You’d think with all this “free time” during quarantine I’d find the time to write a few blog posts here and there, but no. I’ve been studying for finals, taking finals, and preparing myself for my summer internship. I’ve done a lot in the past few weeks.
Finals are finished – I’m officially a 2L! Everything got moved online, and classes went pass fail. Most universities did the same. And it’s not like there’s a protocol or a how-to book on running a place of higher education. I think everyone is doing their best, only what “their best” looks like during this time is drastically different from what it was in 2019.
I’m excited to begin my internship sometime this month (or next, depending on how quarantine goes). Once I actually start, and receive permission to tell the internet what my position is and with whom, I’ll make a post about it.
If you’re anything like me, your summer is probably a whirlwind of different tasks. I’ve managed to juggle two jobs, errand running, school work, hanging out with friends and family, as well as finding time to do my own thing. While I wouldn’t call myself an organization and time management expert, I’d say I’m as close as a college kid can get. Here are all my (not so) top secret tips at managing a hectic college kid life during the summer.
Your Planner is Your Best Friend
Whether you use your phone, a bullet journal, or a regular old planner, keeping everything all together keeps you from either forgetting a shift or from getting a massive headache trying remember what your week looks like. I have three different “planners” when I’m on summer break, mainly because I have a tendency to forget where I’m going or what I’m doing mid-task or mid-work day.
I use my phone (Google calendar is my favorite for this) for “places and people” things. So, for example, I work 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at John Doe’s pool on Monday June 2, but I also meet my friend Sarah from 3:30 pm to 5:30 pm at Mr. Joe’s Taco Shop the same day. I put those “people and place” events into my phone, with the date, time, and address. I can set my calendar to send me an email reminder (or an alert to my phone if I’m using the app) thirty minutes beforehand. It’ll even give you a traffic update so you know how long it’ll take to get there! On the Google calendar app you can invite friends to your calendar events, so if I’m still meeting my friend Sarah at Mr. Joe’s Taco Shop on Monday I can invite her to the event via her gmail address and Google calendar will send her a reminder email too.
For my “big day events” I put a sticky note on my dresser with the date on the left and the event to the right. I create this sticky note every Sunday, or as soon as I receive my updated work schedules for the week. An example of a “big day event” is a shift at work, a birthday, a holiday, doctor’s appointment, or an important due date (I can’t be the only one that forgets to return my library books, right?). This lets me know if I have any immediate things that need to get done for the week, or if I need to go buy presents or make reservations for special meals.
I use my bullet journal for everything else. And when I say everything, I mean everything. I have a monthly calendar layout at the beginning of each year, followed by more detailed weekly layouts. I write “big day events” in the monthly section whenever I get them, and then transfer them into the weekly layout when they come up. If there are any little tasks that need to get done that week (i.e. wash the dogs, go to the bank, pick up more coffee for breakfast, etc.) I write them in under the date I have the most time to complete them. This helps me visualize how busy my week is going to be and to manage my time during my off days effectively. I’m also able to do lots of little things in between shifts at two different jobs because I know exactly what needs to get done and can plan out approximately how much time I need to complete those tasks. Having my bullet journal with me wherever I go also helps to decrease my absentmindedness.
It seems insane, but if you’re a space cadet like I am when crazy stressed, then it totally works!
2. Map Out Your Week in Advance
I’ve been bullet journaling since my freshman year of college and I love it. Not only does it give me a creative outlet, I’m forced to figure out my week at least a day in advance. During the summer I have too much going on to spend time each night to figure out what tomorrow looks like, so I figure out what my week looks like in detail and go from there.
The best way to maximize your time is to figure out how much time each task will take. So if I have to work for four hours in the morning, sweep the downstairs part of my house, walk my dogs, and go to the grocery store, I’m looking at about six total hours of task completing. But wait! I forgot to budget for commute in between tasks, if there is any. So really, I’m probably looking at seven total hours of task completing. Once I’m able to budget around that, and stick to my schedule, I can plan in free time or time to study or catch up on Homecoming work.
There are plenty of hourly printables out there. This one’s the one I like! Emmastudies is a great studyblr blog and she has tons of really helpful printables for just about everything.
3. Communicate With Your Boss(es)
If you’re working, getting your schedule can be a pain because sometimes you’re over scheduled on busy weeks and under scheduled on slow weeks. Working two jobs, I’ve had to learn to be open with my bosses about how much I can realistically work each week. I don’t like confronting adults with issues, especially if they’re able to fire me or reduce my hourly pay. Honestly, I’ve been pretty scared about talking to people higher up because I was afraid they’d see me as a lazy worker, or as someone that isn’t able to be held to the standard of work asked of me. After talking with one of my bosses about getting two days off a week and only working mornings, I realized that she had no idea how overworked I was (I’m talking pulling three thirteen hour days in a row each week after working every day before that). Most bosses are scary, I’ll agree, but they usually take pride in their business and want their employees to be able to on top of their game for each and every shift. Not all will be as flexible as my boss was, but being polite about being overworked is always worth a shot.
I have trouble staying focused. It’s like my brain goes on autopilot and flies to South America on vacation without me! Like come on, man, at least take me with you!
Over the past few months I’ve found little tricks to keep me on task. From using all my senses (6th included) to using timers and short bursts of exercise I’ve managed to keep my brain with me.
1. Sense of Smell
This sounds weird, but it actually does help to spray an unfamiliar scent when you study. I like to use candles because of their calming effect.
Constantly keeping a part of the body in motion, doing something the person doesn’t have to put much thought into such as knitting a scarf, playing with silly putty, or tapping a desk has shown to help increase the ability to pay attention in those with ADHD. Usually, taking notes and bobbing my leg up and down during class keeps my brain centered on the task at hand, but I’ve been in classes where I didn’t have to take notes. What a crisis! So, with my teacher’s permission, I began to knit during class. There was instant improvement. Heck, I could focus on one topic for an hour and a half straight! It was a miracle!
If you’re like me and get distracted by ambient conversations try listening to music without words, such as the Star Wars soundtrack, or the sounds of nature. Both Apple and Google have great apps for instrumental music and ambiance.
We are visual creatures, are we not? Try taking short breaks every few paragraphs or so (when taking notes) and draw pictures that summarize or help you remember what you read. It gives your brain enough time to wander before going back into serious study mode so you don’t waste a half hour day dreaming.
I’m a big believer in the Pomodoro method of learning. Twenty-five minutes of work and a five minute break? Sounds good to me! If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, check out the official website at this link to learn more! However, the way I Pomodoro is a little different – during the five minute break I either walk down and back up all the floors in my dorm or I run in place. This helps get all my bumps, jitters, restless leg syndrome stuff out of the way so it won’t bother me when I’m working.
What are some of the methods you use to keep focused?