August used to mean the return to college for me. I had a courseload of 4 classes on average, and I always had to have an extracurricular commitment, too. While I’m still growing, college was a time where I learned more about how to mange my energy in order to get things done so I could take steps towards the future I wanted. When you're an Autistic college student, learning to manage your energy is essential!
Even though I’m not in college anymore (thank goodness), there are some time management tips that I still find to be applicable for my life today. If you’re looking for ways to conserve your energy for things that matter to you, here are some of my tips and tricks for you!
(And if you're ready to put these strategies to good use, working with an autism life coach can help you stay on track toward achieving your goals! Contact us to get started!)
Don’t waste “ten bucks”
Our on-campus counseling services would hand out free swag and trinkets at campus events. One time, I got a bookmark from them with “Stress-Buster Strategies.” The one I found most insightful was, “Don’t waste $10 worth of energy on a $2 problem.” This is really tough for me as someone who wants to commit fully to everything I do. Yet, when managing the demands of various classes, I found I was able to apply this advice from time to time.
Let’s say there is a class that is offering some extra credit activities. Normally, students jump on the chance for extra credit! One of the extra credit opportunities was to watch a documentary and then to write a one paragraph reflection on it. Can you guess how many points students would get for completing this hour and a half long task? One point. One point only.
I realized that for me, it was more opportune for me to just use that extra hour to study the material to prep for the test than to waste it watching a documentary I was not really invested in. I decided to pass over this $2 problem because it was way more trouble than it was worth.
Perfectionism is overrated
I know, I know, I just did an entire blog post about perfectionism. But it bears repeating. We have to pick and choose what we want to make really good, and what we want to just get done. The competing priorities of college coursework definitely made me pick and choose what I wanted to spend my late-night study sessions doing.
Let’s say I have to answer some short answer questions and write an essay before class tomorrow. If I know the essay is higher stakes, then I want to make sure I put my attention towards that rather than getting hung up on the short answer questions. However, I will personally do the short answer questions first in order to get to the task I can get more hung up on. While some of us may no longer be copy/pasting a works-cited, the principle is still the same. If you have perfectionist tendencies, try to make sure you are putting more of your efforts towards tasks that are very important or that matter to you.
Don’t ruminate too much
I was fortunate enough to travel to a few academic conferences during my time in college. With these academic presentations usually came some kind of… social mixer (dun dun duuun!).
Let's imagine you're at just such an event. Maybe you have a drink and decide to try out material for your standup comedy routine. When you’re in a conversation with other students and professors, you make a poorly timed joke. Everyone stares at you, before moving onto discussing the latest scientific breakthrough.
If you’re anything like me, you will probably magnify this error in your mind and replay it over and over. Please do not torture yourself like that! If you find yourself ruminating on a social faux pas, it is okay to come up with two or three ways you may want to approach the situation differently next time.
If your brain is still occupied by the interaction, then think of other things that you enjoyed about the event or other people you met there. Start to have your mind move on. Chances are, they’ll be so tired when the conference is done, they’ll forget all about it. (Also, please remember, even neurotypicals can make jokes that don’t land from time to time.)
Finding a rhythm
I hope that by trying out different time saving techniques, you can find a rhythm in your life that leaves you feeling more energized than drained. If you need more ways to conserve your energy, one of our autism life coaches can work with you to find solutions tailored to your specific needs. Learn more about our coaching process or start getting signed up by sending us a message today!