Now you Know: Mastering Time

Mastering Time

In college, you get a taste of “adulting” with balancing school, social life, and sleep. With so many new things to manage you may feel stressed out and often out of time.

While the impossible trifecta may seem overwhelming, this trifecta is indeed accomplishable (trust me, I would know) but takes a lot of discipline. Want to master them all? Follow our guidelines to mastering time.

Say “no!”
Many people find it hard to say “No” because they want to help and are trying to be nice and to be liked. For others, it is a fear of conflict, rejection or missed opportunities. Remember that these barriers to saying “No” are all self-created. Instead think of some pre-prepared phrases to let other people down more gently. Practice saying phrases such as:
• “I am sorry but I can’t commit to this as I have other priorities at the moment.”
• “Now is not a good time as I’m in the middle of something. Why don’t you ask me again at….?”
• “I’d love to do this, but …”

Put in time to sleep
Sleep is something you can afford – because a break means more productivity. For a quick boost of alertness, experts say a 10-to-20-minute power nap is adequate for getting back to work in a pinch. For cognitive memory processing, a 60-minute nap helps with remembering facts, places and faces. The downside: some grogginess upon waking. A 90-minute nap will likely involve a full cycle of sleep, which aids creativity and emotional and procedural memory, such as learning how to ride a bike. You won’t be groggy.
Take a caffeine nap: for those of you who like to drink coffee – down a cup of coffee (avoid sugar) and sleep for 15 minutes. It takes about 15 minutes for the effects of caffeine to work.
There’s an app: If you have a smart phone, look up “sleep cycle” apps. These apps allow you to choose what time you want to wake up but will wake you within 15-30 minutes around that timeframe depending on what part of the sleep cycle you are in (light sleep, deep sleep, REM, etc.). The app determines what sleep cycle you are in depending on your movement.

To-do-lists give you perspective
Plan out your “list” retroactively – starting with the month, then the week, then day by day. In regards to school, think about planning out your semester using your syllabi. Jot down class times, assignment deadlines, presentations and exam times would be planning monthly. You should incorporate other things like work times, extracurricular times (i.e. gym time, time to cook, etc.), study times and “break times” for a weekly schedule. Daily schedules are then lists of tasks that are doable to complete in that day. For instance if you have a presentation due at the end of the week, on one day you can work on the slides, then another day would be doing a script.

Find your “productive time”
Everyone’s productive time is different. Only YOU know when you work best. Some work better in the mornings, others late at night. Once you’ve figured out when your most “productive” time is, you can schedule things to do during that time.

Treat time like money
Like money your time is limited. So budgeting ensures that you don’t go into the red (i.e. you’re sleep deprived, nothing is done in full quality, or worse – both). If you are only going to allot 2 hours’ worth of time to do a section of one assignment, you can only do 2 hours’ worth. DO NOT exceed the 2 hours and DO NOT waste those two hours texting, or going on social media. The same applies for time you set aside relaxing. If you’re going to set an hour of time to do whatever, don’t let your work spill into break time, and do not replace your break time to do work.

Block the disruptions
Today, most of our assignments are done on computers and require the use of an internet connection which makes it easier to be distracted. Want to stop the distractions? There’s an app for that! Self-Control ( for mac and Freedom ( for PC blocks certain sites for the time period you set it for. No computer reboots or web browser refreshers will get it to budge. You can selectively decide which sites are OK, or not OK, to visit during your focus period (so don’t worry). For phone distractions, you can put your phone on “do not disturb” for iPhones and androids. For other mobile phones, simply putting it on silent or turning it off works just as well. It’s ideal to keep your phone in another room or out of sight so you’re not tempted to check.

Follow these guidelines and you’ll be mastering time and the trifecta before you even realize it!