This is a guest post by Madeline Leahy from Emmanuel College.
I had slept a total of 8 hours in the past three days, leaving me at work downing a five-hour energy and praying that I didn’t fall asleep on my desk. If you are a college student, you can most likely relate to this scenario. I accepted it as an inevitable part of the college lifestyle.
My internship last summer at New England Country Rentals taught me that this “unavoidable” situation is very much avoidable. I found that there are four things you can do to avoid a sleep-deprived, draining four years and instead have a fulfilling and energetic college experience. Using these four tips, I am now able to juggle being a Marketing Assistant at Argopoint, a full-time student, and captain of the varsity lacrosse team.
Write out where you want to be in the next week, month, year, and couple of years. This will bring what is important to you to your attention and help you to guide your daily decisions and priorities. This past summer I interned, took classes, waitressed, and attempted to have a social life. While I enjoyed everything I was doing, this lifestyle was not sustainable – I got five hours of sleep a night and barely saw my friends and family. I made a list of goals of where I wanted to be both professionally and personally that helped me to focus. Now I have a more manageable schedule, and my daily priorities have more direction than before.
Identify your best work environment.
Sometimes we have other motivations that get in the way of how we accomplish tasks. For instance, when first starting at my internship at New England Country Rentals, I wanted to meet everyone and spend time socializing. Consequentially, I would do my work in what was the loudest part of the office. This ended up limiting the amount of work I could get done. One morning, I sat alone and accomplished more than I usually accomplished! I realized that there was a time for socializing, but when I really wanted to get work done I had to find an environment fit for that. Some people can work in a loud, boisterous environment; I am not one of them. Now when I want to get something done, I find a quiet place, put on noise-canceling headphones, and get to work. Getting more work done in the allotted time also lowered my stress level.
Before you begin your day, take the time to plan out everything you need to do. Writing out a to-do list will help you manage your time so that you do not forget or have to rush through anything last minute. One thing I learned while interning is that you should not write anything off as unimportant or quick, such as checking your e-mail, making a call, or going to buy lunch. These “quick” tasks can add up and cost you a lot of time. Instead, stay distraction-free and plan for these things, so they don’t end up taking time from other activities. My internship enabled me to take on this new approach at Argopoint, and every morning I formulate a list of priorities to help me stay on task.
Sometimes we just cannot handle any more, yet we continue to battle through our work–albeit in a non-productive way. Avoid the torture and take a short break before returning to your work. This can include a walk around the block, a trip to the vending machine, or a quick flip through a magazine. Taking this break will give you the energy you need to continue.
I still get to a point where I don’t think I can juggle working at Argopoint, lacrosse, school, and a social life. However, what I have taken away from my internship at New England Country Rentals, classes, athletics, and jobs, is that taking a step back and prioritizing time and tasks can truly make what is impossible, possible.