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Effective time management strategies vary among college students

When thinking about time management’s role in college, I often recall a comic I saw on my friend’s Facebook page freshman year.

It read, cynically: “Good grades. Enough sleep. A social life. You can only pick two. Welcome to college.”

Although the picture was meant as a joke, it couldn’t be any more true. I relate to its message even more the further I get into college.

While signing up for classes, I take a look at my printed schedule and think, “This looks great – I’m going to have so much free time next semester!”

When the semester kicks into gear, however, I’m usually disappointed when reality fails to meet my optimistic expectations.

Fall 2011 is no exception.

On paper, my 12 credit hours look beautiful.

In reality, finding the time to balance the work accompanying those hours is rather difficult. I’m sure many students can relate.

Add a few more items to that printed schedule – including homework, freelance writing, Bible study, time spent with my friends, family and fiancé, and above all, my responsibilities as an editor at The BG News – and suddenly my workload begins to exceed the number of hours available in a given week.

(That doesn’t even include attempting to find time to sleep and eat, which usually is on the low end of the priority totem pole lately.)

I wouldn’t say I’m finding time management impossible this semester; after all, managing things is my job, as managing editor of The BG News.

I am, however, finding it a little difficult to define what exactly my time management strategy is when I’m asked about it.

I work crazy hours. I get minimal sleep. I start most of my papers the day before they’re due, sometimes in the wee hours of the night after lengthy procrastination sessions, which include watching YouTube videos and cleaning my entire apartment.

Nonetheless, I still find time to visit home often, stay involved at The BG News, go to the occasional party and maintain a 4.0 grade point average (although I think it may be slightly decreasing at the end of this semester).

It’s quite the paradox, isn’t it?

After some reflection, I’ve realized effective time management strategies are as diverse as the students who attend the University.

“Time management” can mean many things to multiple people. It doesn’t necessarily mean getting your homework done two weeks early and going to bed at 9 p.m. every night.

For me, time management means getting my work done while still enjoying college as much as I can, even if it means skipping a few hours of sleep here and there or severely stressing the night before a project is due.

I’m a journalist; I thrive on deadline writing. The adrenaline rush of procrastinated assignments is a routine simulation of what I expect to face in my professional career.

My strategy has gotten me this far. It may not work for everyone, but it works for me.

It produces my grades, my news stories and even the column you’re reading right now – and with only a year left of college, I don’t see myself changing it anytime soon.

What’s your strategy? I would love it if you would leave me an email and let me know.

I’m also still trying to figure out how to achieve all three goals from my friend’s Facebook comic, so if you have any tips, those would be helpful, too.

Judging by the miniscule four hours of sleep I got last night, you can probably guess which two options I’m sticking with for now.

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