As a freshman in college, I had no idea how to manage my time. The line between school, home, library, and extracurriculars all blurred together and I struggled to find a way to efficiently do it all. I tried keeping track of things in my head or writing them down on sticky notes and a planner. But what really worked, and what I still recommend to every student to this day, is Google Calendar! Seems simple enough right? Just block off everything on your schedule? Let me tell you, there is so much more you can do.
Each semester, I spent about an hour before classes started to create my weekly template on Google Calendar. I added lectures, discussions, office hours, club meetings, research lab times, volunteering times, etc. They actually have a great feature where you can use different calendars for each of those categories instead of overlapping all on one template. I also found it helpful to color code different categories: classes in one color, extracurriculars in another, and fun events in a third color.
As the weeks went by, I also added in review sessions, coffee chat meetings, hangouts with friends, gym times, and really anything else that I needed to do. During busy weeks, I would also add an additional calendar to map out where/when I would study different subjects or complete different assignments. At UC Berkeley, we had an entire week before finals where there was no formal instruction. I carefully mapped out all my final exam review sessions, group study hours, and personal study blocks. It was honestly fun to find different places on campus and add them to my calendar as something to look forward to. That week especially can get very overwhelming so I made a point to also include break times and scout out any de-stress events held at my school. Something as simple as “dinner with roommate” gave my brain the mental check to stop studying at a particular time.
For the tasks themselves, Google Calendar also has a task feature where you can create daily task lists that are attached to the calendar schedule for that day. Crossing things out on that list is so satisfying! Another favorite feature of mine involves inviting people to your events. Say you and your lab partner want to schedule a time to work on your lab report. You can find their Google Calendar and compare it to yours to find a chunk of time where you are both free. Next, you can make the event, invite them, wait for them to accept, and then you both can have the event on your calendar. That small step really helps to keep one another accountable. You can even use it to schedule club events, meetings, or friend hangouts. Over the pandemic, Google even added the option to include a Zoom Link in the calendar invite!
Some of what I included in my Google Calendar might not work for you! Admittedly, mine was a bit over the top but I had a lot of fun with it. Having things to do on my schedule made me feel more productive and consequently, more likely to get things done. Here’s an example of what one week of my calendar looked like! Hopefully these tips can help you get started on managing your time a little bit better. I’m happy to chat further and find what time management/organization tools might be best for you!
Navya is a consultant on the Study Hall College Consulting team. She recently graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2021 with a double major in Molecular Cell Biology and Public Health. She is currently working as a medical assistant and applying to medical school. For more application and essay tips, check out our Study Hall College Consulting website at: shcollegeconsulting.com.