Written by Shambhu Rajeev
If you are a full-time college student like myself, you are probably already familiar with the expression “there are not enough hours in the day.” I confess that up until recently, I also wholeheartedly accepted this as a fact of life. I mean, how could I possibly find enough time to study, work, socialize, exercise, commute, eat and relax all in one day and repeat this every day for four years, only to become even busier once I start working full-time? Looking back at my past habits, if I took most of the time I wasted worrying about unfinished tasks and instead spent it actually working on them, I probably could have graduated a year earlier. Only kidding, but I know I am not the only one out there who struggles with proper time management. It’s an anxiety that naturally comes with the actuarial path, whether knowingly or unknowingly. To help others endure these trials in life, I want to share some tips and advice I got when I was stuck in a funk over life and study balance.
One thing that has made the biggest difference in my life is downloading a calendar application onto my phone. I use Google Calendar to organize my everyday activities and manage my leftover time. I originally picked up the idea from a good friend and fellow actuarial student who often credits passing for actuarial exams on top of his regular college courses to his calendar and its annoying non-stop notifications. Keeping a calendar is incredibly productive for me, Seeing my class schedule lined up visually allows me to efficiently distribute my everyday tasks. Even simple tasks like eating lunch and dinner can sometimes be forgotten in our busy lives. Having a calendar, where empty time slots in the day stick out like a sore thumb, makes scheduling those everyday tasks easier on us.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that downloading a calendar and decking out every day with several thousand things to do will transform you into a hyper-productive superhuman. That, of course, takes dedication and practice. Plus, you don’t want to fill up every hour of the day with some sort of activity. From my experience, it’s sometimes difficult to start and end a task exactly as planned on my calendar. For example, if I allotted myself one hour to finish an assignment and it ends up taking almost two hours to finish, it’s in my best interest to have free time in my schedule somewhere so that moving around a few tasks won’t ruin the rest of the day.
How do you adopt the best mindset to manage your time? Stop procrastinating. We all procrastinate. It’s natural and easy to do, but the wasted hours add up quickly and the regret sets in just as fast. Instead, prioritize activities. As someone who loves socializing and spending entire weekends with friends, I found it incredibly difficult – yet absolutely necessary – to prioritize my work over my pleasure for weeks on end. Our field of study is one that tests knowledge on a detailed scale, and in order to master the material, sometimes we need to spend time that we might spend out at a party in a quiet study room. Prioritizing, however, should never compromise physical and mental health. For me, spending a few hours a week to care for myself, from working out to reading interesting business and science articles, is a necessity to perform at my peak.
Nothing of importance in life comes easily and keeping that in mind can be difficult at times. When I need that extra push getting through a day, I often remind myself of a little quote I’ve heard: “Your future self is watching you right now through your memories.”