Taking 19 course credits while hosting a weekly radio show, coaching lacrosse, teaching yoga, and writing for RootsRated, I was not sure how I was going to manage. At the University of Denver a typical full time student will take between 12-16 credits. Anything more than 18 credits must be approved by the university.
After getting my heavy course load approved by the registrar there was no turning back and I was stressed. However I managed to have four friends visit me, attend yoga at least four times a week, get to the slopes 15 times spending two full weekends in Vail, road trip to Mount Rushmore for a weekend, camp at the Rocky Mountain National Park (during the first half of finals week)...
And stay sane.
Well, time management. I tend to be more productive the more I have on my plate. I think it is because I have no choice but to get things done, a rigid to-do-list. And I tend to feel I do better with crunch time. Weird, I know.
But let me tell you how I managed to continue coaching, teaching, and writing while receiving four A's and one B. And let me tell you, the courses I were taking were not a joke, all higher level courses, 3000 level. I was taking Digital Design and Editing, Media Ethics, Business Capstone (to complete business minor), an internship, and Media Law. And I was able to stay as the #1 show on KDXU radio, (Thank you for all who tune in! Check out my radio show on Tuesday evenings 8:00 MTN! Stream here kxduradio.com)
I am not bragging, well maybe a little, I am simply proud and actually quite impressed with myself! And if I can do it, for sure you can!
Step 1: Get a planner
This was advice from my mother, after I called her stressing, and it was the best advice. (Thanks mother!)
I invested in a daily planner and wrote down EVERYTHING I needed to do that day and wrote in Saturday's column: "goals" and jotted down the things to complete by the end of the week.
May sound stupid, but I promise it kept me sane! I would write every little task down from stopping at the bank, to writing assignments, to reading chapters, to emailing my boss, to creating a radio playlist etc.
After you finished the task it is a wonderful feeling when you get to cross it out! And if you can make your end of the week goals attainable your weekends will feel that much better.
Step 2: Know your schedule/deadlines and prepare.
It's important to have an idea of what and when assignments are due and comparing them to your other courses. It is important to be aware of your busiest and lightest weeks.
Once you have an idea of the assignments due and what your schedule looks like that week, you will be able to discover when to complete them in order to balance out the load.
Let me give you an example, week one of courses is pretty much syllabus week so get started! There is no time to waist.
Since DU is the on the quarter system there are 10 weeks in a quarter, 5 week is midterm week, it goes by fast.
My friend from Spain was the first visitor, Elena. She was coming for a week, Tuesday - Sunday of week 8. Then my friend Sam was visiting week 9 from the following Monday after Elena until my best friend Valentina was visiting that Friday end of week 9 through FINALS week, week 10. She left on Saturday and then my sister came to visit that following Monday for spring break. So how did I manage to get through those last four weeks doing all of the above, showing them a good time, and get all As and one B?
I still question it, but then I think no Dev, you did a good job managing time.
So I reviewed my deadlines for all my courses and started preparing. I knew the end of the quarter would be insane with the guests. And also the fact that all these visitors (except my sister) have never been to Colorado before and wanted to see everything they could. And how could I not show them it all? Elena coming from Spain! And the others from the East Coast, I had do it.
Oh, and don't let me forget to mention that I only missed ONE class for EACH course the WHOLE quarter...
So anyway preparing... Week one and week two I acted like it was finals week and started doing assignments that were not due until the end of the quarter.
For example for my ethics course I needed to complete three papers about an ethical issue in the news today. They were due throughout the quarter, I finished them by week 4. I know you may be thinking that the syllabus changes and you don't know what the teacher is looking for, that's totally fine, I understand.
I waited to get the first paper back before attempting the other two and once I saw I did well I based the others off of the first. And if you have questions, ask! It shows the professor you are ahead of schedule and keeping on top of your class, which you are.
And so anyway, our schedule changed and no longer was the last paper due! I was bummed. But I thought, it can't hurt to ask. So I sent an email with the paper attached telling him I already completed the last paper and if he was interested in reading it I would appreciate it... I got extra credit! (Not too bad for staying on top of it, huh?)
I understand not all things can be done in advance like group presentations/projects which I had three to do. And so I realized not everyone wants to get a chunk done well in advance, but I did what I could do on my own!
For example, with the group projects for two of them, we had the rubric early in the quarter, and I took initiative and divided up the parts. I went ahead and created a Google doc for each group and started doing my sections early. When time came for the project to be done I would say, "I finished mine (at this point a few weeks ago) let me know if you would like me to edit or help out."
Now, I get frustrated when I am going to put the final piece together and the other members take forever to get there parts in. So when that is the case I say, "If you guys have your parts finalized two days before it is due I will be happy to finalize and put it together, but if you can't do that then how about one of you finalize it?" Usually that works, it did for me.
Point of this step, make a schedule of when and what you're going to accomplish by basing it off of your syllabi, work and social schedule.
Which brings me to the next step...
Step 3: Don't forget about YOU (and your social life)
One might say they can't have a social life or do anything else is wrong. Or simply they can't time manage. Trust me, you need this step.
And if that is hanging out with friends, reading, hiking, or going to yoga it can be done.
We must remember, no matter how jammed our schedule is, that life is short. And if we spend all our energy focused on the "to-do-list" we get lost and so does our happiness and maybe our health.
Despite the fact I had a ton going on I still made sure to go to yoga at least four times a week. My goal would be five to six. I was doing at least four yoga sculpt classes a week and then if I made it to fifth or more I would attend one hot power fusion or another hot yoga class.
Because I am naturally wired with energy a lot of it gets ruffled into stress and really when we have a demanding schedule we can't waist our precious energy on the stress of things to do. So I used my energy toward the necessary things.
I went to yoga almost daily and I made sure to spend at least one to two evenings a week out late with my friends.
This part keeps you sane and reminds you of the beauty of life. That no matter how demanding and intense our schedule, we can find time for ourselves and it is so important that we do because if it wasn't for our bodies and minds in the first place we would not be here.
Be thankful for your health, we are human and social needs are necessary so include that in your planner along with everything else!
Step 4: Plan in advance
I know that sounds annoying for me to say being one that strives to live my life in the present BUT when it comes to a heavy load you must plan ahead. It makes life in the present much more enjoyable.
Another example, since I could not spend every minute entertaining my guests and would need time for the library, I made them a list of things to do while they were on their own. So one evening when I was getting my social time in watching TV with my other best friend, Kiki, and was too tired to do work I made a list of things to do while I was gone.
I made a list of breweries around the Denver area they could visit with directions, the hours, the cost, etc. I made another list of top museums around Denver with the same information. And if my car was not available I printed out all the light rail trains that take you from DU to downtown. I highlighted the routes Northbound and Southbound and walking directions to the light rail. And just in case they wanted to go for a run or check out the amazing parks in walking distance to my house I gave them directions to two parks around me. So with all that, I also made personal maps on Google Maps with icons of my house, the light rail stop, the path to take, the parks etc.
I also wrote down all the local places to grab breakfast/lunch when I was in class and directions how to get there. Then I would not be bothered when I was busy getting work done, brilliant!
And for my Spanish friend I made a calendar of what to do each day. Although I was still going to classes, teaching yoga, broadcasting the radio, etc. I was able to take her to the mountains, to Red Rocks, to a lacrosse game, out around DU etc. I had it planned to a T as some would say.
More or less they became useful and I showed them to all my friends that came to town. I was planning their arrival and what they would do when I could not be there!
I did my best.
And what a relief it was when I could FINALLY be alone. If you know me, I enjoy my time alone more than anyone else. I enjoy sitting in silence and simply being alone. So that was amazing and I am quite impressed that I stayed sane with so many visitors. Not to mention my other activities going on.
Step 5: Be proud, confident and motivated
No matter what, every task we take on in life is a challenge. And even if you have an easier work load than before, it is not easy. From the wise words of my mother, "There is always something." And "Nothing is simple". It's true.
Unfortunately or fortunately there is always something. It is the way this life is and we need to be proud of all our accomplishments and be confident in ourselves and in what we can accomplish.
If I started the quarter not believing in myself and not having confidence that I could finish this quarter strong, I wound't have.
If I set my standards to finish the quarter with C's, that is selfish. Set your standards with confidence and be motivated to be the best you can be and do the best you can.
It is selfish to not be motivated or confident in your abilities because you are not letting yourself be the best human you can and you are selfishly hiding your capabilities from the world and how can you be proud of yourself when you know if you did a little more or pushed a little harder you would have truly earned your success to the fullest?
I do my best to be the best I can be. I do not compare myself to others nor fight to be the best. I fight within myself to be the best to which I am capable of. And I am not close to being the best at anything but I am confident, proud and motivated to be who I am because I know I put all my efforts in to the fullest with positive energy at each challenge that comes my way.