The importance of time management is drilled into us from a young age…but do we use it? As much as I like to think I’m Superwoman, I know that I waste a lot of time throughout my day – time that I really need to have a healthy and happy lifestyle. In an effort to live more stress free, I have identified the three main ways that I waste time in my days, and ways that I can redirect my time management.

My first, and most notorious way of wasting my time is “multitasking”. I use quotes, because when I multitask, it’s really just my switching between two tasks periodically, and doing a mediocre job on both of them. Or I do things like combine my “me” time with homework, so that my time to relax is less enjoyable, and my homework is given minimal effort. Both of these scenarios are the opposite of productive and fulfilling. Thus, my first effort to live a more productive and healthy lifestyle has been to stop trying to multitask.

I choose one activity that I need to complete, or want to do, and I do that. I block out a certain amount of time, and put myself in an environment that is appropriate for whatever it is I’m doing, and I don’t worry about anything else in that time frame. This doesn’t have to just be schoolwork, it can also be blocking out time for the gym, or to spend with friends. It’s important to get structure in our days, so that we know what we actually have time for and don’t end up having to cut out anything important.

Another way I find myself wasting time is in excessive socializing. Friends and social lives are incredibly important to wellness, and we all need time with our friends and family, but in moderation. I often find myself distracted from other responsibilities and staying out way too late because I don’t want to miss out on whatever it is my friends are doing, even if it’s just sitting in someone’s room or on our phones. This aspect of my life has been the most difficult to modify, but definitely the most rewarding. Instead of hanging out with my friends for hours and hours every day with no set plans, I have started to organize my my time with them. We go out to dinner, or watch a movie, or do some kind of craft. We designate a time that we will get together and carry out our plans; as a result we can all plan to accomplish our other responsibilities around that time, and no one feels like they are missing out by not being together constantly.

The last major way I find that I waste my time is with sleep management. I stay up way too late, or wake up way too early to cram more into my day. All day I’m groggy and disengaged in my surroundings. I often have to put things off so that I can take a break to nap, and then I’m up late again because I took time out of my day. Cutting sleep turns into an endless cycle of always feeling drained. When I’m tired, every aspect of my life starts to suffer, and I feel “super down.” Recently I decided to really try to get my sleep habits in check. I plan all of my responsibilities throughout the day so that I can be home and in bed by my designated bed time.

That allows me to get eight hours of sleep. It can feel silly to designate a bedtime as a college student, but it is so worth it! I have my alarm for my morning wakeup across the room from me, so I have to physically get out of bed to turn it off.  I then make my bed so that I am not tempted to  mess it up throughout the day by napping. Focusing on quality sleep has greatly improved my life. I’m much more productive throughout the day, and I don’t feel so low on energy anymore.

Improving time management really does improve my life. I have been more productive, have more energy than ever before, and overall I feel happier. We need to take care of our bodies and minds to have healthy lifestyles and relationships. Sometimes being successful doesn’t mean you are excelling at every single thing you do, but that you are doing the best you can. Scheduling your time, and mapping out your life really can lead to success. I know for me it’s been a great tool for overall health and wellness.

– Julie