JoelBRandall8 Randall

Joel B. Randall graduated from Brigham Young University–Idaho in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in communication (an emphasis in news/journalism) and an English minor. As a former tutor with his university’s writing center, Joel has a deep appreciation for English grammar and aspires to become a magazine editor.

Joel has published two guidebooks on Amazon, including a guide to believable fiction and a guide to college time management. Besides professional writing, Joel enjoys creative writing and is currently writing a fantasy book and a mystery book in his free time. Joel is passionate about the power that words can demonstrate when carefully crafted together, whether that be in a novel, short story, poem, or research paper.

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For this undertaking that doubled as his senior project, the author interviewed eight college success gurus across the United States and compiled their answers into easy-to-apply tips to schedule your college life. Lack of time-management skills in college is a problem, but there are 130 solutions.
Study, Sleep, Repeat: 130 Tips to Schedule Your College Life
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Study, Sleep, Repeat: 130 Tips to Schedule Your College Life by Joel B. Randall


Introduction: The Time You Do Not Have

“In that transition from high school to college, you can go from being in a very structured environment to suddenly an environment where if there’s structure, it’s because you provide it.”

—Katie Dufault

The Broccoli Cheddar Soup Allegory

A careless jolt of the forearm was all it took for my pants to be covered in broccoli cheddar soup.

I’ll back up. I was working on homework at 11:30 p.m. (as a college student does), listening to motivating tunes (as a college student does), eating a bowl of microwavable broccoli cheddar soup I got for a dollar (yes, college student). But I moved my arm too quickly to the keyboard, and the plastic cup of soupy potato flakes and slimy dairy sauce slopped all over the desk and into the carpet. And onto my pants.

The mess stunned me for a few seconds as I scrambled to decide what to do. This wasn’t a simple clean-up, after all. I had to:

  • Grab cleaning supplies.
  • Clean my pants.
  • Clean the desk.
  • Clean the chair.
  • Clean the carpet.

So, what did I do? I started by pausing my music (I needed to concentrate, and I didn’t want my YouTube playlist to skip a good song, either). Next, I darted up for a roll of paper towels from my shelf. Following their retrieval, I cleared the desk to the best of my ability to stop the goop from dripping to the floor. After that, I decided to save my Word document (I’m beyond paranoid about saving my homework). Then, I wiped the carpet to avoid permanent stains of processed cheese. I followed this by wiping my pants and flushing the stains profusely with my water bottle. Finally, though not as important, I briefly cleaned the chair.

You probably would have handled this order differently. In fact, I’m counting on it. You may have started cleaning your pants if they were priceless. Or, you would have started with the carpet because your last dorm clean check fined you for a dirty floor. Maybe you would have even had the care to avoid knocking over the soup in the first place.

The order I followed didn’t make sense in the long run, but it did make sense for me in the moment. It subconsciously brought out what I really cared about—music, homework, and lack of damage to apartment property. Though I cared about my pants, they were the last thing on my mind in the crisis.

What Does Soup Have to Do with College Time Management?

Glad you asked. With a careless or unknowledgeable take on your undergraduate experience, a busy college life could gunk all over the desk of your time, as did the gloopy soup over mine. Even the most careful and proactive student will have to deal with a broccoli-cheddar mess every 11:30 in a while. The fact that the soup tips over is inevitable; despite your care or effort, it will happen sooner or later. However, what order you deal with it when it does spill is up to you and makes all the difference.

If you haven’t had a busy week of readings and projects yet in your college experience, you will. The demands of never-ending textbook chapters, grade-plummeting exams, and quasi-permanent stress will overcome you as warm soup overcame my pants that fateful night. How are you going to respond? Will you start by taking care of the most pressing assignment? Or will you ignore the larger issues to pursue free time? Or will you throw in the paper towel and succumb to the mercy of microwavable potato clumps?

As my allegory shows, there is no perfect answer. With the many variations of who a college student is, everyone is going to manage his or her time differently. What matters, though, is how you take initiative of your college experience and proactively try to clean up the mess of backbreaking demands and scatterbrained schedules in an order you won’t regret later.

Study, Sleep, Repeat

Because that’s what we do. We stay up all day to study and go to bed all night to sleep, never taking so much as a mid-week movie marathon or self-care day. I know I’m overgeneralizing; of course you have time for other activities like eating and watching Netflix. That’s great—but the robotic moments of study, sleep, repeat happen eventually, especially when we fail to prepare for the week effectively or treat college as we did high school.

In a world of skipped lunch breaks and revenge bedtime procrastination, college students have days and even weeks of missing time. How wouldn’t we? Every moment from the second we turn our alarm off to the second we turn it back on is filled with mastering fifty-point assignments or preparing for tests whose questions seem to come from the wrong course’s study guide.

I know it feels like you’re missing all of your time and a part of yourself by doing everything the university requires of you. Even the bare minimum can be intimidating and leave you with only fifteen minutes to yourself. This is a problem. But more importantly, there is a solution; 130 of them, in fact.

About This Book

For my senior project, I interviewed eight college success experts (Appendix C) across the United States about their tips on time management. Specifically, I asked sixteen questions (Appendix A) within five troublesome categories: college routine, classes, homework, jobs, and leisure time. These subjects are on the wanted posters of college time management because of how masterfully they terminate our available minutes if not brought to justice immediately.

I gathered the answers from my interviewees and combined their suggestions into 130 tips on how to schedule your college life (Appendix B). These tips are not just about how to obtain more time (if you want to do that, you might as well buy a few clocks off Amazon). Rather, the tips in the following chapters are about how to make the most of your time.

If you learn this greater purpose first, you’ll see more time in your planner does accompany it, but time management’s chief mission is first to turn your twenty-four hours into something to show for them, not to turn twenty-four hours into twenty-five. You may find a way to save seven minutes every Thursday, but if you don’t make the most of your leisure time, those spare minutes will be as useless as a broken watch.

Peruse this book as you please, skipping to the chapters whose topics you struggle with the most. When you find a tip that resonates with you, set a goal of implementing it and a plan of how to implement it. As a disclaimer, not every tip will work for you, and that’s fine; but if you recognize your college career soaring by without much to show for it, then it may be worth it to add a few new armaments to your time arsenal. I guarantee at least one tip out of the 130 will do wonders for you, for learning these tips myself this last semester of college has broadened my horizon of what college students truly are capable of.

The Time You Do Not Have

With a shortsighted perspective and an inattentive account of your priorities, you will grieve for the time you do not have. Without your goals set and the right strategies in place, you can’t do the college thing right, for you’ll have no time to make a personal difference.

We could all use a lesson or two in time management. My knowledge on the subject before I started this senior project was nothing compared to what this book now presents, and it was unequivocally worth my time to talk to professors and document their wisdom. But don’t let these insights go to waste. Time management is more than a passive recollection of how to be more productive; it is the dynamic action you take to implement time-saving or time-valuing activities, as well as learning to change for the better along the way.

Time management is time awareness—and being aware of how you can manage your time is the first step to becoming a time guru. Sure, there is time you do not have, but you can fix that. After a recall of where your time goes, and with a desire to be flexible and set new goals, you can make it.

Please; make the most of your college career. I wish I could write my freshman self a twenty-page paper on time management, complete with detailed subheadings and MLA in-text citations, for I was the worst at scheduling my college life. But you don’t have to stay there. Learn a tip here, implement a tip there, and change your strategy the second it becomes counterproductive. With a topic as challenging as time management, you won’t get it perfect in one go, but that’s the great thing about college: You have the low-risk freedom to try new tactics and find the ones that stick.

I know it’s stressful and agonizing sometimes, but you’ll get it. As you become a pro at time management, you can make the weight of these four years worth the struggle. As a former freshman who slept through morning alarms and procrastinated textbook reading until 1 a.m., I can promise you will get the hang of this if you consciously work at it. And once you do, it will make your degree that much more worth it. In the coming months and years, you might as well be a wizard, for time will bend at your command. Just you wait!


Section 1: College Routine

“It’s a grind; they call it the daily grind on purpose, right? But remember the purpose.”

—Paulette Kirkham


1: Starting the Day

Q. “How could students start their day to be the most productive?”

Just as breakfast is the most important meal of the day, when you wake up is the most important part of the day. Starting it well can jump-start you into a riveting college life and a successful time at your university. Starting your day poorly, however, can hold you down like maple syrup holds down a stack of flapjacks.

The second your eyelids squint open and your arm limply hits the snooze, it’s off to the races. Tell yourself, “I have a fantastic day planned today,” then go out and prove yourself right. Start the day correctly, and you won’t even need Lucky Charms to fulfill your aspirations.

1. Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

“We find that many—especially new—students struggle with effective management of their time,” said Jennifer Cannady, “and this is partly due to very inconsistent sleep and wake times.” Going to bed at midnight is not a problem, and neither is waking up at 8 a.m. What is a problem, though, is going to bed at midnight on Monday, 10 p.m. on Tuesday, 3 a.m. Thursday morning, and so on until your body clock scratches its head and demands an explanation.

An inconsistent sleep schedule will cause sleeplessness; your mind doesn’t remember when to go to bed, so you’re left staring at the ceiling as your exhaustion keeps you up. To counter on-and-off insomnia, Cannady proposed students “identify some regular routines that are best suited to their individual needs and try to maintain them.” So, go to bed at the same time, and wake up at the same time. Simple enough.

“Start the day the same way,” advised Dr. Chris Lakes. “If you sleep until eleven o’clock one day and get up at seven o’clock another day, and some days you do this or that, that creates inconsistencies.” These inconsistencies promote sleeplessness and ultimately weak class participation and information retention. If you can’t sleep at night or are too tired to hold your head up through a lecture during the day, you can hit the snooze button on that perfect GPA.

Your schedule may differ some days, like weekends, but there should still be order. Dr. Lakes said, “Maybe you can get up a little bit later if you have class at ten. But getting into a routine is really important.” 6 a.m., 8 a.m., 3 p.m.—it all differs from student to student. The important thing is that you aim for consistency so on target that your body starts to wake up before the alarm.

2. Realize What Routine Gives You the Most Energy

Early birds claim their way is superior. Night owls claim their way is superior. But the truth is that both ways of using the day are just as effective, as long as our strategy gives us more energy than the other. “I feel like everyone has their thing,” observed Kaitlan Farrior. “Some people work better at night; some people work better in the daytime. . . . My advice is to figure out what works for you and do that. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to being more productive at this time or not.”

Katie Dufault recommended that students map out which parts of the day give them the most energy: “My sweet spot of energy for productivity, studying, writing, all of those things, is like 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. I can get more done in that time than I can at any other point, normally.” Since Dufault is not a morning person, she said, “That means slowly starting my day and doing some things that aren’t going to have as much cognitive load. Because if I do something really complex first thing, it may not be my best work.” This schedule of staying up late helps Dufault stay motivated and productive, so it is an effective strategy for her.

This will not work for everyone, though. Dr. Eric James Stephens suggested starting the day at a time that will put yourself in a good mood and make you the most productive. He said, “That’s going to be different for everybody. If you need to get up at 5 a.m., . . . go for it. But . . . if you know you’re most productive in your evening hours, and you know that sleep is the most important thing, then starting your day at maybe 10 a.m. might be the best thing for you.”

Take advantage of your mind’s drive to get things done, and rearrange your schedule as needed. For instance, if you need to avoid scheduling classes before noon so that you can make the most of evening hours, make that change. There is no wrong way to set a schedule unless you’re inadvertently snuffing out the energy from your most productive times.

3. Begin the Day by Reviewing Your Planner

You can’t start the day effectively if you don’t know why you’re getting up in the first place. A quick review of your schedule as you eat breakfast or brush your teeth can center you in the day’s purpose and show you what’s in store.

Jennifer Cannady suggested using a planner, whether that be a digital or paper planner. She said, “Beginning the day with a review of the landscape of work, classes, etc., is helpful to plan out the specific blocks for working on class assignments and studying material.” If you have a mammoth project you forgot about, you know you have the whole day to complete it. If you realize you have an exam later, you know from the start of the day to be practicing information recall in your mind. If you notice that you have a group meeting at noon, you can prepare yourself to push lunch off an hour.

You may even choose to use various pen colors to represent different categories of tasks (like homework, classes, personal, etc.). Whatever helps you look forward to the day and say, “Let’s go do some stuff” is worth it in the end. Creating and reviewing a planner is a powerful way to start off the day, and avoiding last-minute surprises will relieve any stress that may come your direction as well.

4. Plan More Than the Myopic

Myopia, or nearsightedness, is when we lack foresight. In other words, we can see only what is directly before us and are oblivious to the blurry figures just beyond our line of sight. “When we’re myopic,” said Paulette Kirkham, “we have our eyes down to the ground.” While looking to the future presents a challenge for mortals in general, the difficulty is magnified in college students, many of whom just barely figured out what major they want to study.

Planning for an unknown destination seems an impossible task to the undermotivated, but starting the day off with a broader perspective helps tie the loose ends of your schedule. Although you may hate going to that 6 a.m. class, seeing more than the short-term discomfort will reveal to you the degree you’ll earn or the job you’ll get by enduring.

Kirkham looks ahead to decide what short-term goals to set: “One of the things I do is [think] in one hundred years, when I look back—and I do believe I will look back—what do I want to see on this day? And then, I act accordingly. So, it’s keeping that big picture, that meta view, instead of the myopic stare at the ground.”

. . .


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