There is nothing quite like a buzzer beating shot or a walk off in the bottom of the 9th inning. The fans go wild and success is achieved, but the real story behind a team’s success goes all the way back to the decisions made in practice, the gym, and previous games. Similarly, your success and ease of life as a responsible adult and college student relies on the daily habits you create and decisions you make each day. I was home schooled until college. Each Monday, my mom would hand my brother and I our assignments for the week. Then, we would be responsible for completing the week’s work by the end of the day on Friday. The flexibility taught me how to manage my time with sports practices, extracurricular activities, and fun all crammed around school work. Having this independence at a young age, allowed me to transition very well to college at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and now my job as a Consultant at IBM. Over the years I have picked up on several tips that have worked well for me or I have seen work well for others. Below are what I consider the Big 5.
1. Wake up and eat breakfast. Many college students will sleep in as long as they can right up until running out the door to rush to their 8 AM or 9:30 AM class. Remember when your mom used to wake you up and have breakfast ready? Yeah you need to keep doing that but just by yourself now. Being able to be productive before morning classes and having energy in classes not only opens your schedule later in the day but it makes you feel better as well.
2. Keep a calendar and to do list. This is an absolute must. Many people think that means carry a planner everywhere and write everything down word for word. While that is one effective way, it is by no means the only. However, if you do use a planner I suggest one that is a month per page so you can see ahead and use different color pens or pencils to group different activities. I personally keep my major events, travel, vacations, and family and friend birthdays in iCal on my iPhone with reminders on a day and a hour before the event time. I also keep a short term weekly action item sticky note permanently on my laptop’s desktop. Other great apps are Evernote and Wunderlist.
3. Remember why you are in college. School obviously comes first. It is the reason you, your parents, or scholarships are paying for you to be there. In college, there will be many times where you have to say no to hanging out with friends or going to the game in order to complete assignments. As a freshman, figure out the time you need and set up a baseline routine for completing the work. Then, you can schedule in club activities, intramural sport, work, time with friends, etc.
4. Value your time as the hourly salary you could earn right now. For most college students, your time is worth about $8-$10. As an example, if you do not see $30 in value from playing video games for 3 hours, you should probably find something else to do. Valuing your time in this way allows you to weed out the excess or distracting activities that do not benefit you or those around you.
5. Find ways to enjoy the hardest work. Many phrase this as “embracing the grind”, but it really is crucial because you have to do it for the rest of your life. Find the place where you work best, buy a coffee, or make a good music playlist. Time management is one life skill that can set you apart from others and help you reach your potential. Really smart people in college can do poorly due to only poor time management while others who did not score the highest on the SAT or have a 4.9 GPA can really succeed in and maximize the college experience. Do not let time hold you back, beat the buzzer.
UNC Class of 2016, Kenan-Flagler Business School