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Time Management Tips with Clarke Alum and University Student Austin

4 min read
Austin Henry
College student and Clarke alum Austin is on track to graduate early. His time management skills have been essential to his success.

Clarke alum Austin is a freshman in college studying English with a minor in education. Austin, who received Clarke’s Mainstream Services from kindergarten through high school, wears hearing aids for a moderate-to-severe hearing loss that was identified when he was two months old.

Ambitious and financially savvy, Austin is on track to graduate early, and he is doing so with the help of his excellent time management skills. He shares his recommendations for staying organized, as well as some advice for other students who are deaf or hard of hearing at the collegiate level.

Create a Calendar (and Use It)

Maintaining a calendar—and checking it daily—is essential to being aware of what’s expected of you in the days, weeks and months ahead.

You’re less likely to be surprised by a project deadline and a family gathering on the same day, for example, if they’re both written down on a calendar you’re checking regularly. And seeing that there’s a busy week coming up allows you time to start the project sooner than you might have and double-check that you’ll have an ironed shirt to wear to your family celebration.

“My calendar is crucial to everything I do!” says Austin. “It’s how I get through my day-to-day. For example, I have a calendar on my phone that has everything I need to do—including this interview, what I’m doing after this interview and so on. And just having that general outline allows me to be very productive.”

Build in Time to “Screw Up”

Austin recognizes that there is unpredictability that arises each day, and he tries to make space for that.

“Having time to screw up is really important,” he says. “This is especially true when you have hearing aids. You never know when something can go wrong, and when it does, you need time to troubleshoot it.

“Just today one of my hearing aids had a little moisture in it,” he shares, “and I had to troubleshoot that before my class. And because I was up early enough, I had plenty of time to make sure [the] hearing aid was working. Now, if I had woken up 20 minutes before class, that small issue could have been a very big issue.”

Identify and Manage Common Distractions

Many of us can relate to spending more time than we’d like scrolling on our phones. Austin is no exception.

“My biggest distraction is my phone,” he says. “But setting up app timers has changed my life. Every day I have 10 minutes on Instagram and 15 minutes on Snapchat. This was tough initially, because you feel a sense of disconnection, but you get used to it. And you can still be part of that community without overindulging in it.”

Self-awareness around what is most distracting is helpful as well. For example, Austin says, “I never [downloaded] TikTok, because I knew it would send me scrolling and scrolling and scrolling!”

Find a Routine That Feels Successful

During the pandemic, Austin realized he was going to bed most nights around midnight. He wanted to try something different.

“I started going to bed at 10 and then waking up two hours earlier,” he recalls. And the routine stuck. “So now I have two hours in the morning to get stuff done before I go to class. Whether that’s getting in a gym session, studying or preparing myself for the day, that extra time makes me feel more ready for what’s ahead.”

Austin makes time for the hobbies he loves, including cooking, photography and modeling.

Waking up two hours earlier would certainly be a big adjustment for most teens and college students, but small tweaks to one’s routine can often make a significant impact. It may be waking up just 10 minutes earlier, setting aside time for deep breathing or choosing the next day’s clothes before going to sleep. As long as it benefits your “future self,” it will make a difference.  

“There are many benefits to having hearing loss and there are many challenges. And that is the same for almost everything in life. The more you treat it like an issue the more it is an issue. The more you treat it like an advantage the more it is an advantage.”

Cultivate Resilience

According to the American Psychological Association, resilience is “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.”

And—here’s the good news—it can be developed. Find tips here for building resilience.

“Learn to have a bad day,” Austin says. “It’s okay to have a bad day.”

Take Time Off!

Without space for fun, hobbies and relaxation, the best laid plans will turn into drudgery. Austin makes time for the activities he loves, like listening to music, exercising, taking photos, modeling, thrifting and cooking.

And when he feels like relaxing with his phone, he’ll do some exercises on Duolingo, which feels both enriching and enjoyable.

Manage Self-Perception

“My advice is to understand that your hearing loss is not a crutch,” Austin says to other students who are deaf or hard of hearing. “It is a tool and just like any other tool there are drawbacks to it. There are many benefits to having hearing loss and there are many challenges. And that is the same for almost everything in life. The more you treat it like an issue the more it is an issue. The more you treat it like an advantage the more it is an advantage.”

Looking ahead, Austin hopes to be an English teacher and considers himself a lifelong learner.

“I come from an environment of learners and teachers,” he says. “I’ve always known that whatever I do, I want to make an impact on someone’s life… I like learning, and I think any learner should be a teacher, because the more you teach, the more you learn. And that’s something I’m passionate about.”

How are you spending your time? What’s left for studying?

Try these time management calculators from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

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