Time Economics: how millennials can be more productive during finals and beyond

Dan Rice

Dan Rice
Dan Rice

Just about everyone I know reiterates the same problem when it comes to getting homework done, working while going to school and trying to prepare for their future during college: they don’t have enough time.

Or at least, that’s what we claim. And yet we work 40 hours a week, go to school and do assignments for about 25, sleep for about 56 and probably commute and eat about 14 hours a week — leaving 33 hours to do whatever we want.

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Granted, this doesn’t take into account the other important things that may occupy our time, but if we subtract unnecessary things from our lives and time manage more effectively, it may not be so difficult to get things done that we must and do more things that we’re passionate about. Here are some examples of how to work on your time management at this crucial point in the semester, and in the future.

1. Text after your assignment, not during it. In the book “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence,” author Daniel Goleman discusses how people being so latched onto their smartphones is detrimental to many different aspects of their lives: their memory, their attention span and their ability to complete tasks effectively, like essays and projects. He says it is mentally exhausting to constantly jump from one center of focus to another, and that affects our ability to retain information (like class notes) and to keep our minds focused on one thing at a time (like a paper). I’m not saying that we should never communicate with friends; being social is important. Nevertheless, turning off your internet and cellular connections during class and homework may do your GPA a favor.

2. Find balance. When I try to manage my time without enjoying myself a little, I find I eventually give in to temptation and do the opposite by being lazy. Just because you’re doing one thing at a time doesn’t mean some of those things can’t be fun. The trick is to get that paper done efficiently first so you have spare time for the good things in life.

3. Early to bed, early to rise. In the book “What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast,” author Laura Vanderkan makes a strong argument for going to bed early and waking up early. One reason is that few people are up that early, so distractions will be minimal while you get things done before school or work. That means you can knock out assignments or a workout so you’re not dreading them all day, or just have some “me” time before the day starts so you can focus later. The other reason, according to Vanderkan, is because most people don’t really get anything important done at night — a fact I can attest to. Try waking up a little earlier so you can relax in the morning, do something stress-free, and be ready for the day when it starts.

It may be a little late in the semester to recommend all this, because doing all of it at once is a big lifestyle change for most people. But try implementing these things in your life and you might just find the phrase “I have time” popping up a little more often.

Collegian Columnist Dan Rice can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @danriceman.