IMSA, as you’ve probably discovered at this point, is far more than classes, friends, and sleep. Along with your academic and social responsibilities, you may find yourself swamped with extracurricular activities. Somehow, you have to complete all the work for your classes and extracurricular commitments while still talking to your friends and getting (almost) adequate amounts of sleep.
Most of you have probably heard people say that you can only have two among these choices: sleep, a social life, or grades. Although you’ll discover your own footing eventually, here are a few tips to manage your time so that you can conquer all three.
Plan your day out:
Using a planner or calendar can create ease of mind when organizing your assignments and thoughts for the day, and it can also hold you accountable for your work. Tyler Fullilove (’19) says, “When I use a planner, I can write all the details of my life down, all the assignments I have to do, the GAs I want to attend, and and all the club meetings I have so that I won’t forget them when things become really hectic.” Each time you receive an assignment or a meeting, write it down in your organizer of choice so that you don’t have to rely on your brain to remember everything. As you complete your tasks, you can rest easy knowing you’ve checked each responsibility off your list. If you don’t have a planner or calendar, you can pick one up during a Target trip or with your parents, or you can opt for Sticky Notes, Google Calendar, and Google Keep on your laptop.
So, maybe you can’t accomplish everything on your plate sometimes…that’s okay. The best thing you can do when you feel overwhelmed is prioritize. If you can go without completing a task, you should. It’s up to you what you decide is the most important on your plate, but when you make that decision, be sure it’s one you won’t regret. Pascal Adhikary (’20) says “I end up talking to people instead of doing homework, but sleep doesn’t really matter so it’s fine.” This may be the philosophy of many at IMSA, but it doesn’t have to be yours. Test the waters before you begin sacrificing homework, extracurriculars, social commitments, or sleep before you make any major decisions.
Create a Routine:
Everyone has different methods to achieve maximum productivity. Gary Yang (’18) reveals he enjoys “over-committing myself so that I use the free time that I have productively,” whereas Abhiudaya Bhalla (’18) recommends to “do what you love last, then you have something to look forward to.” Knowing yourself is incredibly important when determining your study habits. Different routines work for different people but a few questions you should ask yourself are these:
Where am I most productive?
Perhaps you work best in your room. In which case, create a study environment which you can use to your full advantage. However, some people might find their room too cluttered, and in that case, each wing has a clear and quiet study room for students to use. Maybe you prefer the IRC or Loft, so you choose to stay in the main building after school to finish all your work.
Who am I most productive with?
If you need someone to hold you accountable for working, do your work with other people. If you prefer working alone, feel free to fly solo and pump out assignments at your own pace. Sometimes, studying with your friends might not work, but creating study groups with people who will keep you in line might prove successful for you.
When am I most productive?
Establishing a set work time for yourself to accomplish assignments for classes and extra-curriculars may help you sleep more and find more time for your friends. If you can’t seem to stay awake past midnight, make it your goal to get your work done during the day. Although, if you can’t focus right after you get out of school, use that time to socialize or nap before starting your work at a time that works for you.
Overall, everyone works differently and with varying schedules, classes, priorities, and preferences. Time management and quality study habits are acquired through trial and error; however, if you’re still in the process of finding what works for you, these tips might prove useful.