Corporate Responsibility Marketing at Dell
Always a tough one, isn't it? There can be a lot of distractions, especially after coming off the regimented world of high school. The most important thing I found was to create a routine and try to stick to it. Here at the beginning of the year, you're going to want to experiment a little with what works best for you, but you may already know some of that. Are you someone who studies better in the morning? Maybe there's an hour between classes where you can do that - it's an hour less work you have to do later and if you do it for 3 weeks, it'll become a habit.
Another tough one is pacing yourself. That's why that routine is important. Can't tell what kind of classes you're taking, but if they involve long-term projects, one of the most important things you can do with them is to map them out. We do that at work a lot, establishing a timeline for when things need to get done. So if you have a class where there is a long paper due in the middle of the semester, work backwards and go through the steps you would need to accomplish to get it written. Be realistic about how much time you can/will put into something - and then add 10-15% more time to get it done (it ALWAYS takes longer :) ). If your paper is going to involve a lot of reading, working backwards from the end product will also help you figure out how much time you can put into that reading. If you need 2 weeks to draft, edit and revise your paper before you're done, that means you MUST cut off your reading 2 weeks out. Don't budge on that part of it.
Couple other tips I learned along the way: 1) Find a place on campus where you can spend that hour (or more). No distractions. I had two of them: one was the special collections library, because it was a beautiful place to work and no one ever came in there. The other was a coffee shop just a bit off campus where the staff (made up mostly of music majors) would sing on their breaks. It was a great way for me to keep time and take my breaks, but I could also sit in there for hours. Make those your places - not places for shared work. There are many other places to meet people, work in groups, etc.
2) Be excited about the class. Sometimes it's because you love the subject. Or the professor. Or you know it is a stepping stone to better things. But whatever you do, approach it as something that is worth putting time into. After all, you're paying a TON of money. Don't take stuff that isn't going to help you grow.
3) Know your optimal amount of time to work through something. This takes a lot of practice. Personally, I do best working 40 min on, about 5 min off. If I power through for an hour (or more), I get sloppy. That 5-minute break is super important for me. Get up and walk, around the desk and do some stretches if you literally have nothing else to do. I STILL do that at work.
4) Give yourself a break. College is a great time to figure it out. Try things. You say you're not good at managing your time. If you want to get better at it, here's a great opportunity to figure out what will work for you. You're not going to get it right immediately and it may change over time. College is what you make of it. Get the most out of it - you'll be happy you did.