The Importance of a Balanced Plate

The Importance of a Balanced Plate. By PRA Mahima.By Mahima Mehta, Peer Research Ambassador

Going to college comes with a lot of new prospects — new friends, new classes, new clubs: new responsibilities.

Should you only commit to one thing? What if you’re interested in a bunch of things? How can you give them all your full attention? Although time management is an imperative skill, it can take a LONG time to develop — oftentimes through trial and error. Here are some points I have gathered along the way that have helped me with managing my time and being able to commit to all of the things I am interested in.

First: Google Calendar. Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love Google Calendar. There is something truly magnificent about having everything in one place and the peace of mind that offers. I use my Google Calendar to organize all aspects of my life, making a separate calendar for each aspect. I start with my non-negotiables. By this, I mean classes. I make an individual calendar for each course, locking in times of classes, exams, and important dates for things such as assignments and reminders. Next, I add another calendar for work. For me, this is tutoring for Biology 1107 and research in the Knutie Lab. Some labs may require you to come in at certain times each week, whereas others ask you to complete a certain number of hours per week. Since I fall into the latter category, I schedule times when I know I can go into the lab and get a reasonable amount of work done in one sitting. Identifying your non-negotiables helps better visualize what times of day you’re available, which is where I then add in the other things I am involved in but don’t need to attend every single day, such as clubs. As the Co-President of the UConn Pre-Medical Society and President of UConn SEEDS, I want to make it to the majority of our club meetings, so we aim to schedule events at times when most people are available.

Second: You deserve time for yourself, too. Once you have the core of your calendar laid out (classes, work, and clubs), now you can start adding in time for personal things. Personally, I know it can be easy to neglect really basic things — such as going to the Rec Center or even eating! As silly as it may be to hear, don’t skip meals! Your body needs to be fueled to function properly and do the things you want to do. In my schedule, I’ve added times throughout my day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is also super important to maintain a healthy sleeping schedule. Find out how many hours a night work for you, and stick to it. As someone who functions best with 7-8 hours of sleep and wakes up pretty early, I make sure I get to bed at a reasonable hour so I can feel well-rested for the next day.

Third: Make time for your social life. I know it can be hard to maintain when a successful student like yourself is involved in so many things, but you deserve some time to de-stress with friends, too! This means finding time in your schedule to get food, hang out, or just sit next to a friend while you both do your respective work (which is what I’m doing right now!). Whatever it is, find overlapping free time in your schedule and take advantage of it!

Fourth: Hold yourself accountable. I know this is easier said than done, but it truly is a big help when you stick to a schedule that works for you. It may also be helpful to find a “study buddy” to help hold you accountable. Try to reach out to at least one person in each of your classes so you always know someone who is in the same boat as you. Or, you could work with your roommate to find designated “study” hours to get assignments done. Whatever it is, finding a friend allows you to remember you’re not alone.

Lastly, these are just some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way to allow me to take part in all of the things that interest me. There are so many things happening here at UConn — remember to take time to enjoy it! Don’t limit yourself!

Mahima is a senior majoring in Molecular & Cell Biology and minoring in Spanish. Click here to learn more about Mahima.