As a junior, my life just got real. It hit me once I hit the momentous third year just how much my present actions will directly impact my future, and how much the latter depends on the former. It’s a little scary—and because of that, I felt like I had to do everything at once. I felt like I had to take a million classes to get closer to fulfilling all of my general education and major requirements to graduate, as well as making sure I was setting myself up to successfully study abroad. So academically, I ended up finding myself taking 6 classes—for a total of 19 credit hours. This is the most credit hours I’ve taken by far. Further, I hold two part-time jobs; one boosts my resume, as it’s an on-campus job, while the other job boosts general financial standing, as it’s a restaurant nearby. In addition, I’m the president for the First-Generation Low Income Partnership at my school.

I also have ADHD—so it’s a given that time management is a ~big~ thing for me. I barely have time to do the bare minimum, so carving out time for big assignments and exams is especially challenging. But I’m here to pass on the knowledge of what I’ve learned in organization skills, as well as the big-picture stuff that we always seem to forget.

Last year, I cracked the code of what I need to be successful in my time management; unfortunately, it took so much time to manage my time that I had to majorly streamline the effort, but I’ll share what I did regardless. Bullet journaling became a short-term hobby of mine, but I realized that I needed something ~more~ than bullet-journaling to truly capture my needs. That’s when I realized the concept of my own bullet planner: part bullet journal, part planner. I needed integral parts of either; the bullet journal aspect provided many different spreads to organize my thoughts, as well as running to-do lists. The planner part relayed my day-to-day, hour-by-hour schedules. This is how I broke it up: I started the week off with Sunday, and had an hour-by-hour calendar that started at 8:00AM and ran until 12:00PM. Under each day was the individual day’s to-do lists. Next to the weekly calendar, I had a weekly to-do list. This way, I knew what I had to do for the week, as well as have everything centralized in case I finished my daily tasks and could move on to the something pressing for the second half of the week. That worked like a charm—it was just a pain in the butt to draw the template every week, and because of that, I sometimes went whole weeks without them.

Since that took too long, I am now revising the process. I put everything on Google calendar, and put my to-do lists in my agenda. I’ve grown so busy now that I also write a few sentences of how my day was next to all of my to-do lists so I can look back upon this busy and time and reminisce accurately.

Having a digitized calendar is very convenient for many reasons! Not only does your phone have the capabilities of sending you notifications, as well as the quick addition/edit/creation of events, but you can also share your calendars! My friends and I are all on entirely different schedules, each riding our own academic rollercoasters, and we seldom have time where all 3 of us are free at the same time. We all shared our calendars with each other, so it is much easier to coordinate activities. Nothing puts a smile on your face like your friend texting you, “Hello, dear friend. So I see we are both free Tuesday night from 5-8. ;)”

One inevitable thing that I had to do was cut back on sleep. I’ve never been the model of healthy sleep schedules, but this semester, given that I work 40 hours a week and I’m in 19 credit hours, something had to give. Despite the initial exhaustion that accompanies only sleeping 5 hours, waking up early to finish homework and spend some time alone in the morning is blissful. I do highly recommend.

Lastly, I want to point something out that took me a few years in college to really understand. It’s not always about ~how hard~ you work. One thing that comes with being first-generation is this belief that there’s this direct correlation between how hard you work and the benefits you reap. That’s the ideal world—but we live in a world where social capital runs the world. In my humble opinion, while grades still matter, it’s not the grades that get you the job—it’s the people connections that do. It’s a huge, elitist reality prone to inevitable self-selection. So keep that in mind. Build connections with people.

And finally, don’t forget your own humanity. We auction our time off and always stay busy because of this ingrained belief that we always have to be productive to society, but in the end, society lives on. Do what you want irrespective of society.

If you want more info on the title, refer to Chicano Batman’s “Freedom is Free.” You won’t regret it.