Dear 100 Hour Board,
How can I get to be better at managing my time and not feeling stressed? The combination of hard classes and a very demanding calling this semester is making it hard for me to have any time to just have fun and relax and be with friends. Also, what are some tips on doing well in a class even when you really hate it?
I really struggle with time management and have a demanding schedule as well. I'm sorry that you have so much going on.
A couple of things have worked for me to stay productive while not burning out. First, prioritizing sleep and not letting myself work past 10 pm has probably saved my sanity. Second, I write down what I'm doing every half hour so I have an idea of how I'm using my time. It's motivating and helps me to feel good about what I've accomplished. Also, when I see myself wasting a lot of time, I know I need to deliberately slow down and take care of myself before getting back to work. Not everyone likes tracking their time but for some people, it can be very helpful.
Best of luck with your crazy semester.
I am very bad at this, but I'll tell you some of the things that are helping me to improve.
First of all, try to drop things that you don't have to do. You can usually find things to drop, at least temporarily. I've done that quite a bit lately, and it's been really helpful. People have been extremely helpful and understanding.
Second, having an excellent calendar is a must for me. It helps me to focus on one thing at a time, which helps me get a lot more done than I would otherwise.
Third, plan out relaxing and fun things to do. While you're doing them, don't allow yourself to think about your other stresses. Those times are healing and extremely important to your health. The same goes for sleep.
Good luck with everything my friend.
Keep it real,
I feel for you. This is has been my hardest semester and I think I've probably pushed myself too much. It's hard to be doing so much and not have time to have fun, relax, and be with friends. I'm definitely not perfect at managing my time and stress, but I have learned a lot this semester. Here are some things that have helped me. I hope some of these might be useful to you.
- Plan things out and set reminders: Doing this has two purposes. The first is to make sure that you get everything done. The second is to make things easier by limiting the amount of things you have to keep track of. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me. I write down everything I need to do, I plan on doing my homework for certain classes the same time every week, I set reminders for important assignments or appointments, and I even set out the clothes I'm going to wear the night before so I don't have to think about it in the morning. I am a forgetful person and trying to remember everything is stressful, and when I'm already stressed my ability to remember goes down the drain. It's so nice to get up in the morning and not have to worry about what I’m going to do. All I have to do is follow my plans. I generally plan out my assignments a week in advance on the weekend so that I can go a whole week without having to re-plan.
- Avoid distractions and multi-tasking: Avoiding distractions is really important to making the most of your time. Some of my friends are in the TA Labs all the time, but they spend so much time texting and checking Facebook and watching YouTube that they don't get a lot done. If you buckle down and do things you'll be able to go home and relax sooner. Another benefit of only doing one thing at a time is that every time you switch tasks it takes mental energy. Checking Instagram or Twitter may only take 5 seconds, but it derails your train of thought, and it takes mental energy to get back on track. If I'm not getting TA help or doing homework with a friend I like to find a place where I'm alone to study and do homework so I can stay on task. I also highly recommend the app Pocket Points. You earn points by keeping your phone off for prolonged periods of time. You can use the points for discounts, and it helps you stay focused more. I downloaded the app and my phone usage per day has dropped by 45 minutes.
- It's okay to not be okay sometimes: If you are really busy and pushing yourself really hard it's going to be stressful and hard on you emotionally. There's no way around that fact really. There's a difference between relieving stress and bottling it up. Sometimes I tell myself that I'll be fine and to just keep plowing through for a while, but if I keep doing that I eventually get to a point were all my stress boils over and I'm a total wreck. It's okay to be stressed. You can manage your time and have a positive attitude, but being stressed sometimes is totally normal especially in difficult situations. Also, if you're always stressed and can't do it, it's okay to not do it. If you're reaching that point it's okay. Don't beat yourself up over it, just accept that it happens and get help. While it's okay to be stressed some of the time, if you're constantly over-stressed and it's affecting you a lot you should probably get help, and that's okay.
- It's okay for people to know you're not okay: Most conversations include the question "how are you doing?" Pretty much all the time the response is "fine" whether or not that's the truth. Now there are reasons we do this, and it's not a good idea to complain or spill your heart out to every one you talk to, but I think everybody needs at least one person they can be not okay with. That person for my is my cousin. The other day I was pretty much a wreck so I called her up and told her about what was going on and how I felt. Sometimes I feel pressure to put on a show for my friends or family about me being okay. I think that can lead to unhealthy attitudes that only compound stress and make it worse. Talking to someone really helps you work through your emotions and know you're loved. Whether this person is a close friend, a family member, or a therapist, having someone that can help you deal with stress is a life saver. I also recommend applying this practice in your personal prayers.
- Learn when you're burnt out and how to take breaks: Hopefully with good time management you can avoid burning out, but it's bound to happen. If you find that you're completely stuck on your homework and you aren't making any progress then stop. If your brain is fried and you're completely exhausted you're not going to retain a lot. If you aren't learning anything, and you aren't making progress on your homework all you're doing is wasting time and running yourself into the ground. Finding the balance between pushing yourself to the limit and pushing yourself over the edge is difficult, but extremely important. Your personal physical, mental and emotional well-being is key to your ability to do well in school. If you don't take care of yourself it will hurt your school work in the long run. I know that's easier said than done but it's important to take care of yourself, and not just for school.
I hope these tips are helpful to you. Know that we're pulling for you and that Christ is pulling with you. If you ever need someone to vent to feel free to email me at email@example.com. Good luck with your classes and calling. You're awesome. Keep up the good work and take care of yourself!
My biggest piece of advice is to have a planner. Hopefully you already have one, but if not, I love BYU's planners. I think they're technically meant for freshmen but I love them so much that I keep buying them every year.
Set time aside to have fun. This helps with three things: first, you'll be less likely to waste time when you should be working because you know you have a scheduled fun time coming up; second, you won't feel guilty about having fun and hanging out with friends because you'll have planned for it; and third, you'll have fun and be happier. It's a win-win-win!
If your calling is demanding, see if you can have others take over some responsibility. Don't be afraid to say no to extra assignments. Talk to your bishop or other leaders for advice. While church callings are great and give you a chance to serve, they aren't meant to take you away from your friends and fill your life with stress.
When I hate a class I try to find some reason to love it (or at least somewhat like it). This can include either finding some material or questions from the class that interest you or making a really awesome study group. And even if you continue hating it and don't do well, Alta puts it perfectly: don't beat yourself up over not being perfect. After you graduate (and even before you graduate), people aren't going to care that much about your grades. I know people who got C's and D's at BYU to later get into Yale for a PhD. There's a lot more to future success than grades (something I really wished I had learned earlier).
You got this!!
-guppy of doom
Starting this most recent fall semester, I have been facing the most intense workload and schedule of my life. By trial of fire, it has forced me to learn to be better at managing my stress/time, and finding a level I am okay with for performing in classes I don't like (particularly one class I soon came to despise last semester). Here are those things that have helped me:
- Don't do things just cause they're the things you're ostensibly supposed to do. If you will get more out of studying for an imminent midterm than attending a certain class, study for the midterm instead (note: you may have still gotten a lot out of the class you're skipping--that's not the point here; the point is that you get more from not going in a general life sense). If you can afford to turn in an incomplete homework, and it's taking too long to complete, stop working on that homework, and eat the loss in points.
- Make time for something to keep you sane that's not school related. Believe me, I know this is hard, but it will shore you up against burn out, and help reduce stress levels. For me, I do a half hour of yoga most days a week, and it's definitely worth the time it takes.
- Know precisely what your priorities per week are. Different classes or life events take precedence according to a variety of different factors. Make sure to be conscious of this fact, and use it in deciding what you're going to do less well as a result.
- For classes you hate, just do it. Keep in mind that it's only one semester, and then buckle down and do what you need to. Yeah, it's unpleasant, but it will pass.
I just want to say that it's totally okay if you don't excel in classes you hate. Yes, it would be awesome if as people we could be enthused about life and classes all the time, but that's just not realistic. There will always be classes we dislike, and we will probably perform worse in them than in the classes we love. That doesn't mean you're a bad student or didn't try hard enough, just that you're human. Go to class, take notes, do the homework, study for the tests, and if in the end your grade is less than stellar, you did what you could. Don't beat yourself up over not being perfect. And that includes not beating yourself up if sometimes you don't finish your homework, or you miss class occasionally, or whatever else. Life happens, and it will continue to happen (and even be pretty darn awesome) even if you don't perform at your absolute best at all times.