How to Find Free Time For Yourself


Every year, around 1,300 college students commit suicide. This is according to an LA Times article that can be found by googling “la times caltec suicide” and taking the first link. These suicides are caused by many things, but one common factor among students that contributes to suicide is stress. Too many college students try to tackle too many things at one time and don’t make anytime to just enjoy themselves. That is why today I am going to teach you how to find free time inside your busy schedule. First, we will discuss the importance of creating a schedule of your daily activities; next we will go over the necessity of saying “no” to requests, and lastly we will talk about distractions and how to avoid them.

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First, lets talk about making a schedule. I am sure a lot of you probably think to yourselves, “Wow, my days are so packed. I don’t have time for anything.” Well I am going to guess you actually have more time than you think. To really be sure on how much time you spend doing certain activities, you need to keep an hourly schedule. From the time you wake up until the time you sleep, write down what activities you have done and how long you did them. Be sure to do this for EVERY hour of the day. This is a neat exercise you can read more about by getting your hands on a Sac State First Year Seminar book and flipping to page 33. Once you have done this exercise and look back at your list, you will most likely realize that you spend more time fooling around than you might think. Best thing to do once you have all this information is to go back and reallocate your time better. Move some of your free time around and put it into your homework time. Then maybe you might actually get that assignment you’ve been putting off out of the way and you will actually have more time to enjoy simple things, like a hobby or just resting. Even if you cant reallocate your time, you will at least know that you do in fact have some free time, which can psychologically make you feel less stressed since you aren’t stuck in the mindset that you don’t have time to have fun. Just remember that being “busy” is not the same as being “productive.”

This brings us to our next topic: saying no. Just because you take on many obligations at once does not necessarily mean you are being productive. You should not be accepting more requests from people if you can not handle the extra stress. Sometimes it can be hard to tell a friend you can’t help them with something because you feel you will sound rude, but if you explain your situation they will most likely understand. You have to stand up for yourself and say, “I would love to help you move out of your apartment but I’m really flooded with homework right now.” Or if your friends ask if you want to hang out, just say, “Right now isn’t good for me, I have a report due tomorrow.” Your friends will respect your choice and know that you have other things in your life that require attention than just them. Simply put, if you don’t have time, don’t commit yourself to more obligations.

Lastly this brings us to our final topic. We will use what we learned about scheduling your day and saying no to requests to better understand how much time we have and more importantly, to understand WHAT our distractions are. It is easy to say that without distractions, we would get a lot more done. One of the biggest distractions is of course technology. Dr. Lary Rosen,who has a PhD in psychology, wrote an article about this subject. He says, “The worst students [are] those who [consume] more media each day and [have] a preference for working on several tasks at the same time.” Does this sound familiar? Maybe it sounds like your working habits. Do you have your phone out while doing homework or have the TV or computer on in the background? Well, studies show that you get much less work done with these distractions and the work that you do get done is less focused and less developed than a student who keeps his technology away during his study time. He goes on to say a few paragraphs down on the same article that an easy way to solve this problem is to take small “technology breaks.”  That is, while you do your work, set aside a minute or two to check your email or answer texts and then get straight back to your work. Over time you will gradually be less distracted with technology. Once you have cut yourself from distractions and finish your work, you can then set aside free time for yourself to do whatever you please.

Today we learned how to find free time inside your busy schedule. We did this by learning about managing your time better by scheduling your daily activities, by saying no to requests from friends, and lastly, by understanding what distractions are around you and how to deal with them. So next time you feel like you have to much on your shoulders to handle and you don’t think you can put up with it much more, just remember, its always good to put down your load every little bit and catch up on some R and R.

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