In the last few weeks, I’ve been working on improving the College Compass newsletter. What used to be an update on new posts is now more of a resource guide for different points in the semester, with blog posts and free downloads included (to get on the list, you can subscribe here). I honestly look forward to sending out that email all week, because I’ve been getting amazing responses from you guys. I usually get a handful of emails in response, and a lot of them seem to be asking the same questions. That’s why today, I’m sharing a few of the questions I’ve been getting in a segment called Office Hours, where I answer your questions and give you advice on college life.

I’m a theatre student. Since we always finish late for rehearsals, I come home tired and still I have to do my homework and cram a lot. I really want to do my best for my grades but I can’t because I’m too tired. Can you give me any advice on time management and how to motivate myself?

– R, Philippines

Hey R! I was involved in a lot of extracurriculars when I was in high school and college, so I definitely know the feeling of not having enough hours in a day. Here are a few things you can try. #1 and 3 have been especially helpful for me!

1. Low-Density Fun to High-Density Fun

Start by tracking your time using a planner or a time management sheet (to get one for free, you can sign up for the Productivity Power Pack over here). Jot down the time you spend in class, in theater, and any time that’s “gray time” (on your phone, watching TV, etc) for a few days. That gray time is something that Thomas Frank over at College Info Geek calls “low-density fun” — free time that’s not really fun, but just spent kind of wasting time because we’re tired.
So the obvious answer is to turn that low-density fun into work time, right? Wrong! I think it’s so important to make sure you’re getting enough rest and fun during the day, but it needs to be worth it. So instead of lying on your bed browsing Snapchat (or whatever your guilty pleasure is!), turn that time into something that actually gives you energy. Maybe read, or go on a walk, or try meditation through free YouTube videos. That will give you more energy to do work during your homework hours!

2. Time Budgeting

Next, I would reflect on the tracking you’ve done in the previous step and to make a schedule for your ideal day. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and having at least a little fun each day. Then calculate your non-negotiables like class and theater, and your homework time. Take these steps and turn them into a schedule (I wrote about how to do this here, in Friday’s blog post)! This should help you find time periods where you may be able to get some more work done.

3. Early Morning Productivity

If you’re really struggling with the energy to work after theater, you could also try going to bed and waking up earlier, and doing your homework in the morning. Doing your work in the morning gives you more energy and focus for that work, and means that when you get tired after theater, you can use that time for your resting and fun. I just wrote a post on tips for structuring your morning routine for students — you can check that out here. You can also follow me on Nextbeat for daily morning motivation!

 

Those are my best tips for improving your time-management when you’re juggling a lot. I’d love to get some feedback from other readers though, so if you have any advice for R, share it in the comments below!

What’s your best tip for time management?

Sara Laughed

Sara is the founder of College Compass and an alumna of Wellesley College and Oxford University. She runs the popular blog Sara Laughed. Her greatest aspiration is to live a creative life fueled by love and coffee. Follow her onTwitter and Instagram at @SaraLaughed.