Learning Time Management at College

I like drawing out schedules to follow. I don’t like following them. Let's hope this semester is the one I acquire time-management skills as a college student with ADD/ADHD.
ADHD College Blog | posted by Henry Greene

Today, I’m penciling my fall semester’s class schedule into neat boxes: 11 a.m., English literature; 12 p.m., American literature; 1 p.m., creative nonfiction; and so on.

I’m taking a total of five classes, which adds up to 15 hours of classes a week. Ah, the ease of college life. I kick my feet up on my desk and stretch, ready to cruise through the semester.

Of course, I also have to study. For me, studying with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) is a complicated ritual involving staring out windows, imbibing dangerous volumes of caffeine, and rhythmically pounding my forehead against my desk.

Add in studying and college becomes a full-time job, about 45 hours a week of work. At last, with my general education requirements out of the way, I'm finally ready to rip into the classes I've been dying to take. Forty-five hours a week reading great literature? Poor me.

But there’s a problem. Those 45 hours a week will let me write “bachelor’s degree” under the “education” section of my résumé. They do nothing to fill the “work experience” section. The “work experience” section doesn’t look pretty if it’s blank.

Suddenly, I remember why my ADD/ADHD self hasn’t been sleeping very well. I bolt up with a start and smack my feet firmly on the floor.

This fall, I’m adding three new lines under “work experience.” I’ve been hired as a writer for Temple University’s PR magazine, as a tutor at the university writing center, and as a columnist covering Philly’s literary scene for the Temple News.

All of this will make my résumé much prettier. It will also make my wallet vastly thicker. But, I think, as I grab a calculator, money isn’t the only variable in this equation. If time = money, then money = time.

So much for my light workweek of leisure reading. Add 15 hours a week for the business school’s magazine, 12 hours for the writing center, perhaps three to five hours for my biweekly column. The sum total -- 75 hours a week -- is anything but leisurely. It’s time for this ADDer to learn time management. [Editor's note: You should really check out ADDitude's wealth of articles on managing time and money.]

Time management hasn’t been my forte this summer.

This morning I arose at 9 a.m. and complained to my mother about only getting eight hours of sleep. I didn’t bother to look at a clock till noon. What had I accomplished by noon? I’d downed one pot of coffee, a half pack of cigarettes (quitting is still a work in progress), and one frozen pizza while spending two hours watching a German film on Netflix.

Finally, around 1 p.m., I buckle down and crack open a textbook for my summer literature class: The Norton Anthology of English Literature: Paradise Lost. Time for some hard work, I think, as I recline in my overstuffed couch.

I remain in that reclined position till 4 p.m., managing to read a grand total of 25 pages between coffee breaks and naps. Twenty-five pages seems like a solid day’s work, I tell myself. Without breaking from my reclined position, I grab a remote and return to Netflix. Maybe a French film this time around, or South Park.

I better practice lifting myself out of the La-Z-Boy while I’ve still got time. Come fall, I won’t be reading from a reclined position. Twenty-five pages of schoolwork will be chump change. Multiply that by my five classes and add in a magazine article or two, a four-hour shift tutoring fellow students, and a rough draft of a column. I’ll have to bid a teary-eyed farewell to my overstuffed couch.

I will also have to stop drawing out schedules to follow and start following them.

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