Time Management

Learning an Instrument in College

I think at some point in their lives, most people hear a piece of music and think “wow… I wish I could play that.” For most of us, that idea remains an unfulfilled wish. It’s often hard to find the time or energy to learn, especially as an adult. But fear not, because I’m here with some tips on how to learn a new instrument in college! I’ve been playing the guitar for a while, but now I’m also learning to play piano. These tips proved useful to me, and hopefully they will be for you too!

budget time for your instrument

Budget Your Time- And be Realistic

Let’s be real; you might not have much time as a young adult to learn an instrument. The question is can you find just 15 minutes a day to practice? If so, then you can learn an instrument. The real difficulty is developing the habit of practicing. An old music teacher once told me practicing isn’t about having the willpower to practice – it’s about having discipline. Willpower is fickle, and relying on feelings to practice every day simply won’t work. Instead, find a consistent time to practice every day. Convince yourself there is no better use for that time other than practicing. Turn it into an ultimatum – It’s either practice, or stare at the wall. Then follow through and practice when the time comes. If you can only do 15 minutes a day, that’s fine. It’s enough to progress!


Make Sure Practice Time isn’t Wasted

Further pushing the idea of efficient time usage, make sure when you do practice, you aren’t spinning your wheels by dwelling on your past success. Ok, you finally learned that one piece you struggled with. Instead of playing it over and over, why not move on to the next piece? It’s imperative you keep learning every single day when you only have a limited amount of time to practice. I have made the mistake of dwelling on past success too long by “practicing” nothing at all for hours at a time.

Have some fun with your instrument

Have Fun With Your Instrument

The point of playing an instrument as an adult is to have fun, plain and simple. I probably don’t have to say it’s not likely to become your career. Also, your parents aren’t forcing you to play in a boring orchestra anymore. Have fun with your instrument! Learn some bluegrass fiddle parts for your violin. Learn to play your favorite TV theme song on your instrument and play along when it comes on. Practice music theory by writing a cover of Seinfeld two octaves higher than the original. If you’re not having fun playing music, why are you doing it at all? So go wild!

The Secret to Being Productive

old_clock_by_neyleI’m entering my senior year at college this fall, and if I’ve learned anything it’s that school is not easy. Between athletics, clubs, hanging out with friends, and generally enjoying the freedom of living on your own, it can be hard to find enough time for academics. Here’s a little secret that I picked up during my school days that might help you stay on top of your work: stop waiting for the perfect moment, because it won’t happen! There will never be that “Ah-ha!” moment when you have all the time in the world to sit down and study and finish projects and write papers. And even if there was you probably would not feel motivated and willing to do it. Just bite the bullet and get started, because it truly is the hardest part.

Rather than hanging out on your iPhone between classes or waiting for a ride, get out some work and get started. Use every second you’re given. I know from experience how important this is, and I can tell you that I’ve made many nights much longer than they needed to be by not doing this. I would get out of class at 4 and have a club meeting at 5, giving me an hour in between. I would decide that I really couldn’t get much done in that time, and instead play a video game or something like that. You’d be surprised at how much you can get done in an hour. Doing work at that time might give you another hour to sleep and trust me, you’ll thank yourself the following morning.

The best way to stay productive at college is to stay diligent. All that work can seem daunting at first glance, but if you stay on top of it, you can knock it out and still have time for all the other activities you want to do.

Share some of your best tips for staying productive in college; we would love to hear!

Shifting Schedules

After all of those all-nighters, cups and cups of caffeine, lack of exercise and tons of stress, going home for summer can be such a change, it could get you sick!

Be sure to make the transition gradually.  This goes out to the freshman especially as they have never gone through this before.  I remember the first time I came home after college, I slept for 15 hours and was in the worst physical shape I had ever been.  I ended up getting pretty sick for a few days too.  Be sure to get your rest, but set an alarm so you do not over sleep or you will have no energy the next day.  Getting your body used to drastically different sleep schedules doesn’t happen overnight (I know, I know, I’m sorry but I had to).

This gradual transition tip also goes for caffeine.  Going from a constant  IV drip of caffeine to none at all can leave you with mild to severe headaches, insomnia or exhaustion, irritability, constipation, lack of concentration, etc.  Tone down your caffeine once you get home and get back on your home schedule, but do not cut it out completely.  Reduce your intake and form of intake.  For instance, if you were drinking energy drinks, try having a small amount of coffee the next day for caffeine, then black tea, then white tea.  Some are more sensitive than others to caffeine shifts; be sure to listen to your body.

If you travel far for school, you may even feel a bit of culture shock when going back home for a few months.  Try to do some things at home that you would have normally done at school.  Keeping a similar schedule. Work out the same time you would if you were at school. Simply staying busy can be a good idea.  You may end up feeling restless or bored, feeling stuck at home instead of living the exciting college lifestyle.  In college, you are surrounded by people.  If you go home to the suburbs or a rural area, you may feel a bit isolated at times.  Be sure to stay busy catching up with family and friends not just getting right into your summer work schedule (if you have one).  Keeping in touch with friends from school can be good too, but be sure to live in the present and interact with the people who are physically around you.

Having things to look forward to in this regard can do you some good.  Getting a couple friends together for a road trip, sports game, or concert can be just the thing you need to get through the hours at a boring summer job.
If you do find yourself with a day completely free and bored, remember that it was only a few weeks ago that you were stressed out beyond belief, and there weren’t enough hours in the day.  Enjoy the days when you’ve got nothing to do since before you know it, you will be a graduate and enter the real world where there are no summers when you’re completely off.

– TravelBug

Pets in College

While in college, its normal to get a bit homesick.  Personally, the only piece of home I truly miss is my dog since I have everyone else I talk to.  Pets are the only relationships we can only maintain in person nowadays.  So why not bring your cat, dog, fish, or other pet with you to college?  Guys, its no question that walking around with a dog will draw girls to you like moths to a flame.  Plus, everyone likes to feel unique and you could be the only one on campus with a pet iguana or what have you.  There is a reason people don’t bring their pets to college.  There is a reason why pets are prohibited from dorms.  Here’s why:

What are two things you don’t seem to have enough of in college?  Time and money.  Having a pet takes up a lot of time as you need to make trips to the pet food store and veterinarian, exercise and play with your pet, clean up after your pet, etc.  All of these things also cost a lot of money.  Although the love of a pet is priceless, if a person does not have the time and money to properly care for an animal, you are doing the animal a disservice.

Pet hair isn’t so sexy.  Going to class covered head to toe in pet hair isn’t so attractive.  Inviting friends over to play with the new pet might be fun for a week or so, but eventually no one will want to come hang out when they know they will be covered in pet hair within seconds.

AskMen.com released an article about the importance of smell when it comes to attracting a person.  Pets can make your room, your bedding, your clothes, and you smell.  Adding this pet smell to a dorm room with piles of garbage, crushed up Arizona cans from weeks ago, bad milk in the fridge, and old pizza on the common room table is a horrible mix.  Even if you keep your dorm room perfectly clean, you will end up spending extra efforts to take care of that pet smell, which reinforces the time and money point.

Pets can trash your room.  If you think your roommate is a pig, imagine what an actual animal can do.  Even if caged while your out (which can be inhumane if you are always out of your dorm room) animals can break out of cages and pee and poop all over your room, dig through your things, and damage your things.

In some cases, an RA finding an illegal pet in a dorm room due to noise complaints or general room checks is grounds for kicking you out of housing.  A person could end up out of the money you or your parents spent on housing plus dealing with finding a place to live.  Not fun.

I am not against pets by any means.  My Border Collie Jack is my favorite family member (sorry Mom).  I just don’t think it’s a good idea in a dorm room.  Better wait until you have a place of your own to get a pet.


I’m reading Healthcare Finance

Kill The Procrastination Beast

There is nothing quite as self defeating as procrastination.  It’s like eating an entire cake–oh so delicious in the moment but hello regretsville ten minutes later when you switch from sweatpants to skinny jeans.  And the worst part is, when you look back on your time spent procrastinating, you didn’t even get to enjoy it!  Your time was tainted by the stress of what you actually needed to do.  Kill the beast.  Here’s how.

A beefed-up, well organized bookmarks bar can do wonders to crush procrastination.  One of my favorite websites, Cracked.com catches me  in a loop every time I go there.  I’ll click on link after link, each article more relevant and interesting than the next!  (they’re not of course, but as my procrastination desperation grows, discretion goes out the window).  Make yourself a bookmarks folder that says: interesting articles.  It’s so simple, but has multiple advantages: First, it de-clutters the tabs in your browser.  Im sure I’m not alone when I say that it’s annoying as hell to have tons of tabs open that aren’t remotely related to your current task, but nonetheless have to stay open for future reference.  If need be, make another bookmark folder: school.  That way when you switch from Biology to Chemistry homework, you can close out your tabs and have a clutter-free workspace, without worrying that you’re losing track of your other assignment in the process.

Second, it takes away your ability to rationalize your distraction.  If you can’t say, “Oh, I HAVE to read this now or I’ll forget to read it later,” the procrastination monster shuts up just long enough for you to get back to work.

Incentivize Getting Out of Bed
Getting an early start to the day has been SO critical to my success as a student, but procrastinating the inevitable–getting out of bed–has to be in a top 5 list of hardest habits to break.    My solution is incentivizing the wake up with something awesome.  That something used to be a cigarette when I smoked, but lately it’s a handful of Reese’s pieces or a sugary cappuccino and the great thing is, I just woke up so I’m not really hungry.  I can eat a handful and be satisfied, but now my butt’s out of bed and the hardest part is done!  Even if it takes some time to properly wake up, you can still get relatively easy stuff done that would eat up time later, like responding to emails or reading for a class you enjoy.

There’s an App for That
Stay Focused, an app for Google Chrome, blocks distracting websites for a set amount of time.  I love the blurb on their site :

“You sit down at the computer, and you swear you’ll be productive. Next thing you know, it’s twelve hours later. You’ve checked your email, updated your Facebook status, browsed the trending topics on Twitter, read your RSS feeds, looked up your favorite band on Wikipedia, vanity googled yourself, cyber-stalked your ex, looked at all your high-school crushes’ Facebook photos, watered your plants on Farmville, and lost a week’s pay playing online poker.  The one thing you haven’t done is WORK.”

Besides reminding you how embarrassing your old Farmville habit was (how did I ever justify taking 30 minutes to water my cabbage???) this app serves a dual purpose: it keeps you away from your usual procrastination haunts and trains you to stay focused for extended periods on a given task, a MUST for working in an office later.  Your employer might block Facebook and Twitter, but odds are you have plenty of other procrastination sites that kill your productivity.  Learn now to stay focused and make it easier for yourself down the road.  This app single-handedly cured me of a Facebook addiction that got out of control for a couple of weeks.  Get it for free here.

Now stop reading this blog and get back to work.


I’m reading Hamlet

The Best Time of Day to Work Out

There are plenty of debates about the best time of day to work out. Some say it’s best to work out first thing in the morning, others mid day, and then there are those that swear by late night sessions that send them straight into a deep sleep.

So when is the best time to hit the gym?

Talking strictly in terms of scheduling, there are pros and cons to different time frames.

Are you a morning person?  If you answered yes, then AM sessions might be worth exploring. Depending on when your first classes are, the early morning might be just what you need in terms of motivating yourself to sweat. Working out in the morning is an instant energy boost and helps jumpstart your day. You could potentially go to your first class having literally run circles around your classmates! However, timing really is everything. If you have class at 8, and the gym on your campus opens at 7— unless you have superman speed, and feel loosely about showering—you may need to opt for a later time.

So how do you feel about mid day? Do you have gaps in schedule? Some spare time to play around with? Some college co-eds are partial to naps whenever they have free moment—and that’s not entirely a bad idea, considering you need to give your hardworking body a rest every once and a while! But if you’re all napped out, and you have an hour to work with, why not mull over your assignment for your 2:00 class on the elliptical machines? No one says you have to power race on level 10, just do a casual session warming up your joints and getting your blood pumping. If you don’t need to primp excessively for class, this midday boost could give you the upper hand in your afternoon classes, and help fight off the urge to let your lids get heavy. I find it difficult to stay alert during afternoon lectures. A little workout to spice up your schedule and warm up your routine may be just the ticket!

What if you are booked solid from sun up to sun down? No problem. Maybe you’re an evening workout warrior. You may have to line up for equipment—everyone’s schedule is a little freer in the pm and students may have a workout on the brain just like you!  Working out during the evening can be relaxing and a nice way to wind down after a busy day of classes. You can de-stress while running on the treadmill, or lifting weights. After a good workout and a healthy dinner you will be set to start your homework, go out, or just relax and watch a movie. I’ve found that after a good workout and moving around, I feel the most productive and confident—like I could run another few miles! I don’t know if I would even put my money where my mouth is on that, but it sure feels good when you know you just worked hard and made it through the day.

Although there are different debates about when it’s best to work out, when you’re in college, the most important thing is just finding the time to work out! It’s not really a question on when, but more of a question of how to fit it in. My best advice is to schedule gym time into your planner or agenda. What works for me is seeing the word “gym” stare up at me from the pages. It’s already written so I know I have to go or unless I’ll have to scribble it out and feel bad for not going. By blocking the idea of working out into your day, you won’t be struggling with how to fit it in, but rather, finding the best time to make it happen. Working out is healthy and a great way to de-stress in college. So don’t worry about the when’s and just make sure you get out and move around—every time is a good time to get our your feet and get some exercise!


I’m reading A Pocket Guide to Writing History


Being an Athlete and Having a Social Life: The Balancing Act

College is a place for a clean start. A new beginning unlike any other as you are meeting new people, stepping out of your comfort zone, and…being an athlete? Many of your high school teammates have retired from their sport and are off to a new world of carefree parties, sleeping in on weekends, and having an overwhelming amount of free time. I run cross country and track for my university and I know firsthand how keeping up with an active social life can clash with athletics. Being that I run cross country in the fall, indoor track in the winter, and outdoor track in the spring, I don’t get a break. I simply have learned to balance.

Let’s start with the new world of carefree parties. There is nothing carefree about attending a party when getting caught could risk your scholarship or even your eligibility. Parties are a part of the college life that everyone should experience; athletes just need to be extra responsible. When you’re not away at a meet or a game you should take advantage of those off weekends! Go out with your teammates, they are in the same situation as you are and as teammates you will look out for each other. Act responsibly on these “off” weekends and remember as an athlete, you’re automatically in the spot light.

Sleeping in on weekends doesn’t happen that often for athletes. This can greatly affect your social life.  Who wants to stay out late on Friday night when they have 6:30am practice on Saturday morning? You must make friends with your teammates! Your teammates are the only people in the exact same situation as you. They’ll understand if Friday night turns into an early movie night instead of a party. Your teammates will spend hours a week with you in and out of practice, they’ll have your back, and they’ll understand your life style.

Athlete’s schedules can get crazy. Your friends might go to a few classes a day, relax at the mall, or go out for lunch. As an athlete you are expected to not only go to a few classes a day but to schedule them all around your 2-3 hour practice. Although free time is limited, it’s easier to work out a schedule than it looks. Based on your season, take the credits you can handle, go to practice, and be sure to get those required study hall hours your coach requires. I have managed to take 15 credit hours, attend track practice, do my homework, hold a steady job, do an internship, and spend time with my friends at the same time. It can be done. Be sure to write out a to-do list daily in order to keep all your responsibilities balanced.

It’s not easy to be a student athlete but it wasn’t easy to get there either. As an athlete you know all about setting goals and working extremely hard to achieve them. Balancing your social life and your hectic schedule is just like your sport, it just takes determination and a lot practice.

-Speedy G.

I’m reading Human Resources Management


How to Work in College and Still Get A’s

College is expensive, and seems to only get more and more expensive by the semester. Often, students have to work to buy food or help with the growing college loan. Work requires extra time and responsibility though, so it’s important to know how to balance work and school so your grades don’t slip—especially if you have a grade-dependent scholarship. Even if you don’t necessarily need to work, don’t automatically count it out. It is possible to work both at the office and at school and excel in each environment.

Balance Your Schedules
As students, we’re constantly being told to balance work and play…or in this case, school work and work-work. Unlike elementary school where your only homework was to learn how to share better; this is a highly prized skill that only gets more necessary with age. Once you have all your classes selected, take time deciding what kind of work schedule you can manage. Just because you have a two hour break between classes doesn’t mean you have to go to work. Take care of your homework after class so you don’t have to worry about it later, or take the time to get some extra studying in for a test in your next class. Going to work when you have a larger time availability will decrease stress and allow you to solely focus on school during your class schedule.

Be Able to Say No
Sometimes picking up the slack for a colleague who called in sick or has some function to attend is great; who doesn’t love making more money? But there are days when you have homework coming out of your ears, you already worked a long shift or you have lots of studying to do. Don’t let guilt take you over. It is not your responsibility to bend over backwards for your employer; you’ll end up becoming the go-to shift-coverer. If you really can’t handle the extra shift, a simple “Sorry, I can’t” is all you have to say. You don’t have to give an explanation or even listen to them go on and on about how no one else can cover. It might be hard—believe me, I’m one of those people who could never say no, but I finally grew a backbone—but school work needs to come first if you want to keep your grades high.

Weekend Working
Balancing school and work isn’t just a five day commitment. You don’t necessarily have to sacrifice your whole weekend, but you should be willing to spend some time at school or work or both. If you can’t work as much during the week due to school constrictions, the weekend is an excellent opportunity to make some extra cash. It’s not like you have to work both days, but even sacrificing a Saturday afternoon to work can prove beneficial to your bank account. On the other hand, if you have a lighter schedule and lots of work time during the week, dedicate some of your weekend to catching up on school work and studying. As said before, life’s a balancing act and fitting it all into the weekdays can get tricky.

Get Some Extra Help
Find yourself a study buddy or talk to your professors about your situation. Most of the time, they are very understanding and really want to help you succeed. But don’t go asking for extensions on every project and paper—just because they like you and understand you need to work, doesn’t mean they’ll always be willing to give you more time. Form study groups with your friends if work has taken away from you attending special lectures your professor sets up or hitting the library for outside information. Working together will help you all get better grades and get your work done faster. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer about your needs. As long as you don’t have a crazy boss, they should handle you occasionally needing some time off to study for a particularly hard midterm. It never hurts to ask.

Maintaining your grades and your job won’t always be easy, but it can be done. Don’t get discouraged and never be afraid to reach out for help. Most importantly, don’t wear yourself out in the process. Only take on what you can handle and do your best.


I’m reading Practical Research: Planning and Design