The only thing more daunting than having back-to-back classes is having a five-hour gap in between classes and not knowing what to do with it. Heading back to your dorm room to catch the next episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” may sound pretty good, but then you might not want to go back outside. Netflix tends to have that effect on people. You could probably find a comfy corner in the library and watch funny YouTube videos on your phone. At least then you wouldn’t be tempted to fall asleep on your bed, but you would be preparing yourself for a major screw-over.
Unproductive habits can decrease your chance of academic success. Some students claim to work better when they’re pressed for time, but trying to finish two papers and study for three quizzes probably won’t go over so well.
Aiming to be as productive as possible each day can help put your mind at ease because you’ll have one less thing to do on your weekly to-do list. If you want to be good at this whole productivity thing, you’ll probably power nap and clean your room. If you want to be great at it, though, here are some things you can do to make sure you use your time in between classes wisely.
1. Hit up Office Hours
You don’t need to have a problem in a class to visit your professor’s office hours. Drop by just to simply say, “hi,” or listen to their professional history before they became a college professor. You’re not kissing anyone’s ass by looking for a few words of wisdom. Professors can offer valuable life and professional advice that you simply might not be able to find on Google.
If your English professor casually mentioned that he or she is a published author on the first day of class and becoming a published author has been your dream since middle school, you can benefit greatly from picking your professor’s brain about publishing.
Plus, building such a relationship with your professor is great if you ever need a reference or letter of recommendation in the near future. Networking starts the minute you enter college, not when you leave it.
2. Surf for a Cause
You’re never too young or too old to have an internship. You’ve probably heard stories about people who got an internship in a particular field by simply believing in themselves, no related experience involved. Well, if this isn’t super motivational, I don’t know what is. Don’t count yourself out just because of your age or because you’re scared of trying something new.
If you’re looking for a summer internship, start browsing the internet as early as February. Some deadlines are really early, and you wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity! Really, any way that you can invest in your future is productive.
If you hope to become a video editor at your favorite media platform, grab your camera and start shooting and editing some fun YouTube videos. If you want to go to Vet school, be on the lookout for local animal shelters that wouldn’t mind an extra set of hands.
3. Read a Book
Why not, right? Reading two-thousand-page chemistry textbooks isn’t fun, but I promise that reading recreationally is nothing of the sort. Reading is a great way to calm your mind and stay focused. Travel to another world and step into someone else’s shoes, even if it’s just for an hour.
Plus, the next time someone asks you for the title of the last book you read, you won’t have to sheepishly smile and give them the name of a book you read for your high school English class.
4. Practice Makes Perfect
How many times have you heard a classmate say, “I used to (insert cool hobby here) back when I was in high school. I stopped since coming to college, and I miss it.” Don’t be that person. And if you are that person, stop.
Everyone has one thing they used to do every single day in high school, but they completely dropped it once they started college. Use your free time to pick back up whatever skills you put down years ago.
If you’ve got an hour to spare after lunch, use it to brush up on your photography skills, or hit up your school’s practice room and play your all-time favorite musical composition on the piano.
5. Get a Head Start
You just knew this one was going to be on here. One of the most productive things you can do is to prepare for the week, or weeks, ahead of you. Outline your notes, make flashcards or read a chapter in your textbook.
Anything helps, so don’t wait for the absolute last minute to begin preparations for an exam. Doing as much work as you can early on can help you better distinguish between what you do know and what you’ll need to pay more attention to going forward. This way, you have ample time to get your shit together, so you can crush that test.
6. Work Out!
If all else fails, it’s probably a sign that you just need to relax your brain and get lost in some music while you run, or walk briskly, on the treadmill. Exercising at the gym isn’t just about physical fitness; it’s also about taking care of yourself mentally. Exercising is a healthy way of staying awake and alert. Basically, it’s a good substitute for the three cups of coffee you were planning to drink.
Sometimes you just need an hour or two to focus on something completely unrelated to school and social life. You need some time to think about you. It’s probably one of the healthiest productive things you can do. Pack your sneakers and workout clothes into a bag and bring it with you to class, and if you don’t like carrying around extra weight, wear your workout clothes.