A Guide to Time Management in Second Year
As the limbo between first year and third year, second year creates a bit of a divide between two types of individuals. In October, a proportion of your friends will seem to have matured over summer and will be looking ahead towards their careers, whilst the others will still be making the most of the university experience and will most likely be found on the NU12 coming back from somewhere or other…
Different times in the term are bound to bring out different choices, but most of us probably find ourselves somewhere in the middle of these two paths and want to reap the rewards of the first choices, whilst perhaps being more drawn towards the latter lifestyle!
It’s not always going to be fun to choose the networking meal over a movie night or to choose tomorrow’s 9am lecture over tonight’s circle. However, to me, whilst first year was about experiencing as much as possible, second year was about making smarter decisions – knowing my goals more clearly, what I enjoy and what matters to me.
In second year, as the workload ramps up and little things like commuting start to chip into your schedule, time-management will become an invaluable skill to have. This is a guide to navigating your best academic self during second year, whilst still finding balance.
1. Know your goals.
What do you want from second year? An internship? Good grades – what is that for you: 60%, 65%, 80%…? To do a great job as treasurer/VP/head of training in your society and become President next year? To live a healthier lifestyle or to have stronger relationships with friends?
Decide what matters to you and live your life accordingly. As well as a clear picture of your goals, you should know which of your goals is most important to you – it’s not humanly possible to play for Warwick every Saturday, apply to 20 internships and attend every lecture! In deciding your priorities, you’re deciding what’s going to give and where when things get tough. Your goals and priorities should guide you through the decisions you make in your second year – not what other people may think or want.
2. It’s okay to say NO!
Now you know your goals, this step should be a whole lot easier! Have the initiative and courage to say no to things that don’t align with your goals and values and remember every time you say yes, you’re saying no to something else – a yes to Smack Thursday, is most likely a no to Friday’s 9am!
However, don’t be afraid to offer alternatives that may fit in better with your schedule such as a coffee, brunch or a trip to the movies – whilst it’s important to start saying no, it’s just as important to maintain good friendships. Having stressed that, whilst your priorities should lead the way for the most part, continue to make an effort to show up to one-off events that matter to your closest friends. Learn that it’s okay to say no, so when you say yes you can really mean it!
3. Have your ‘non-negotiables’.
What keeps you sane? There’s a quote that goes – “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday – unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” And whether it’s meditation, a phone call with your friend or working out that keeps you sane, in times when we feel the most busy, anxious, stressed or overwhelmed, we should carve out time to take care of ourselves, because once we do so everything else will fall into place a whole lot more quickly!
4. Track your free time.
We always seem to make lists of To Do’s when we’re working – Finish assignment, Write intro for essay, etcetera… But, how are you spending your time when you’re not working? Few of us schedule our free time, after all who wants to write a list – Watch 2 episodes of Modern Family, Scroll TikTok for 45 minutes, Watch another 2 episodes of Modern Family, Post on Instagram… It’s a little less satisfying! However, facing the reality of how we spend our free time is exactly how we can be in control of it.
There’s nothing more frustrating than turning down plans with friends, because you have to work on your assignment, just to end up sitting in front of Netflix for a couple of hours. If you track how you spend your free time for just a week or two, and make a shift to spend it more intentionally you might realise you have time for a lot more than you initially thought!
5. Get ahead of the game!
If you have coursework and it overlaps with a holiday, if you can – do it during the holidays! For Maths students, it’s the Second Year Essay – I’m guilty of this eating up most of the spare hours of my Spring term at Warwick, and watched in envy as a couple of friends who had been smart enough to finish it over the Christmas break didn’t hold back enjoying their relative freedom! Don’t make the same mistake as me!
When, the burden of urgent workload seems relatively low, take advantage of these moments and just check if there’s anything else you should be doing to get ahead of the game!
I hope this guide helps any first years with the transition into second year and anyone else who has been struggling with time management. I’d love to hear any of your time management tips or questions in the comments!