I never felt the pressure of time as I do in college. The feeling that time is running out and that I have a million things to do never ends. I needed to find a balance between my hobbies and my duties, but I didn't know how. I began a search for time management tips, but most of what I found were from people in the workforce, not for students, and the things that were indeed for students failed to help me find the balance I desire.
So I started to wonder: What do we, as students, think about time? What do we actually want to do with our time? How do you spend something that you will never get back? That's when I decided to interview other college students. I wanted to know what their perception about time was and what made it meaningful. This is what I found:
I asked students, "What do you think about time?" I don’t know what I expected with this question because I was surprised to find so many answers. Time is very different for everyone, but still, there is a pattern. The majority believes that time is something that we take for granted. But the truth is we don’t get it back once we use it, and we need to appreciate it and take advantage of it. Husky, a 19-year old student, made a comparison between time and money; he said we are born rich and we get poorer as we get older. As we do with money, we have to spend it wisely.
Others told me, with less or more words, that time was a creation to control our lives and allows to create a routine. One or two said that time does not exist and that it is only a way to organize our things, a “guide” for us to follow. All these opinions were so interesting to me. However, Martín Nava, a 19-year old student, gave a definition of time that made me reflect: “Es una oportunidad de volverte inmortal con tus actos,” which translates to: “Is an opportunity to become immortal with your doings.”
After learning what students thought about time, I wanted to know what they do to give it meaning and purpose so I asked,"What activities make your time meaningful?" They named a lot of activities: reading, drawing, playing an instrument, eating, sleeping, working and hanging out with loved ones. Basically, any activity that makes them happy. If they felt pleasure or productive, their time was well spent. Some said "living," which I believe has a deeper meaning so I will not try to guess it.
I used to believe I had to study to be productive so I could say I was spending my time well. However, I was only stressing myself out more than I had to. With these answers, I realize nobody can tell you which is the best thing you can do with your time. It depends entirely on your beliefs and goals.
As John Lennon said, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." And life is a collection of moments, which are pieces of time. So we can say that spending our time meaningfully is living our life like that as well. If you find meaning by just chilling with your friends, do that! Give yourself time to do the activities that you love, because you will feel more happy with your life.
Time Management Tips
The last question I asked was,"What advice would you give to other students about time management?" I learned that organization is key.
The advice they gave me the most was to use a calendar or a journal to keep track of the things you want to do. Establishing a specific time for each activity will make it easier for you to organize your day. As you save time for your duties, you have to give yourself time to do the things you love; that’s how you find balance. Use alarms, reminders or timers to keep in mind everything you need and to set a specific amount of time to do it.
It is also helpful to identify which activities are more important and start from there. Other advice people told me, and I also do this myself, is to divide projects or activities into smaller tasks. So don’t do that important project one week before it's due! Set simple and smaller task that you could do every day, and before you realize it, the project will be done.
Even with this information, I didn’t find the special formula to make the most with my time, but I did learn that the formula does not really exist. Time is so complex and subjective that no one can tell you how to spend it correctly. Nonetheless, I recommend you to find what makes your time meaningful and do it like if it were one more task in your to-do's. Not everything must be a duty and neither a joy. Allowing ourselves to feel pleasure in our time is how we can find balance. It's easier said than done, but I will put in practice these strategies to cut the time pressure that comes with being a college student, and I hope they will help you too.
I want to give a special thank you to all my friends and fellow classmates that answered my questions. Your answers are very appreciated.
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