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What are some methods for prioritizing when overwhelmed with schoolwork/activities?

As an incoming freshman in college, I'm excited about classes, making new friends, and joining extracurricular activities. However, am nervous I could get overwhelmed with work and commitments. What is the best way to prioritize in college? #prioritizing #time-management

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Rachel’s Answer

<span style="background-color: transparent;">You have to set a routine for yourself and stick to it for the most part. Once you get into the groove of a routine it will be much easier for you to manage your time and have enough time for everything you need to do (including relaxing). Make yourself to-do lists on a weekly basis, use Google calendar or a planner to keep track of events, deadlines, and due dates. In addition to setting a routine and sticking to it, plan out relaxing activities into your day. Or set aside a time, after everything is done for the day, that you can have "me" time. I have also personally found it essential to not only find time for myself but also make use of that time in a way that is best for me and my holistic wellness. I have found the HeadSpace app to be an essential tool in helping me relax and generally feel more relaxed throughout the day, Guided meditation, even if you have a busy schedule, will make you feel more at ease and relaxed throughout the day as a whole (not just when you have the time to relax and focus on that "me" time).</span>

<span style="background-color: transparent;">Set a routine.Use Google Calendar.Set aside Me TimeWrite weekly to-do lists and use a planner.Find a peaceful and restful activity that will help you feel relaxed.</span>

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Harry’s Answer

First and foremost, congratulations! You should be proud of yourself for getting into college and should be excited for the next steps forward! Now before becoming overwhelmed about what lays ahead, take a second and realize that you've already done much of this while working to get into college. Whether you did a lot of extracurriculars or not, the 8 hour a day workload of High School and the variety of classes you are required to take already gave you some great experience in how to prioritize a full schedule.


With that being said, let's get into a few thoughts that might be able to help you. I know personally, when I first came in as a freshman, I decided to get a job, take classes, and join greek life. The easiest way for me to maintain all of these activities was to take it step by step very methodically. I made sure to center my focus on the task at hand, for example when I went to my class in the morning , that would be my only focus. Than my job, than extracurriculares. Try not to bunch it all together and you'll be fine. Another great strategy is utilizing your Iphone to set up reminders for everything you have to do, this will bring you peace of mind knowing you can get notifications directly to your phone and you'll never forget.


Lastly, take a deep breath and relax! No one is perfect and coming into college you won't immediately know how to handle all the different activities you want to do, but if you go in with an open mind, and a willingness to learn, you'll have a great experience and fall into a routine that works great for you.

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Michelle’s Answer

It sounds like you have two concerns going on here; prioritizing what is truly important to you, and making those important things all fit in your life.


College is an especially exciting time to branch out and try new things--part of your prioritizing will undoubtedly involve this exploration in addition to what you already value. I ended up with the same questions my first year of college. There's so many exciting activities to try, topics to learn and explore, that it can be easy to sign up for everything and find yourself swamped.


I'd encourage you to still sign up for anything that catches your interest. Go to a meeting or two, feel it out, maybe even jot down notes of what you think to look back on later. Then, I'd recommend applying a time management grid to break down your priorities, the kind referenced in Stephen Covey's "7 habits of highly effective people". For this, you break interests/tasks into two categories; "urgent/not urgent" and "important/not important". From this grid you can help refocus yourself each day to make sure that you're not hitting only urgent tasks and letting important but non urgent items (setting your long term coursework plan in place, looking out for internships/volunteering that ties into your field) fall by the wayside.


To further prioritize and organize your activities, I'd recommend you check out mind mapping. This article helps explain it in detail; https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/05/19/as-a-startup-ceo-what-is-your-favorite-productivity-hack/5931a28b6887

By getting all of your idle thoughts, goals, and possibilities out on paper you can start to sort through them. You may find that once it's staring back at you on paper, your goals don't actually match your current actions. From that realization you can start to redirect your path.


Most importantly, enjoy this stage of your life! Explore the possibilities with an open mind and try new things!

Michelle recommends the following next steps:

Check out Stephen Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People"
Take a look at the following article for time management tips to fit it all in ; https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/05/19/as-a-startup-ceo-what-is-your-favorite-productivity-hack/5931a28b6887
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Chaofan’s Answer

Great question Acacia. My worst semester came with four finals, two 10+ pages paper and two final projects, in one month. My method may not be optimal, but what I did to prevent myself from being burnt out is as following:

  1. Set a time frame.
  2. Write a list of what you need to do, and what you want to do within that time frame.
  3. Focus on your need-to-dos first, prioritize them based on their due dates (or any other order that makes sense to you)
  4. Allocate your time (each day) to all your need-to-dos in a way that you don't miss your deadline
  5. As you plan out and allocate your time, if you realize it is really impossible to finish all your tasks, reach out for help, professors will always understand you if you reasonably explain.
  6. If you think it's doable, then focus on one task a time, track you time,  try to finish the task within the time you allocate to and give yourself some break.
  7. After you finish one task, CROSS IT OFF from you list because it gives you enormous satisfaction and make you feel less pressured.
  8. Don't try to rush out everything in 1 week or 1 day, as long as you are tracking your time and things are within your plan, you should feel comfortable about it.
  9. Get enough sleep.
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