Life + Arts

Time management tips to balance courses, life

Jose Gonzalez-Campelo/The Cougar

As the first few weeks of school come to a close, it’s easy to get sucked into all the fun of meeting friends, getting free stuff and trying not to drown in the tornado puddles. You might almost forget the reason you’re here: pesky schoolwork.

The good news is that, with a few fancy time management tricks, you can shape your future and get back to jumping in the fountains in no time. (Please don’t actually jump in the fountains).

Don’t multi-task

Seriously, just don’t. As much as you might swear up and down that you’re able to flip through tinder, catch up on “The Last of Us” and study for that organic chemistry test, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

In fact, most research says that multi-tasking actually makes you less productive. Humans are “natural mono-taskers”, which means we naturally focus on one task at a time. 

One study showed that students who multitasked actually got lower grades on average. So when you’re studying, consider turning off a device or two and picking one thing to focus on.

Find a study buddy

Grab a couple of those newfound friends that you likely made at one of UH’s many fine back-to-school events and get ready to hit the books, because evidence shows that studying with someone else can help you be more productive.

The technique is called ‘body doubling,’ and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The other person acts as your ‘double,’ providing a calming presence and modeling on-task behavior to help you stick to what you’re working on.

Of course, this only works if your friend isn’t also distracting to you, so consider studying with your less interesting friends (but maybe don’t tell them you think of them that way).

Take breaks (wisely)

Obviously, you shouldn’t be taking breaks every five minutes for two hours, but there’s a lot to be said for taking breaks strategically. In fact, there’s an entire study method created around taking breaks. 

The Pomodoro Method involves spending 25 minutes working on a task, then taking a 5-minute break. After four of these sessions, you take a longer, 15-30 minute break. This helps you break up longer tasks into more manageable segments. 

And it’s named after the Italian word for tomato, so you can pretend you’re getting a cultural education out of it too!

Have fun!

Seriously! Don’t forget that college is about a lot more than just grades, and make sure to take time to make new connections that might just last a lifetime. Take a deep breath, grab another espresso shot and we’ll all make it to the end somehow.

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