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Like most college students, you have spent at least 12 years studying, preparing, and focused to get to your dream University. Years of hard work, community service, study, learning, sports, music, or any other activities to craft a fit profile to be able accepted in every University in the country. However, when finally, that goal is reached, dorm life, new freedom, and much higher demands create an overwhelming feeling that you might not be able to cope with everything. You thought it was all about hard-earned skill, but somehow you start figuring out that there is something else. All those efforts and sacrifices and still feeling unprepared. This feeling is not your fault, or for that matters nobody’s fault. The answer is learning some soft skills, in particular, time management.

College is meant to be a growing experience; therefore, it has to stretch you beyond what you think your limits are. Now is the time to grow and set the foundation of the skills that will help you navigate the tumultuous waters of adult life.

Every advisor will suggest having a good balance of hard and soft skills. If you are in college is to learn those complex subjects that will allow you to make a living, but if you only get the formal knowledge you would miss the most important lessons that will allow you to have a successful life. What I mean by this is not only that you might get more money or a better company, but a meaningful and happy life.

Among the hard skills, you should learn Algebra, History, Languages, Computers, Literature, Biology, or whatever your major is. But the soft skills usually do not have a class and are not graded. Soft skills are meant to be learned by doing activities such as teamwork, communication, empathy, emotional intelligence, leadership, self-awareness, and time management among others.

Let me talk a bit about time management as it is barely taught. There are many theories and several techniques that you can read on. All of them basically are based on the following components: Time nature and human nature.

Time nature

  • Time is an equalizer; everybody has the same 24 hours a day. No single human being has a second more than anybody else.
  • We can’t save time, either we use it, or we lose it. By the end of the day, those 1440 minutes are gone forever.
  • Finally, every activity will require time. In the wise words of Warren Buffet “You can’t produce a baby in one month by getting nine women pregnant.”

Human nature

  • We tend to underestimate the amount of time we need to accomplish a task.
  • If we are given more time (meaning the deadline is postponed) for a particular task we tend to let this task expand to use all the extra available minutes. It is known as Parkinson’s Law.
  • If we are interrupted during a task, we need extra time to recover from a distraction and get back on track. A phone call or a quick email cost you more than you might think!
  • It is really hard to set priorities as we confound importance with urgency.
  • We tend to postpone what we perceive as unpleasant.

Best time management techniques

Ok, we all get (more or less) those ideas, but what can you do? How will you manage your time? Here is a list of those theories that have been created during the years to deal with all this mess. Is up to you to choose which one is best for you. I suggest reading them all as you might find that the best solution for you is a mix of them. I provide a link to specific blog entries for each on not to make this post too long.