Students should schedule even the small things — like meals, commutes and chores — to have an accurate understanding of where their time goes, a Texas A&M University-San Antonio academic success coach said Wednesday, Oct. 17 on campus.
Kathryn Zepeda of the Student Academic Success Center led “Managing your Time in College” in MOD 101B. The workshop, part of the center’s G.R.O.W.L. series, attracted nine students who wanted to manage work and school schedules along with spending time with family, friends or a significant other.
“You’re here because there’s a cog in the wheel that’s broke,” Zepeda said.
Zepeda began by asking each student to fill out a timesheet of their schedule, After, she asked if the students included things like commuting, eating, daily chores or sleeping.
None of them had done so.
She explained that when students don’t plan these things or when they procrastinate, it induces stress, which leads to poor quality of work, followed by poor grades.
“If you don’t want to stress, don’t procrastinate,” Zepeda said.
Zepeda admitted she tends to be a procrastinator with daily life, such as laundry and sewing, the latter of which is a hobby of hers. She would procrastinate so much with sewing that she would still have lots of unused fabric.
“I’m gonna make this, make that, and I always put it off,” Zepeda said.
To avoid procrastination, her key focus was using a planner, whether it be on paper or electronic. Once students find the right format, they should always add important dates besides class and work times.
“This is what I do: I get this [academic calendar] schedule, I cut it up, I put it in my planner so that I know when drop dates are, classes begin, last day to register,” she said.
Zepeda gave three steps to balance school, work and daily life: evaluate time management for work, school, sleeping, driving and other activities or priorities; integrate organization tools; and prioritize goals, which typically have a tendency to change in daily life.
“Priorities change, goals get adjusted,” Zepeda said. “Goals will always be adjusted day to day.”
Zepeda said students can use a mirror or whiteboard to draw out a weekly schedule. This can be useful for students who live in the dorms, because they can use their mirrored closet doors.
They can start on a Saturday or their slowest day of the week and fill in fixed school and work times.
Once those are filled in, they can use colorful sticky notes to write down future assignments and place them in the open gaps where nothing is scheduled. When the assignment is completed, throw away the sticky note to have the satisfaction of completing a task.
“I am real big on using sticky notes because I like that feeling of pulling them off and throwing them away,” Zepeda said. “I feel accomplished.”
Biology sophomore David Hernandez said he did not feel alone as a procrastinator after attending the workshop.
“It’s not a ‘me’ type of problem — everybody is kind of on the same path; they procrastinate,” Hernandez said. “So, it’s not something that only I struggle with, but a lot people struggle with.”
Zepeda also said that because many people tend to get so consumed with themselves, they tend to not realize how that can affect others around them.
“We are a society of very selfish people, in my opinion,” Zepeda said. “We get so consumed with ‘my time, my money, my goals,’ that we forget to evaluate the whole picture.”
She used the example of a student who arrived late to class and left halfway through the class because the student lived an hour away from campus.
“What’s important to you is not important to your professor,” Zepeda said.
Zepeda also grabbed students’ attention when she described her experiences in the fire academy. She said she kept asking questions because she did not understand hydraulics. Other students got frustrated with her for keeping them from moving on. Finally, the instructor told those students, “OK, since you know all about it, come up here and explain it.”
Zepeda used this story to show that students should ask a lot of questions when they don’t understand something. Procrastination comes in many forms, such as quickly moving on from something when it’s unclear.
Zepeda served water, apple juice and breakfast pastries, along with pens, sticky notes and daily planners, at the workshop. She reminded students that the Student Academic Success Center has ‘Walk-in Wednesdays’ in Room 336 of the Senator Frank L. Madla Building for help with time management and study habits.
There are five freshman Academic Success advising coaches and two Jags advising coaches available for students. Scheduling an appointment can be done on Jagwire in the EAB- Student Success Collaborative section by clicking ‘Get Advising’ or calling 210-784-1307.
“I strongly urge you to figure out a tool that works for you,” Zepeda said. “If you need help, come see me; I love planning someone else’s time.”
Criminology senior Vanessa Moreno said she uses a plan similar to Zepeda’s to manage her time.
“I already use the agenda, in regards to organizing everything, like sleep,” Moreno said.
Kristopher Aguirre and Presciliano Zek Hernandez contributed to this story.