From Student Blogger, Karim: Working on Body and Mind, Part 2; The Mind

From Student Blogger, Karim: Working on Body and Mind, Part 2; The Mind

May 23rd, 2019

The average college student spends almost nine hours per day sleeping. This leaves 15 hours to balance work, school, and a social life. With 105 hours per week to work with, why is it that many of us feel like we don’t have enough time to finish what we need to do and do what we want? There are two main reasons for this; the first is there really is plenty to do and the second, and probably more common, is that we suck at time management.

Time management is a skill that many people lack- and I say this as I write this post hours before its due- it is incredibly hard to get good at. Throw in the part where I have ADHD and add in being on holiday, back in my home country; the motivation to do any work is almost nonexistent. Luckily, I thrive when under pressure. Anxiety and stress disappear when I face situations as such. The problem is, up to the point where I start the assignment, anxiety, and stress are always present.

The main reason for anxiety and stress amongst college students is maintaining academic success. College students have become the most stressed demographic in the US, where three out of every four students suffer from it. A student’s GPA impacts their scholarships, their financial aid, graduate school acceptance, and possible future job offers. For some, grades can mean having to repeat a few classes to even graduate.

As I mentioned earlier, there are many hours in the week. For most of us, it is not a lack of time that gets to us; it’s our inability to utilize that time properly. The average student spends 2.8 hours a day between classes and assignments while spending up to four hours a day doing leisure activities such as socializing and relaxing.

Know Where to Work:

  • Pick a place to study where you won’t get distracted;

For each credit hour, it is recommended to spend 2 to 3 hours studying per week. The average student doesn’t even pass 1.5 hours per week. On the rare occasions that we do pass this threshold, we feel like we haven’t accomplished much. When we decide to sit down and study, we always underestimate the amount of time a task will take us. By how much you ask? Well, if you estimate a task to take an hour, it will almost certainly take us up to two hours.

The problem is, we are pretty good at getting interrupted. Like, really good! In fact, we get interrupted almost every eight minutes, and each interruption lasts five minutes. What does this mean? It means that 50% of the time we dedicate to assignments or studying is wasted. Choosing a place where you can focus on your assignment and avoid distractions will help you finish quicker.

Know When to Work:

  • Choose the right time;

Some of us are hard-wired to get up early in the day, can get a few hours of work in, and then watch the world wake up. Some of us decide to go to bed when the world is already asleep, can’t function before noon, and do our best work after midnight. Studies show that when a night owl works in the morning, productivity falls, and when an early bird works late at night, productivity falls. Dedicate the right times to the important task, and you will find yourself alert and focused on finishing the tasks at hand.

Ask for Help:

  • Whether it is academics or mental health, most modern US campuses have plenty of resources;

One of the main forces driving tuition up is the large numbers of support staff that are now available for students. This includes everything from academic advisors to disability services to mental health and counseling services. Whenever you’re facing a problem, seek out these professionals. They are trained in their fields and are there to help.

The most important place to ask for help is your teachers. For most of my life, I struggled with my grades, and it wasn’t until graduate school that I started seeking help. I see a counselor every week to help me stay focused on my goals. I went and talked to the disability office to see what services were available to those with ADHD. More importantly, I talked to my teachers and made them aware of my problems. When you get the right help, you can be more focused on what your priorities are, making it easier to manage your time.  

Don’t Forget About Yourself:

  • All work and no play is an awful way to live your life;

In my undergrad, I did my best to schedule study time. In my graduate career, I ended up having to schedule time to enjoy myself. Finding that balance is key, and hopefully, with the right time management, it will be easy to achieve. Make sure to give yourself time to relax. This can be alone time with a book or getting together with friends to go to a movie. It can be scheduling a two-hour work out session in the gym or discovering the new mixed drinks the local bars have to offer. Whatever you choose, make sure you both enjoy it, and it doesn’t wear you out. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing.

With the right help, guidance, and the right awareness of time, most of your anxiety and stress will slowly go away. Not only that, but you will develop important skills to use throughout your life. Be selfish with your own time, and make sure you take care of yourself.


Karim Abdelazim is currently a graduate student at South Dakota State University.

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Karim Abdelazim

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