Ask Anna: Managing your time

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Anna Lowenthal, Editor-in-Chief

Q: Dear Anna, I’m a first-year student here at Illinois Wesleyan University, and I’m feeling like I’ll never be able to finish all of this homework. How can I better schedule my time?

A: The level of academia at Illinois Wesleyan is much, much more intense than what we’ve experienced in high school. While you might have been able to get away with sleeping in class and not reading your books a few months ago, you’re in for a bit of a wakeup call here.

IWU is unique in the sense that it is a small, intimate environment. There are 11 students to every professor on campus, so not only will your professor know when you’re not in class – they might even call you on your personal cell phone to ask why you’re not there. This means that the study habits you kept in high school, while they may have worked there, will probably not work here.

If you want to do well, you’re going to have to put your nose to the proverbial grindstone (not to the butt of your professor) and do the work that they’ve asked of you. No cutting corners – no trips to Sparknotes, no Googling answers from the textbook and definitely don’t just grab answers from your friends. You’re at this university to complete an education you’ve chosen for yourself – have some integrity and earn that education.

Make time for your classwork. For every hour you spend in class, you’re supposed to spend about three hours of time working outside of the class. Expect to spend that time.

With extra-curriculars, friends, family and significant others (and the list goes on), it can feel like you won’t have enough time to ‘be a person’ as well as a student. While this may be true some days, it isn’t always – especially if you plan your time well.

We’ve all been given a handy-dandy student planner that has already mapped out IWU’s calendar as well as given you a convenient way to keep track of your schoolwork. When you get your syllabus for the semester, write down important due dates for papers, presentations and projects, etc., and figure out weeks in advance when you’ll be feeling the biggest brunt of scholarly stress. Plan around it. If you know you’ve got two papers due on the same day a month before they’re due, you can plan ahead and make time to write one of them before the other instead of try to tackle both at once, lose sleep for a week, age yourself by twenty years and have at least two and a half mental breakdowns.

Break up your work. While 250 pages of reading in a week seems pretty daunting, but it becomes manageable when you turn it into 35 pages, or about an hour and fifteen minutes of reading a day.

The most successful people wake up with an end-goal for every day. If you schedule your day hour by hour (including time for eating, sleeping and hanging out with friends), you’ll be amazed at how much more you get done simply because you made the plan to do it.

As ridiculous as it may sound, set up a reward system for yourself. Sometimes all you need to motivate yourself to trudge through hours of homework is the knowledge that when it’s all over, you get to treat yo’self with an ice cream sandwich and an episode from your favorite show. You’d work harder at your job if you knew you’d get a bonus, right? So give yourself some incentives – you’ll be surprised with the results.

With the level of work required at Wesleyan, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Just stay on top of your studies, plan ahead and make sure you reward yourself for all the hard work you’ve done – after all, you’ll have earned it!