Time management for students

12 May

With finals literally right around the corner many people are probably stressing out about how to fit everything in.

With these tips from career and life coach Angela Martin, owner of San Diego based Defining Success Coaching, you can ensure that next semester won’t be as crazy as this semester.

Q & A: How to find a school/work/life balance

QAs students, we often feel a lot of pressure to get involved with as many organizations on campus and off campus as we can. How do we manage that pressure? 

A: My advice is to only commit to the organizations that you can be active in.  Having an organization on your resume won’t do you any good if an employer finds out you were only there 60 percent of the time.  Be a leader in at least one organization, and don’t join more than three.  Three in one year with classes, homework, jobs, family obligations, social desires and making time for your self is a full load.

Q: What are some indicators that a student may have taken on more than they can handle?

A: Indicators that you have taken on too much are that your grades are suffering, relationships are falling apart, obligations are neglected, and/or you feel overwhelmed and anxious.

Q: So what do we do then?

A: You’ve heard many times that you must prioritize.  Let’s be honest, though. Prioritizing can be hard and stressful.  How do you choose among reworking your class essay, preparing for your student organization speech, attending your friend’s birthday dinner, working out, and filling out a scholarship application for the next hour or two?  Then, what are you going to choose for the rest of your night, week, month?

As a career and life coach, one tool I use to help my clients prioritize quickly and easily is the force-value technique.  To use a version of this in your everyday life, you can simply ask yourself one question as you compare each choice:

  • For instance with the example above, ask yourself, “If I can never rework my class essay again or never prepare for my student organization speech again, which do I choose to do?”
  • If you choose to rework your class essay, then ask yourself, “If I can never rework my class essay again or never attend my friend’s birthday dinner again, which do I choose to do?”
  • This not only makes you evaluate your choices in the moment but also for the future.  The question is serious especially since some of the choices you may truly never be able to do again (or make time for ever again).

Go down your list, comparing every two items separately.  If A is more important than B and B is more important than C, then you will never have to compare A to C because it automatically goes lower on your list of priorities. 

Q: I have often heard working adults say that it is difficult to find a good balance between work and life. For students, we also have a hard time finding that balance. What kind of things can students do that can help them establish that balance?

A: As a student, the best way to ensure you have a good balance in your life is something working adults don’t have the luxury of doing as often.  Combine your obligations with your social desires.  If you have to do community service for an organization, invite your friends or family to do it with you.  If you are driven to raise money for a cause or start your own business, do it as a class project.  Incorporate what you are passionate about with what you know you will have to do.  ‎

Think of the words of Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  If your job, classes, projects, organizational memberships and all other obligations can relate to what you’re passionate about, then the question of work-life balance is obsolete.     

Q: In the end, what is the key to getting everything done that needs to be done? Are there any tools or techniques students can use to help with that?

A: The key to getting everything done (and not dropping any glass balls nor socks) is to be honest with yourself.  Before committing to anything assess whether it meets your desires and goals in life AND if you realistically have time to take it on.  Don’t let anyone convince you that you can or should take something on; always go with your gut feeling.

Having a calendar that works for you is vital (see my Examiner article for more detail).  Select a calendar that works for you and not only schedule when something is due but also when you will work on it leading up to its due date.  Don’t forget to schedule your personal goals.  If you don’t write them down and set aside time to work on them, then you won’t reach them.

Q: After all is said and done, sometimes we feel guilty about enjoying free time. Is that wrong?

A: Actually, it’s important to remember that you will be more productive overall if you have free time.  Because you have down time doesn’t mean you have to fill it.  The culture in America has been steadily moving toward the idea that if you have time to relax, then you must book a massage, make an acupuncture appointment or go to a coffee shop.  Yet, humans need time to simply be – to rest without having to go somewhere and check something off a list.  Meditate, daydream, take a nap or do whatever you need to do to relax.  Don’t feel guilty about it.  

Your mind, body and spirit will thank you for providing the balance you need.  

Good luck on finals everyone!

– Angela Martin
Certified Career & Life Coach and Company Owner | SDPCA Secretary | Examiner Writer | Speaker
Twitter: @DS_Coaching

About Angela:

Angela Martin is the owner of Defining Success Coaching.  She is a certified career and life coach who uses proven techniques to help creative people make a great living doing work they love.  Her specialities are helping people land the perfect job, market themselves and/or their business, and resolve management issues.  She is also the Work-Life Balance Writer for San Diego’s Examiner.com.

One Response to “Time management for students”


  1. Hard Work Pays Off: A lesson in work ethic and finding balance « There's No Crying in PR - August 6, 2012

    […] all, Balance: If you value the personal relationships in your life, you will need to understand how to balance your work load with your personal life. Sometimes it can be tricky, and I can personally attest to the fact that […]

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