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8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

I’m a college student. Maybe you’re a college student, too. Life is crazy busy. Like, extremely busy. Maybe you’re in the same boat as me. You are involved in classes, yes, but then there’s everything else: your job(s), internship, extra-curricular clubs, and various groups. Maybe you’re a member of a sorority or fraternity, as well. You and me, we’re involved in a lot—let’s just keep it at that.

Somehow, some way, we are expected to have our lives under control. Homework is due. Exams are practically every other day, not to mention the many group projects, club meetings, and study sessions.

When do we have time to get it all done, let alone breathe?

There are only twenty four hours in a day, which sometimes, feels like not enough. If you’re anything like me, you’ve tried to organize your life, you really have. You began this school year with a positive outlook on the semester, telling yourself that you’d sleep eight hours a night, get straight A’s, and have enough time for both your social life AND studying. But somehow, in the span of just a few weeks, that ideal image has begun to quickly fade out of sight. Now, reality has set in.

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If you’re on the verge of losing all the sanity you have left… if you’re on the crossroads between Crazy Town and Panic Road, you’ve come to the right place.

Here are 8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy.

1. Check lists are your new BFF.

Check lists are your life preservers. Buy a notebook specifically for this purpose—it’s that important. Check lists have helped me in huge ways, and have literally saved my sanity multiple times.  First, write down everything you have to do that week. Everything, even the group meetings and the homework assignments… even the mall trip you hope to squeeze into your schedule somewhere. Then, break it up into days. Daily checklists break down the overwhelming To-Do lists into smaller, more manageable pieces. Write reasonable goals for yourself every morning, goals that will actually be completed by the end of the day.

Writing even the most mundane tasks down, like taking a shower, gives you a motivational boost of energy when you are able to check it off. There’s something empowering and encouraging about checking off an item on your To-Do list. It makes you feel productive, because you are! You’re getting things done in a more organized, less crazy way.

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2. Become Time-Oriented

Time is precious. There are only so many hours in a day to get everything done, so wasting it is a huge mistake. Becoming Time-Oriented is very easy to adapt, but it takes will power. Set time goals for yourself. Have to study for an exam? Give yourself one hour. Then take a break and do something else, something on your check list. Start writing a paper outline or respond back to a group project email.

Breaking up your time into smaller chunks helps create a more relaxed brain space. Focusing on one thing for too long is not productive. By giving your brain a break from one task, you are able to be more productive and complete more tasks faster.

However, becoming time-oriented does not mean that you become legalistic about scheduling. Allow for a little flexibility, in case something comes up or you accidentally sleep in a little too late. Be persistent in becoming time-oriented, but keep an open mind. If you under schedule yourself for a specific task, you will feel stressed, so make sure to keep your time limits reasonable.

3. The 10 Minute Cycle

This is one of my secret tricks. Piggybacking off of #2, the 10 Minute Cycle helps release the overwhelming stress you may feel between tasks. Walking to class? Put your phone away and listen to a few songs, instead. Taking a break from exam studying? Stand up and do 50 jumping jacks or 50 sit-ups (or both!). Group meeting done early? Check your email or call a friend. The 10 Minute Cycle allows you to do something different every day. Whether it’s checking Facebook, walking around campus, or listening to some pump up music, give your mind a re-boost of energy between tasks or meetings. The trick is: Keep your activity at 10 minutes or less. It’s just enough time to jumpstart your focus, but short enough to keep you on track.

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4. Write. It. Down.

Let’s face it. No matter how good you think your memory is, sometimes it fails you. You thought you’d remember your dad’s birthday, but you forgot. You thought you’d remember that the exam is next Tuesday, but you didn’t realize it until Monday night. Things happen. Write it down.

Buy a planner or put it in your phone. However you’d like to make record of it, do it. Stick to it. Always check it. Update it. By writing it down and keeping up with your plans, you won’t get everything confused. Write down the times next to your meeting dates. Write down the number of the classroom your sorority is having their weekly meeting. Whatever it is, write it down. Thinking you’re going crazy and actually going crazy aren’t that different. When you write your thoughts down, it’s a valid and visual reminder of what you have to do. Chances are you won’t go crazy when you don’t have to worry about forgetting something!

5. Change your scenery.

If you are stuck in your dorm or the library studying for yet another exam or meeting for another group project, I feel bad for you. Sometimes, the scenery is what makes us feel overwhelmed. Change it up! Head to Starbucks or a little café. Go into the student lounge or to a random window seat in an academic building. Changing up the scenery will change your productivity level, too, which will, in turn, keep you sane and focused. Your dorm and the library are great, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes, a little change is good for you!

6. Clean your space.

Mental stress is really the underlying factor beneath the hectic schedule. The mind is running a thousand miles per hour and you don’t know how to make it slow down. Clean your space. Organize your desk, make your bed, put away your laundry. By making your personal space clean and organized, you’ll free your mind, as well. Plus, when you go to study or have friends over, you’ll be able to focus on that instead of being distracted by everything around you. A clean space is a happy head space.

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7. Quotes on quotes on quotes.

As random as this is, quotes are lifesavers. When you have a bad day or are simply on the verge of a break down, quotes taped to the wall, written in notebooks, stuck to the mirror, hanging from the ceiling—wherever they are, they’re helpful. Write down your top 10 favorite quotes and post them everywhere. Read them whenever you can. Live by them. They’re there to save you from Crazy Town.

8. Relax.

Sometimes, we’re just so busy that we forget to relax. I feel like I’m always running around, going to the next meeting or studying for the next exam, that I forget to enjoy the day or give myself a break. At the end of every day, set aside time to simply relax. Watch an episode of The Walking Dead or Netflix an old episode of Breaking Bad. Read a magazine or scroll through Pinterest. Whatever is the best way you will feel relaxed, do it. You deserve it. It’s been a long day. Treat yourself to a little relaxation, because not losing your sanity is worthy of celebration.

Those are 8 ways to help you stay busy without going crazy. I hope they are helpful to you! Have any other tips you’d like to share, comments, or suggestions? I’d love to hear them! Comment below or Tweet me!

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8 Ways to Stay Involved in College Life but Not Go Completely Crazy

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

Better Alternatives to New Year’s Resolutions to Reduce Your Stress

The end of the year is the time when everyone tries to give you advice on how to live healthier, look better, and earn more money.

It’s understandable if you find yourself lost among all the tips and opinions. Sometimes you no longer know what you truly want to achieve next year – and what’s just imposed by society.

To help you out, we’ve made this article about the things you should remove from your new year’s resolution list – instead of adding to it – to make your daily life more harmonious and peaceful.

So just make sure you cross these off your New Year’s to-do list – your body, mind and soul will be thankful.

1. Stop Buying Meaningless Gifts

We all know the sense of obligation – when we have to buy a gift for an event or celebration that’s already tomorrow, but we still have no idea of what to give.

Take these tips close to heart for all upcoming holidays, including birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc.:

Stop focusing on the material objects

Instead of focusing on what material object to give, think about the emotion you want to evoke[1] in the gift recipient, and then pick a symbolic gift that can support or represent that emotion. For example, you can gift coziness by presenting a “comfort set” with warm socks, tea, candles, etc. Or give motivation by presenting a beautiful planner or notebook.

Plan gifts in advance

We know this is easier said than done. But if you try to plan which gifts you’ll need in the upcoming months (try making a list three or four times a year), ideas will more likely come to mind and you’ll avoid that last-minute shopping. Not to mention, you’ll be able to keep an eye on sales to get the best prices.

Suggest a better way

If you’re tired of exchanging gifts for birthdays and holidays, initiate a different approach. For example, draw names among family members and agree that each one only buys a present to that one person they got. Alternatively, you can agree not to share gifts among adults, and only give presents to kids of the family. Or, ask friends to donate to charity instead of buying a gift for you.

Go for common experiences instead of exchanging gifts

You can agree (with your partner or the extended family) to go on a common trip, dinner or another activity, instead of spending money on gifts.

Sometimes you’ll have to be the one who initiates breaking the rules that have been accepted in the family for years. But if you suspect that you’re not the only one in the group who’s tired of gift-hunting, you’ll surely find support for your suggestions.

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2. Don’t Exaggerate with Diets and Fitness Resolutions

It’s no secret that TV shows, article headlines, and ads (not to mention our healthy diet-obsessed friends) make us feel like we need to look better, slimmer and younger than we actually are. But going on yet another diet or starting a fitness plan with the wrong motivation rarely leads to great results.

If you are like many people, you have probably signed up for an annual gym membership at least once in your life – only to drop it one month later.

How do you balance a good resolution for a healthier life without pushing yourself into commitments that won’t last?

Here’s what you can do:

Set a healthier pattern

For example, do meat-free Mondays or reduce meat consumption to three days per week (less saturated fat for you and better for the environment). Or choose to eat only healthy food at least three days a week or only on weekdays (e.g. make sure your meals contain vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy products, and protein). This way you’ll already have a healthier diet while still being able to treat yourself with a snack on weekends or parties.

Get a fitness watch

Fitness watches like Fitbit or MiBand are tiny accessories that will count your steps, calories burnt and will serve as an excellent motivator to move – or to take the stairs instead of the elevator.

Find a physical activity that you enjoy

Even if you are not that fond of doing sports, you can definitely find an activity that you’d do with pleasure. Think about what you’d like – from taking up Nordic walking to pilates or even exercising at home.

Try intermittent fasting

This is an alternating cycles of fasting and eating. For example, stop eating at 8 pm and restart not sooner than 12 hours later. This approach has been proven to have numerous health benefits, in addition to weight loss.

Skip cabs or driving to work and opt for cycling or walking instead

You’ll burn calories, breathe some fresh air, and save money – win-win!

3. Put a Cap on Your Daily To-Do List

In today’s busy world, planning your day in a stress-free way is actually an art in itself. It’s natural to want to be a loving parent, a diligent employee, an active member of the local community and probably several other individual roles.

But playing all these roles requires energy and meticulous planning. How not to lose yourself amidst all the appointments and responsibilities? And – most importantly – how to still find time for relaxing and recharging yourself?

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These daily planning tips will help you have more stress-free days:

Leave bigger intervals between meetings

If you schedule too many appointments or chores in a day, you’ll probably end up late at some point, and as a result – more stressed. There are many different reasons why people are late, but poor planning is a major factor too.

Plan time to relax

As weird as it may sound, you should try and schedule your resting time. For example, if you only have one free evening this week, and a friend tries to squeeze in a meeting, feel free to say no. Don’t feel obliged to specify the reason for your refusal, just say that you are busy.

Try to be a little pessimistic

We’re often packed with plans or running late for errands because we tend to be overly optimistic – about the traffic, the time it takes to do things, etc. Instead, try an opposite tactic — assume you’ll hit traffic or the meeting will take longer.

Try waking up earlier

Sometimes even waking up 30 minutes earlier can give you the much-needed head start for several errands of the day. But remember to get enough sleep every night, even if it means going to bed earlier.

Plan your day the day before

Chances are your day will be much better organized if you pack a lunch and lay out an outfit before going to bed.

Designate a time for checking emails and social messages

If you start checking your messages between appointments, you risk getting lost in a sea of messages that need replies. Designate a time for this activity or do it in case you arrived early to a meeting.

4. Let Go of Unhealthy and Time-Consuming Habits

If there’s one thing we should get rid of in the new year, it’s the habits that steal our time, provide instant gratification but don’t offer any value in the long term. Or even worse, leave a negative impact on our health.

Here are some common (and pointless) habits along with tips on how to get rid of them:

Binge-watching TV series

Even if most online television platforms offer you lists of “Best TV Shows to Binge Watch”, being addicted to series is a major time-waster.

You can manage this addiction in several ways, for example, watch one episode per day (or a few per week) as a reward, only after you’ve finished an assignment or done a house chore. Or try replacing this habit with exercise or reading a book – this will be hard at first but should stick after a few weeks. You can also try to track how much time you spend on TV or movies – seeing how much of your life you are wasting might urge you to do something about it.

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Running on coffee

Being a coffee addict is kind of a stylish addiction nowadays, but it’s not that innocent as it may initially seem. Besides addiction being a problem in itself, drinking too much coffee (more than 500-600 mg of caffeine a day) may lead to nervousness, insomnia, an upset stomach, a fast heartbeat, and even muscle tremors.[2]

As a solution, try switching to tea or edible coffee – a more sustainable, healthy, and productivity-enhancing alternative. For example, Coffee Pixels are solid coffee bars that generate a more even energy kick throughout the day without the coffee-induced abstinence and dehydration.

Procrastination

Fighting procrastination requires some serious willpower. If it is a problem in your daily life or work, try ”eating the frog” in the morning – get over your biggest or hardest tasks first, then tackle everything else.

Alternatively, use time tracking software to monitor exactly how much time you waste on unproductive actions, websites or apps. Once you know exactly how much time you’re spending unproductively, try to limit your time on social media, for example to just 20 minutes per day.

If nothing else works, try bribing yourself — promise yourself to do something fun or pleasant when you finish your assignment.

Whichever habit you want to give up, consider using some habits building tools to make a contract with yourself and reward yourself for milestones achieved.

5. Stop over-consuming

We live in the age of consumerism – huge manufacturers with their promise of a comfortable life on the one hand, and growing environmental threats – that are the direct result of our modern lifestyle – on the other hand. There’s only one solution – try to consume less whenever and wherever you can.

Before making additional purchases, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I really need it? Did I need it yesterday?
  • Can’t I buy it used or borrow it from friends?
  • Can I rent it?
  • Can I make it myself?
  • Am I buying the most sustainable version of this product?

For example, check if the brand you chose is conscious about the environment, for example, are the products they manufacture energy efficient? Do they try to use less packaging?

Also, if you often find yourself buying too many groceries, promise to buy only the amount that fits in one shopping bag (that you bring along). If you often forget to take your shopping bag with you, get yourself a 2-in-1 wallet with a built-in shopping bag for more eco-friendly shopping.

6. Learn to Unplug from Your Phone

Today’s world is crammed with information, and many people struggle to keep focus on what’s truly important. There’s just too much going on in the world – too much to read, to watch, to know, too many conversations to participate in.

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But how to refuse the temptation to check the phone and start using social media in a controlled, not a compulsive way?

Some tips for managing your phone-dependency:

Spend only a limited amount of battery per day

For example, start your day with 50% battery life, and manage your phone usage so that you’ll make it till the evening.

Block distracting apps and notifications on your phone and computer

Choose one-hour, two-hour or longer blocking sessions and enjoy the positive impact this will have on your mood and productivity.[3]

Set your phone on flight mode

When you start doing an important task that requires full focus, set your phone on flight mode so that nobody can disturb you.

Leave your phone at home or in the office when you go for lunch

You’ll see that the feeling of being unreachable for a moment is actually very liberating.

The Bottom Line

As a new year begins, we’re all excitedly looking forward to what adventures await ahead of us.

But this year, promise yourself this:

Instead of having a never-ending list of tasks and commitments, focus on the truly meaningful ones. And cross-out all the rest without feeling guilty.

Less is more. Make this year count. We’re all rooting for you.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Lark via unsplash.com

Reference

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