Develop the Best Strategy to Get Your Life Together in College

By: Tasha Kolesnikova

13 min



Develop the Best Strategy to Get Your Life Together in College

Being organized in college can be challenging, especially if you're a working student. But the tips mentioned below will surely help you pull your sh** together.

Why Should You Be Organized At All?

College is the first stage of the long, long adult life path. Now you’re intended to gain new knowledge and skills, and then you’ll have the opportunity to implement them in the real world, trying different careers and personal projects, looking for your place under the sun. To make this path easier, you can organize your life in order not to waste it away. As a result, you’ll earn the desired grades, praise from your professors, and, what is the most important, peace of mind.

So, let's get rolling and learn some crucial ways to ace your college life and achieve personal development:

Get Rid of Time-Management Issues


Though there is an incredible amount of student opportunities these days, you have only 24 hours in a day. Your task is to use them as efficiently as possible through student time management.

Get a Calendar

You may think that this tip sounds obvious. However, exactly because of its simplicity, many college students forget about it and underestimate its value. Just start keeping records, writing out important events, and marking dates, e.g. deadlines of your college projects, seminars, conferences, etc. You’ll understand better when you have the opportunity to take the pause, and when you should be especially concentrated.

Besides, there are pretty many modern calendars these days: traditional ones, for weekly or monthly planning, motivational ones, etc. You can use standard apps from Google or Apple, look for interesting alternatives, or even take some time and develop your own one.

Know Your Strong and Weak Points and Develop the Schedule

Most students are well-aware of procrastination. It is when you’re doing everything but not the task you need to finish even though the deadline is looming. This can be very stressful because you waste a lot of time and blame yourself. Instead of blaming, think about how you can save the situation.

First of all, track your study habits. Are there some tasks that you do more eagerly than others? What assignments do you always try to avoid? Then, when you have enough information to work with, you can develop a strategy.
For example, Brian Tracy, a famous motivational blogger suggests to “eat that frog”. It means that you should start the day with the most complicated task (or part of the task). Once you finish it, you feel the sky’s limit, and it will give you more energy and self-confidence. There is also an alternative option: to start with the easiest one. Then you’ll be happy enough to continue working.

It would also be a good idea to develop your personal schedule according to your habits. For example, you can solve math problems in the morning, and write essays in the evening.

Give Yourself a Break

Being too stressed can only make this worse. Stress can make your brain foggy, and you may end up making a lot of silly mistakes in your assignment. So, it's better to step away from this project for a bit when it starts to get on your nerves. Doing something that you enjoy during that break is preferable. There are some options for you to choose from:

  • watch a remaining episode of the season you're following on Netflix;
  • chit chat with a friend;
  • play a video game;
  • do some yoga or other physical activities;
  • have a walk;
  • take a short nap;
  • meditate.

Even if you're on a tight deadline, taking a productive break can help you achieve great results. But don't forget to get back on track soon.

Start Journaling

Keeping a journal is another great way to evaluate your life and become more successful. Writing your thoughts and feelings helps you see yourself objectively and reflect on your experiences. Reflection itself gives your mind a chance to pause amidst the chaos. It helps you untangle and learn important lessons from your experiences. While reflecting, consider different possible interpretations to extract the actual meaning. This, in turn, can shape your future mindsets and actions.

So, don't be afraid to write whatever comes into your mind. Make a habit of doing a self-reflection, at least weakly. You may also look for some writing prompts or adult coloring page printables available online. There are some reflexing questions you can start with:

  • What are the 5 things you’re the most grateful for?
  • Make a list of your priorities for the week, month, year, 5 years.
  • If you could change one thing in the past, what would it be?
  • What do you think, what is your role in the world?
  • What disciplines does your college lack, and why are they so important?
  • What helps you stand out among other students?
  • What can make you really happy right now or in the long-term perspective?

Don’t Waste Time Checking Your Email Inbox All Day Long

Enabling push email notifications is the best way to keep your emails organized. Also, it makes sure you don't miss an important email. Furthermore, you may choose to create folders for different subjects and pin important emails. Additionally, it's always to keep separate accounts for your college, online shopping, and other stuff.

When you have your email box organized, you don’t have to check it all the time, trying to remember where you put the important letter.

Make Your Body Your Helper


There are always days when we extremely need the energy to keep going. It is impossible to face the challenge bravely when your body is exhausted. Take care of your physical health so that it can provide you with fuel for new achievements.

Do Sports

It is a no-brainer that sports are very important for our wellness, but many students undervalue their power. First of all, it keeps us healthy. When you have a strong body, it affects your brain as well, and you can study more efficiently. Besides, doing sports, you get even more opportunities, e.g. it increases your scholarship chances, enhances your reputation among other students. At least, you receive a hobby that brings you joy. Yes, sports are not necessarily tedious and exhausting. You can choose whatever format you like: jogging alone or with friends, gym training, swimming, training with a coach, etc.

Competitive sports like basketball, football, lacrosse, etc. will armor you with life traits that are worth cherishing. It equips you with:

  • strategic thinking;
  • self-belief;
  • leadership skills;
  • risk-taking ability and the list never ends.

Therefore, make sure to bring physical activity into your weekly routine, if not daily. It keeps you motivated and provides you with the momentum required to get a grip and channelize your energies in the right direction. Extracurricular activities like sports tend to make you resilient. Most importantly, it enriches you with the never-give-up attitude.

Hence, sports are a must to put your life together in college and produce fruitful results. It does not just promote physical well-being but also mental health.

Get Enough Sleep

Remember, you flourish when you rest well. Even when you think you need to study a lot, sleep should be a crucial part of your daily routine. If you are deprived of it, you are most likely to mess things up. Hence, make sure you sleep for a good amount of time every day and wake up full of energy.

Most people need about 7-8 hours per 24 hours, but some students need even more because their cognitive performance requires enough energy. The interesting fact is that our memory works even when we are sleeping. And if you want to pass your exams with flying colors, it is better to get a nap than to sacrifice your sleep pouring over textbooks.

What is also important is the quality of your sleep. Make sure that:

  • your bed and pillow are comfortable enough;
  • your room is well ventilated;
  • there is a cozy and relaxing atmosphere: no bright lighting, soft music, etc.;
  • you get to bed not too late (preferably at 10 or 11 p.m.).

And don’t check the news before sleeping!

Reward Yourself

Are you finding it hard to focus on your schoolwork? Think about something you would like to do. Tell yourself that you're going to reward yourself with whatever you want once you are done with the task. For instance, do you have the assignment to submit? Once it is completed, you can watch your favorite series on Netflix, spend time on social media, meet your friends at a party, or even go for a weekend journey.

Also, it is important to take a pause, take a look at your goal setting, and reward yourself before jumping on the next assignment.

Your Mental Health Should Be Your Priority


If you feel some difficulties with your studies, it is not because you’re not smart enough. There might be different barriers, and some of them can be solved not with a lot of work but with a lot of rest. And with a bit of good daily habits.

Say “No” If You Feel That Way

Saying no is just fine and normal. It is a blessing in disguise in the roadmap for organizing oneself. You tend to set your boundaries. It is a way to regain the lost ground and personal space. When you’re loaded up with tasks you don’t really like, you surely feel exhausted.

Of course, we don’t say that you should ignore your professors’ assignments: there are always things that it is impossible to reject. However, you shouldn’t write essays for your friends all the time. Don’t come up with lame excuses, just say no. If it looks challenging, think about your priorities. Are you interested in this favor? How will you benefit from it? Your well-being must be your priority. Say No often. This eventually will help you get your life together in college.

Don’t Bail on Your Home Duties

You may think that we are crazy. You can’t find a free minute to finish your college project, and we ask you to focus on home duties? There are several reasons for that.

The very first of them is related to the broken windows theory. When your room is in a mess, don’t be surprised that your college life is in a mess as well. It is easier to get organized and concentrated when everything around sparkles and shines.

The next reason is about baby steps. You have two strategies: forget about your home duties and find yourself in the situation when it looks like Pompey after the eruption. (Looks similar to your procrastination and last-minute deadlines, right?). Or you can devote about 20 minutes daily, and it will keep your house clean, so you can try The KonMari Method. Little things lead you to success.

Cherry on the Top: Tips for Advanced


Now, when you’ve almost mastered the art of self-organization, we want to offer you try something new. The next tips will make your college life brighter and help you to achieve your goals!

Spend Wisely

It is, of course, tempting to blow the entire paycheck on partying and shopping. But resist the urge to do so. Keeping track of your expenses is something that helps you get your life together as a student.

Note how much you are spending on your own life and how much you need to save for your financial goals. Budgeting may feel a little tough, but once you get the hang of it, you're sure to enjoy this practical skill as a grad or young adult. Your first step is to get rid of impulsive purchases. For example, you can:

  • make a shopping list each time when you’re going to the grocery shop;
  • create an untouchable savings account;
  • set your limit for purchasing things that are not really necessary.

Consider that spending too much money on buying stuff on Amazon or at Whole Foods doesn't only affect your financial position, it also requires a lot of energy. So, stop wasting hours on stuff that doesn't add to your happiness in the long run. Invest your time more wisely.

Mobile banking is a good way to keep track of your accounts. Install some applications like Mint, Left to Spend, Money Wallet, Expensify, etc. that have a friendly interface and easy navigation. It will take you about 15 minutes per day to take control of your finances. It would also be a good idea to read some blogs about financial management to learn about saving money, investing, and so on.

Build a Great Social Life

Remember that when studying at high school and college, you lay the foundation for your successful future. Educational institutions are intended to fill you with knowledge, skills, experience, and what is no less important, networking. That’s why Harvard is so popular, it has an incredible community that is always in touch and helps its members.

Think about being social, or, at least, having social skills. There are people who were born with these talents, but most of us need to work on improving them.

One great way of socializing is to join the organizing team of a club or community. It can be a debate club, a book club, anything that you like — you can surely find some announcements about them on your campus. Find like-minded people and expand your circle of acquaintances. The next way is to visit different social events and practice your small talk skills. And don't forget about the Internet and social media, especially in pandemics times. If you’re following some people who are of interest to you, feel free to send them your message. You never know where you find the best friend or the career opportunity. For example, a lot of smart people are joining a new social network right now, which is called Clubhouse. It is a platform where you can listen to speakers on different topics (and become a speaker as well) without showing your face and texting.

Believe in Yourself and Don’t Hesitate to Ask For Help

Last but not least, never stop believing in yourself. It's okay to fail sometimes. Don't be afraid to try again. Don't let your anxiety pull strings. Give yourself credit for small things that you do for yourself and others. List down all the goals you have achieved. Create checklists on the sticky notes and put them somewhere visible to everyone. Pat yourself on the back and say "well-done." Take some time to indulge in self-appreciation. This is important!

Unfortunately, along with enjoying incredible opportunities, modern students are experiencing stress and pressure. The college environment is highly competitive, and you really need to take some effort to remember that you’re not a superhero.

So, if you feel that you need some kind of help, e.g. the psychotherapist session, or professional writing assistance, don’t wait too long to request it.

Wrapping things up, you should understand that there are a lot of strategies and tools to get your college life more organized. To be honest, it is impossible to implement 100% of them in the very first month. Just define your priorities and start moving towards your goals!

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I studied sociology and marketing at Europa-Universität Viadrina (Germany) and Universidade da Beira Interior (Portugal). When I was a sophomore, back in 2018, I decided to put what I've learned into practice, so I got my first job in digital marketing. I currently work in the content marketing department at Studybay, building strong, effective, and respectful communication between the platform and our clients.

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