Big Man On Campus: Time Management

Time management is essential to academic and athletic success. Budget your time to build more muscle. Use these tips to balance school, fitness, and fun.

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Time management is essential to any student's success. You have to balance academics, fitness, fun, and potentially work or athletics. Building muscle takes even more of your time. You have to prepare your meals, train, eat, and set aside time for recovery. I'll help you organize, prioritize, and get the most from your available time.

Big Man on Campus Time Management
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Whether you're a freshman or a senior, you need to prioritize your interests and activities to effectively manage your time. Your top priorities should be school and health. If you're unhealthy—not eating well, not sleeping enough, frequently sick, inactive, constantly stressed—you typically have less energy, miss class more often, and may not be as mentally engaged. Study quality improves when you exercise daily, so academics and fitness go at the top of your list.

Big Man, Great Plan

Once you've established your top priorities, you can begin planning. Get a lay of the land: Walk around campus, time how long it takes to get places, learn where your courses are, where the gym is, where other places to work out are, where you'll be eating, and how long dinner takes. Do some reconnaissance. Get a sense of where you'll be spending most of your time so you can maximize your time.

Plan your workouts around your classes. Schedule some extra time for meal prep, socializing, and studying. If you need to train in the morning and study in the evening, set those times in stone. These things seem basic, but they can be tough as a freshman. Remember: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Structure your college life for success.

Meal Preparation

Sunday is a great time to relax, recharge for the upcoming week, and cook your meals. Of course, you don't have to spend Sunday cooking alone. If it's a nice day outside, have a barbecue with your friends, throw the football around, socialize, and get your chicken and vegetables on the grill for the week.

Use common area cooking spots. Invite a few friends and their girlfriends, or girls from class, to cook dinner together. You can easily finish your weekly food at the same time.

I highly recommend the George Foreman grill: It's fast, easy, and almost dummy-proof. You don't have a flame, so you won't drunkenly burn your dorm down. All you have to do is watch George work his magic. When the food looks done, take it off. It's an easy way to cook large batches of nutritious food.

I cooked all my veggies in steam bags, and even my fish. I don't like stinking my house up (neither will your roommates), so I just put everything in a bag and microwaved it.

Time to Train

Make lifting weights a priority. If you prioritize working out over watching TV, Facebook, and playing video games, I guarantee you'll find time to train. You can easily get a solid lifting session in 45 minutes, so peel yourself away from the computer and hit the gym. Even if you're buried in books, a 45-minute workout break can help you feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to hit the material harder.

Whenever you're pressed for time, maximize your workout efficiency. Use supersets, take less rest, or even use active rest for cardio. Instead of scheduling a dedicated cardio session outside your lifting routine, do plyometrics between sets. It makes your workout difficult, but you will get the most from your time in the gym.

Split up your training sessions. If you don't have a full free hour, split your workout into two 30-minute sessions. Hit one body part in the morning and another in the evening. You might have to get creative, but I guarantee there are ways to fit in your training. Walk on the treadmill while reading. It's a great way to double down.

Work It

For many students, work is as important as school. Juggling school, fitness, and a steady job might seem impossible, but it can definitely be done. Great college jobs include paid internships, waiting tables at night, maintenance, or working a campus job. I refereed intramural basketball games and got credit for it. I was working, getting credit, and doing cardio. I had fun and got to socialize with my friends who were playing. It was great!

By keeping yourself busy with work, training, and school, you'll make the most of your time, all the time. As long as you stay focused and keep yourself organized, you won't get overwhelmed.

A busy schedule can also be a blessing in disguise. With too much downtime, it gets easier and easier to procrastinate. By keeping yourself busy with work, training, and school, you'll make the most of your time, all the time. As long as you stay focused and keep yourself organized, you won't get overwhelmed.

Write everything down. I don't care if you go old-school or use your iPad calendar; if scheduling is easy and you enjoy it, you'll stick to it. I had a gym planner that doubled as a diary. I recorded how much I lifted, what I ate, my goals for the week, and areas I wanted to improve. I'd review it every Sunday night and create simple, weekly plans. This tactic helped me study, work, and work out.


Stress isn't always a bad thing. Stress is like going to the gym and training your muscles. Stress keeps you from getting comfortable. It helps you stay focused and hit your goals. You're in college; you're going to be a little stressed. Dealing with stress is another piece of the college puzzle. Remember that working out is one of your most powerful stress-relief tools.

Be flexible and don't add stress to your schedule. If something comes up that you have no control over, like a last-minute assignment, an emergency meeting, or sudden social function, then make the best of it. You can only do so much. Don't stress about things you can't control.

When it seems like you have too much to do or scheduled too many activities, look at each item and ask yourself: "Will this matter in a week? A month?" If you recognize something that won't matter long-term, then forget about it. Don't let it bother you or hinder your performance.

When you're over-booked, manage your time by letting go of unimportant details. By weighing the long-term importance of your activities, you'll gain some helpful perspective. With the proper perspective, you can clear certain things from your plate and protect yourself from self-created stress.

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