Your years in college are all about building a skillset that will last you a lifetime in the real world. It is the most important time period of your lives! Whether you focus on specializing in a field you dreamt of as a child, or you choose to make the world a better place for others, college is a time to put in the work!
With a new year underway, it has only gotten more challenging for students. The whole pandemic situation hasn’t made it any easier. Going through my first engineering masters year at the time of writing this article, I know all about the struggles of these times. That being said, despite the shape of our classrooms changing from lecture halls to our very own homes, the fundamentals of what it means to be a student haven’t changed that much.
This is still a time where we build our character and our knowledge. Just some of the methods to get there have changed! In this article I will go over a few of the goals that I have set for 2022 that have yielded me great results in the past. So let’s get right into it!
1. Time Management
One of the most crucial tips I can give to new students is to learn how to manage your time! Time is one of the few things in life that you simply wish you had more of in your student years, so make sure you are able to get the most out of it!
Proper time management skills are not only important for getting good grades in school, they will allow you to have the successful career later on in life that you dream of! On top of that, good time management skills induce more confidence, better organization skills as well as decreased levels of stress. All of which can be incredibly beneficial in life, let alone during your extremely busy student days!
So how exactly can we better manage our time?
Create an overview schedule
An overview schedule is simply a week by week plan where you dedicate specific times for certain tasks. For example, if you don’t have class tuesday afternoon, they you can most effectively spend that time working on all your courses.
Using an overview schedule also allows you to time your social and sports activities. You can block off your monday and thursday evenings because that is when you will go for a run.
This is an excellent way to prioritize your tasks. In the times of the pandemic, it also gives us structure to follow, which because an increasingly important concept as your studies get harder!
Keep a journal
As a student, we are always confronted with new tasks and deadlines to complete. It can often times be an absolute nightmare to keep track of! Keeping a personalized journal, you can write down all the homework and upcoming test dates down. Then when you get home, you are able to dedicate time slots in your overview schedule to get them done!
A journal can also be used for many other things, such as mindfulness journaling or setting goals. In the future I will write a more detailed article about all the productive things you can use an agenda for, so keep an eye out on my recent posts as well as my archived topics!
Plan your projects
Whatever study choice you make when you get to university, you will be working in teams quite often. When working on large projects, make sure you plan these out properly. I have wasted hours and hours of my time on poorly planned projects. You will be working tirelessly on a certain topic, only to then have someone else say we are not required to talk about it. Plan ahead who is going to do what, I promise you it will save your life!
One of the best ways to plan for such projects is to make use of a Gantt chart. I have used them all throughout my engineering studies and they have been a great aid in saving time! Learn how to use them and apply them to your planning as soon as possible!
I have written a more in-depth article about general time management skills. If you feel like you want/need some more information, then you are more than welcoming by checking it out here!
Learning how to budget your money is a must know skill for both students and non-students alike! Budgeting is arguably one of the most important financial habits that you need to develop. Budgeting is so important because it teaches you to control your money. People with good budgeting skills will track their expenses in detail, have a list of how much they can spend on what area of their life, and are thus able to make smarter financial decisions.
On top of that, it also ensures that you do not spend money that you don’t have. Credit card debt is skyrocketing in the developed world, and it really sets people back. It can often be difficult to realize that you are overspending. That won’t be the case when you budget your monthly allowance!
Budgeting however is only a small part of financial planning, as we will discuss in the next point. For now however, let’s go into some ways that you can budget better!
Assign amounts to your needs
The most basic needs everyone has is to pay rent, and to buy groceries. These are expenses that you can easily assign an amount too. your dorm rent might be $400, and you might spend $350 on food every month. Now you can take your allowance and subtract those values. All the money you have left you can then further subdivide into other categories of your choosing. You might say you want to invest 40% of the remaining money. This is not a financial blog, so I won’t go too in-depth on this.
Don’t worry about others
Comparing yourself to others who might have a bigger budget than you is one surefire way of going into debt. Comparison is not only the thief of joy, it will also steal your hard earned money. Do not worry how others spend their money, make smart investments and don’t spend your money trying to impress other people.
In the social media society this becomes even more difficult. We are continuously confronted with people on Instagram and Snapchat showing off their “amazing” lifestyles. Do not be fooled by this aesthetic life! Focus on you!
Getting into the habit of reading, even for just 30 minutes to an hour per day, is one of the best habits you can adopt into your character! I always suggest you spend time reading books about topics that you are not currently studying in your university, but that will teach you important life school. For example, I am an engineering student, but I spend a lot of my time reading both philosophy as well as financial books. They teach me a great deal about aspects of life I have had no educational exposure too. I feel that it makes me a more complete person.
There are many other reasons why you should start reading, here are just a few:
Fits into a balanced life
If you want to live a balanced life, a daily reading habit is an absolute must! Reading can be an incredible way to decrease your stress levels. Students are constantly put under stress, whether its before project deadlines or examinations. Spending just 30 minutes a day reading will put your mind of your stressful life, which can be a real mental health boost.
One of the best times to read is right before bed, not only is this great to reduce stress before you sleep, it is also a great way to limit your exposure to blue light before sleep. I will talk more about sleeping routines in the next point, so make sure you keep reading!
Makes you smarter
As I mentioned in before, reading about topics that you have little exposure too can really open a world of opportunities for you. It doesn’t matter if you read fiction or non-fiction books, you can learn a great deal from books.
Another great alternative to reading is audio books. Especially if you have to commute to and from your classes everyday. Driving while listening to an audio book can be a very efficient way to acquire new knowledge. My personal preference is to still read the books yourself, but we must all play the cards in life we are dealt!
4. Create Sleep Routine
Most, if not all students will at one time in their study career complain about the lack of sleep they have been experiencing. There are stressful moments, where we simply have no other option but to grind out the work, at the cost of our sleep. That being said, there are plenty of ways we can reduce the amount of sleep we lose over these stressful moments in your life.
If you create a proper sleeping routine, you will get the most out of your nighttime sleep. I personally need around 8 hours of sleep to be able to efficiently study for a day. This includes a 20 minute nap after lunch. When I go to bed, I am someone that when my head hits the pillow I am already asleep. I then promptly wake up about 5 minutes before my alarm goes off. It won’t take you long to achieve this kind of a sleeping routine! If you follow a plan, i’d say maybe 2-3 weeks!
Lets go over some of the most important aspects of a good sleep routine!
Be consistent in your bed time
The one tip that has helped me the most, is that you have to go to bed and wake up at the same time every single day. If you are someone that expects to sleep in on the weekend, then you will never have a truly good sleeping schedule! You have to stay consistent, else your body will never fully understand your sleeping pattern.
Note that it doesn’t matter when you go to sleep and when you get out of bed, as long as they are at the same time everyday! So if you study well in the late evening and early morning and want to go to bed at 3 am and wake up at 12 the next day, then in terms of your sleep you are golden! Just don’t miss too many classes :D!
Limit daytime naps
As i mentioned before, a quick 20 minute power naps does wonders for me in terms of my productivity! Without that, I will almost fall asleep over my books, and am just not efficient at all. That being said, sleeping for more than 20 minutes will affect you night time sleep quality by some margin!
On top of that, make sure you do not take any naps in the evening, especially not as a routine! I take my naps after lunch, which means there is plenty of time between my nap and my bed time at night!
I wrote a much more dedicated article on ways to improve your sleep. If this is something that you are struggling with, then make sure to give that article a look here!
5. Focus On YOU
University is a time where you create a skillet for life. It might sound self-centered, but it really is a time to focus on you! Of course I am not saying you shouldn’t make or have any friends. In fact, your social life can have massive consequences for your mental health! All I am saying is that you should never sacrifice your ability to build your character and your skills to go and waste time with others.
There are many benefits that come with focusing on yourself that a lot of people will never really discover in their lives!
You’ll realize your purpose in life
There is no one out there that can straight up tell you what your true passion or purpose in life is. If you want to discover that, you are going to have to look inward and dig deep. Focusing on yourself means spending a lot of time doing different things. You are bound to come across something you like, and delving deeper into this will often times bring our what you want to do with the rest of your life!
Finding purpose can often times be difficult. I am planning to write more in-depth about this topic in the future. So make sure you keep an eye on my most recent posts, as well as the list of all my topics here!
You’ll master life
If you make yourself your number 1 priority, you will learn one crucial life lesson. You will learn exactly what you need, and what you don’t need in life. Your views on friendships, family and relationships will change. You won’t spend time around others if the relationships is not beneficial in a mutual way. You won’t put up with BS anymore.
You also come to understand that you are in control of your life. Many people play the blame game, but you will learn ways to discover that most of the time the only person to blame is you. To get you to this point faster, check out this mental exercise!
Being a student will be one of the most wonderful times of your life, despite many not realizing this until much later on in your life. You are young and are therefore able to take many risks. Study what you are passionate about, and if you fail exams and have to redo a year, don’t stress it. You have plenty of time in your life to build a good career!
If you adopt all of the smart goals in this article, I am sure you will have a wonderful 2022! I hope you learned something and enjoyed the read! Until next time!