ends at 4:30, your library time starts at 4:31 and runs right up until your basketball game at 6:00. All of a sudden, though, your friend tells you about a pop-up show happening in the quad featuring your favorite artist.

College is amazing in the fact that every day there are going to be multiple opportunities to have big experiences. As a result of this, though, you need to go in knowing that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything.

So how do you minimize your FOMO? Make sure that you prioritize in the moment and work on being at peace with the fact that there isn’t space in your day for everything. Knowing you have to miss something makes the reality sting less when it happens.

Build in flexibility

A schedule is meant to free your mind and allow you to not have to think about what you need to do. It maximizes your time and energy by structuring everything for you, but it doesn’t rule your life.

Make sure that you have some time in there that can be used as a buffer and make your life easier. Block off dinner, give yourself ample time to get places, have a day with lots of space, and know how much time you need to get ready for things.

At the end of the day, college offers endless opportunity but finite time. Get organized and get scheduled to help yourself make the most of it without driving yourself crazy.