This week you've got six classes to attend, hours of studying to do for several exams, track practice, a fraternity meeting, not to mention all of your chores, and a part-time job.
You wake up, make a to-do list, and start your day.
Twelve hours later, you've won a few rounds of Fortnite and gotten lunch with your friends. As you finally tell your friends you have to do homework, your buddy knocks on the door.
There's a party going on full of baddies not to mention a few kegs... and while your homework is important, well, alcohol.
Another to-do list turned graveyard of tasks never accomplished, and another morning of regret.
Been there, done that, and it's not good. If you find yourself procrastinating and all too often missing deadlines, it's time to make a change.
In this post, we're talking schedules and productivity - more specifically, how to schedule your time in college to get sh*t done.
Let's jump in:
Should You Schedule Your Time in College?
Here's the short answer:
Yes, you should.
Scheduling your time - whether you're in college our out in 'the real world' - is one of the best ways to become more productive.
When you create a to-do list without knowing when you're going to knock the tasks out, your attempt at productivity usually turns into a graveyard of things never accomplished. Especially when in college, it's easy to get distracted and procrastinate.
A well thought out schedule, on the other hand, combines the to-do list with a plan of action. You know exactly what you'll be doing, and when you'll be doing it.
Many people I've talked to hate the idea of making a schedule. They think it's too much work, or the schedule will keep them from doing the things they want to do.
"Well if I make a schedule I won't have any time to do fun things like video games and seeing friends."
Well, no, that's wrong. A schedule helps you accomplish what you want to accomplish in the day, including leisure activities like going out with friends.
Start by thinking to yourself, "If I could set up my day/week as best I could - so that I could do everything I want to do - what would that look like?"
From there, you can schedule your time accordingly.
Even if you only execute the schedule with 30% accuracy, that's still a whole heck of a lot better than before.
Creating a schedule will help you get to class on time, study consistently, work, play sports, see friends, and yes, get absolutely shitfaced if that's you're thing (I had time blocked off from 7 PM Saturday until Sunday afternoon for partying/recovery...)
In summary, scheduling your time doesn't limit you - it helps you optimize your week to have the best possible outcome. Scheduling your time in college is especially helpful if you feel overwhelmed and stressed out with everything on your plate.
How to Make a Schedule in College
Typically a schedule creation session takes about an hour, so I like to set time aside Sunday evening to plan before the week begins.
I know an hour of planning sounds like a lot - you could be doing other things with that time - but the productivity benefit of creating your schedule far outweighs the cost of creation.
Furthermore, schedule creation is actually quite therapeutic. You'd be surprised how much you keep in your head - once those to-dos are listed out on paper and scheduled, you'll have a battle plan. It helps you feel less overwhelmed and more in control of your future.
Getting everything out of your head is the first step.
1. Brain Dump
I like to start with a 'brain dump.' I use a notepad, either on your computer or a physical journal, to write down everything I have to do that week.
The goal here is getting everything out of your brain and written down so you can visualize everything and find time for it.
I like to use different categories too, like school, work, personal, and social life.
Class, studying, going to the library, etc. fall under the school category; meditation, reading, and exercise go under personal, etc. Don't be afraid to write down the things you want to do that aren't incredibly productive.
It's better to schedule a time for video games, friends, etc. than to force yourself to be productive all the time, only to fail because that's impossible.
Write down everything that comes to mind, big or small. You want everything out of your head and ideally, categorized into their own groups.
2. Estimate Time
With your list of action items out of your head and on paper, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed upon realizing how many things are on your plate. Don't worry, soon you'll have everything squared away.
Look at each item on the list, and write down how much time it'll take you. Some things like classes are easy to estimate, as they have a fixed time and you know how long it'll take to go to and from the class. Other activities aren't so easy to estimate, like working on homework, a project, or studying.
Estimate how long it'll take you to complete the task, and then add an hour (people tend to underestimate how much time/energy any given task will take).
3. Schedule Your Rocks
Now that you're actually scheduling time, I recommend using an app like Google Calendar. It's free and syncs with your phone so you'll get push notification reminders of upcoming events.
The most important activities you have to get done - and will most likely take up the most time - are your rocks. These are non-negotiable, make, or break items. Take some time to review your big picture goals, and make sure your main rock activities align with those goals.
As a college student, your rocks are probably classes, study sessions, clubs/fraternity events, etc. Study those activities first throughout your week - then you can schedule the rest of your activities around your rocks.
When I was in college, I scheduled my classes throughout the week, time to work on my affiliate website, along with study sessions and mandatory events for clubs. Those were the most important tasks that had to be completed.
With those scheduled, you can move on to the secondary activities.
4. Fill In The Cracks
With your main activities out of the way, you can schedule a time for the rest. Time for reading, hitting the gym, doing laundry, cleaning your car, meditating, and seeing friends are all things to include here.
I recommend leaving some gaps between activities as well - you'll probably want some downtime in between, not to mention the fact that life is unpredictable and you should plan accordingly.
Having every single second of your day blocked off is unrealistic, but walking through life blindfolded, without a plan, is an equally bad (if not worse) idea.
5. Review & Revise Schedule Nightly
Making a schedule for the week ahead on Sunday is great, but as I said above, life throws you curveballs, and odds are you'll accomplish more - or less - than you thought you would on any given day.
Creating a weekly schedule is a great way to project your action plan, but it's also useful to take 5-10 minutes a night to revise your schedule and make adjustments where necessary.
Look at what you finished and what you didn't get around to, and update the schedule for the next day based on those insights.
This way, you not only have a high level plan for your week, but also a granular look at your day to day schedule. Revising your schedule nightly will help you optimize your week and productivity.
Can't Wake Up Early?
Ever tried to schedule your week with ambitious goals of waking up early, but can't seem to get out of bed when the alarm goes off?
It's easy to make a productive schedule that starts at 6 AM, but if you can't get your *ss out of bed in the morning, you'll throw off the rest of your day.
We all know waking up early is important, but actually doing so is another story (especially if you're not a morning person).
We had the same problem at Club Early Bird and decided to finally master our mornings. That led us to discover the 3 secrets to easily wake up early and get sh*t done.
The 3 Secrets to Easily Wake Up Early
After months of tireless research, testing, and experimenting, we discovered the three secrets to waking up early without feeling tired and groggy.
Making sure your body is hydrated first thing in the morning is essential.
Drinking water is a good start, but giving your body electrolytes is the best way to nourish your body with 'supercharged hydration' when it needs it most.
2. Fast-absorbing, Long-lasting Energy
When your car is left out in the freezing cold, it needs a jump start to get going. Your body is the same way.
Your brain goes into sleep mode overnight, and your muscles relax. That's why giving your body a fast-absorbing source of energy is crucial. Otherwise, you'll be stuck feeling groggy, sluggish, and tired.
But you don't just want a quick boost followed by a crash - the fast-absorbing energy also needs to be long-lasting, so you can get sh*t done all day without hitting a wall.
3. Mood Enhancement
Your morning mood has been proven to affect the rest of your day - waking up hydrated and energized is excellent, but it won't help if you're pissed off and angry before you even get out of bed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we receive about making a schedule in college:
Can you make your own schedule in college?
Unlike high school, colleges let you pick what you're studying and when from a menu of different topics and availabilities.
You can frontload all of your classes in the morning, at night, or in the afternoon. It's also possible to take Friday or Monday off, giving you a three day weekend of sorts.
However, you can only pick classes and times as they're available, and the 'good' classes tend to fill up fast. Most people don't want to take 8 AM classes, so they tend to have more availability than a class starting at 11 AM.
At my school, seniors had the first pick, followed by juniors and sophomores, so as a freshman I had to take a few 8 AM classes I didn't want during my first semester.
Either way, you can definitely make your own schedule in college.
How do I make the most of my time in college?
Reviewing your top goals and making a schedule that aligns with them is the best way to make the most of your time in college. While many college students - and people - walk through life seemingly blindfolded, you can create a schedule and kick college's *ss.
Figure out what you're after, and make an action plan to get there. Aim up, but don't set the bar too high. Even making little improvements is a great way to propel yourself towards your goal. Best of all, those little improvements will compound exponentially and add up to massive success if you keep at it.
You are your habits, and your habits are who you are. Someone who schedules their week and consistently goes to class/studies on time is a good student, and a good student consistently goes to class/studies. Does that make sense?
What time should I study?
I usually found myself studying at night because I waited until the last minute, but studying in the morning always made me feel the most productive and prepared. You should figure out what works for you and plan accordingly (hence a schedule) but in general, I liked to study in the morning. You can check out our post about studying in the morning vs at night here.
Making a schedule in college is the most surefire way to propel yourself towards your goals and actually get sh*t done, rather than making a to-do list without an action plan for implementation.
Review your goals, brain dump your tasks, schedule your rocks, fill in the cracks, and revise nightly - do those things, and you'll instantly become more productive.
Even if you don't hit the schedule with 100% accuracy, you'll still be way better off than before.