I Graduated So Now What?: Time Management After College

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Graduating from college is a great accomplishment.  You work possibly the hardest you have ever worked in your entire life in order to receive the divine and glorious paper that is a college diploma.  This dazzling 8×11 piece of paper appears to be your golden ticket out of the final straps of youth, and into the Wonka World of adulthood.  There is only one problem.  For the first time in your entire life, you are in charge of your time. Being the dictator of your time may sound like a dream come true at first.  However, as time goes on, you may begin to feel like a plastic bag in the wind.  Floating and aimless in your freedom.  You are now the dictator of your time and actions. This may conjure up some intimidation and anxiety.  Don’t be so hard on yourself.  After all, this is the first time an outline or a syllabus won’t tell you what to do and how to do it for the next 6 months.  You need to recreate your own goals and deadlines in order to ensure that you continue to grow and make progress.  The best way to accomplish this is by getting organized and learning how to manage your time.

Managing your time is easier said than done.  Between Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat–even writing a simple grocery list can feel impossible.  Like accomplishing most things in life, the first thing you need to do is get organized.  If you are anything like myself, organization is not your finest attribute. Consider picking up the book, One Year To An Organized Life by Regina Leeds.  It is a week by week guide on the steps that you should take to get your life in order not just for the season, but for good.  I (being the easily distracted procrastinator that I am) have not finished reading it yet.  However, the first forty pages that I did read have been truly life changing.  Here are a few tips I’ve learned from her book, and a couple more I have acquired myself.



Imagine this.  You come home from a long day at work or school, and all you can think about is getting into your home and getting in the bed.  There is only one problem.  Things from the bathroom are in the living room, things that belong in the living room have some how landed in the bedroom, and every outfit you’ve worn since Saturday night have become a part of your home decor. As you look around you start feeling overwhelmed.  You think to yourself, “Where do I even start?” There is a system I have discovered that will assure your space to be recognizable within the next hour if done properly.

First, you want to bring all items into the room that they belong in.  You are not going to put the items in their proper place yet.  Simply place them somewhere in the room they belong in.  Once you have done that, pick a room to start in and put all of the items in that room in their proper place. Repeat this process for each room that you’re trying to clear.  The difference you will see in your space after following these two simple steps is enormous.  Now that everything is in its proper place, you can clearly see what needs to be cleaned or thrown away.

Our living space being cluttered or disorganized can be an indication of how we feel about our lives.  If your life feels chaotic your living space is most likely disorganized.  If your living space is a disarrayed environment, it will be very hard to think clearly and make sound decisions.  Everything is connected.  In order to avoid this from happening again, immediately put items back where they belong right after you’ve used them.



In order to organize your mind, purchase a calendar, dry erase board or a chalkboard.  Better utilize the calendar on your cell phone or tablet.  I have a chalkboard in my kitchen that I bought from Target for only ten dollars.  I draw a line down the middle and on the left side I write down appointments and deadlines for the week.  On the right side, I write down the dates of appointments and events for the month to make sure that I don’t over book anything.  In addition to that, I enter everything into the calendar on my cell phone.  If there is something that I want to remember to do–such as to call/text a friend, I will set a reminder on my phone.  That way I can’t unlock my phone to use it without viewing the reminder.  This is easier to do with an iPhone.  If you are more old school, try writing things down in a notebook.  Studies show that when we physically write something down the chances of us remembering it increases–especially if you read it to yourself out loud afterward.  I did this in college in order to study for exams and it worked 100% of the time.  Find what works for you and be consistent until it becomes a habit.  The key is to constantly have the things you need to do right in front of you or else it will all blend together into to one big fog.



If you have to review your finances or go food shopping so that you can have actual food to eat in your home, there is no reason that you should be updating your Facebook status.  Make a list of everything that needs to be done by today and strive to complete everything on your list.  Don’t even think about doing something that can be done two weeks from now.  Do not trick yourself into thinking that you making more progress by jumping around to different tasks.  This is mindless productivity that will keep you busy but wasting your time on menial tasks.  Take one important task at a time until you are complete.  When you have completed your ‘to do today’ list,  you can start looking at tasks for the next day or give yourself a pat on the back. Pour an ice cold drink and pop on Netflix because you’ve earned it.



This is one that I still have difficulty with. We want to do everything and be everywhere.  Thanks to social media fear of missing out (FOMO) has created this unspoken notion that we always need to be going somewhere or doing something.  Do not put too much on your plate or you will quickly feel burnt out and unable to complete even menial tasks.  We all want to have a fun life, but a part of growing up is knowing when to say no. Sometimes we just need time for ourselves to think.  It helps us to feel refreshed so that when we do associate with our friends we are at our best. Running yourself ragged doesn’t help anyone–especially if you still have wet clothes in your washing machine that should have been in the dryer two days ago.  Say no to FOMO.  This brings me to my next tip.



There have been so many times when I know that I absolutely need to make a doctors appointment. Suddenly I am blessed with twenty minutes of free time before I need to go back to work.  Instead of calling, I start browsing through Tumblr or Instagram mindlessly.  Before I know it, thirty minutes have gone by and I have done nothing, but like eight photos of Justin Bieber and watch four videos of baby sloths eating lettuce. It sounds funny, but it is a real problem, ladies.  Setting a specific amount of time for browsing has shown me how much time I usually spend and it is shocking.   It also helps me to stay on track with tasks I need to complete.  Think of social media as a sweet snack for your day.  You eat a little bit at a time when you need a little something sweet to keep your day moving.  The more candy you eat the more addicted you become.  The longer you stay on the internet the harder it is to get off.



When we are planning out our day we know how much time it takes us to brush our teeth, make our lunch and drive to work.  What we often fail to take into account is choosing an outfit, loading things into the car, and traffic.  Allowing for time in between tasks can not only give us space for last minute mishaps but also give us time to take a breath.  Maybe that extra few minutes of buffer time allows you to grab a cup of coffee from your favorite cafe. Maybe you can call a friend or even take a short cat nap (be sure to set an alarm if you do so).  Don’t think that because you always tend to be early you are not using your time well.  There will be a day that traffic is heavy and you’ve forgotten that your car needs gas.  On that day, you will be glad that you left a few minutes of buffer time.

I hope that these tips will help everyone to better achieve organization and time management. Remember that it takes twenty-one days to form a new habit so don’t get discouraged if it is taking you some time to readjust.  We are all a work in progress.  Now roll up your sleeves and remember to work smarter not harder.