A How-To Guide for Managing a Hectic Schedule

Molly Benson

For many students, the most difficult lesson we will learn throughout our collegiate career is not Freudian principles or theories of intelligence, but rather, time management. We find ourselves struggling to balance our academic, social, and family lives and often discover that we are lacking in one of these essential categories. So is there a perfect balance? And if so, how is it achieved? That depends on the person, but there is a basic guideline that I hope to describe.

As an undergraduate senior with 3 majors and a minor, I have unfortunately discovered the hard way (after three and a half long years, might I add) how to find a balance between academia, and family and friends. During their freshman and sophomore years, many undergraduates find themselves devoting a majority of their time to their social lives while school gets put on the back burner. On the other hand, during the junior and senior years of their undergraduate careers, their social lives are often neglected so they can focus entirely on academics. This can be mentally taxing and unnecessary; why not devote a semi-equal amount of time, with more of an emphasis on school, for your entire undergraduate career?

In order for me to find this balance I had to think of school not as school, but as a job – one that you are paying for. During the week, life is dedicated to school. Time is split between going to classes, studying, and spending time in the lab as a research assistant. As your education progresses, so will the amount of time you spend on research. Also, as a senior you get to study not only for your classes, but for graduate school entrance exams as well. Typically, I reserve about an hour a day for this studying and more extensive amounts of time on the weekend.

On that note, I cannot stress how important it is to seek out opportunities as a research assistant. You get to see everything you have learned in class happening in real time: you experience psychological research in action. You receive hands-on experience in the lab, learning procedure and applying all of those lovely statistics that you learned in class. On top of that you have the opportunity to develop connections to graduate students who have already gone through the undergraduate process, and who can provide helpful hints for internship opportunities as well as advice when it comes to applying to graduate programs. Not to mention, it looks pretty nice on your curriculum vitae.

The weekend should be a time to take a break from school and enjoy other aspects of life. Doing schoolwork and studying 24 hours a day, seven days a week is a good way to get burnt out on school fast, and nobody wants that. With this being said, I usually take Friday and Saturday night to spend with friends and family. Go catch a movie or go out on the town, anything to take my mind off school for a little bit. I usually reserve Saturday and Sundays during the day for community activities and volunteer work. It is critical, in my opinion, to be involved in the community for CV purposes; but more importantly, it helps you to be a well-rounded citizen. And what if nothing is going on in the community? Well then sleep in, run errands, indulge yourself, and if all else fails, hit the books for some catch-up.

I hope this has provided some help for anyone needing assistance with balancing a hectic schedule. They key is simple: time management.

Author Note:
Molly attends the University of Oklahoma and majors in psychology, zoology-biomedical sciences, and Spanish with a minor in chemistry and is applying to medical school this summer in hopes of pursuing a career in psychiatry.