Heading into grad school I will have very little time of my own, so I have been pondering ways to make the most of the time I have. In undergrad I was pretty efficient with my time, but there is always room for improvement. I have been out of the academic sphere for two and a bit years, so getting back in the groove may take some practice.
These are the tips I have used and found to help me dominate my work load and still have time to workout and have a healthful dinner (that I cooked):
1. Get a planner
Have a decent sized planner that has monthly and weekly views with enough room to write in assignments and appointments. These can run the spectrum of style and price. Find one that you like and will use. It's no help if you won't use it.
Don't forget to schedule some "Me" time into your calendar day. It may seem counter intuitive to take time out of your day to "relax", but we are not the Energizer Bunny. Scheduling your down time gives you something to look forward to and keeps you on task while you're working.
2. Color code
I have a color for different classes, jobs, etc. This color coding spans all my devices and the aforementioned planner. Carrying over the color coding helps keep your times organized and happy!
Bonus: I pick my favorite colors for my favorite things. (ie: I love history, so my history classes are usually in the blue and teal family) But, you could also color code by how you need to feel about a topic (ie: need to stay awake during English Lit? Make all your stuff red or bright pink.
3. Schedule in breaks
There were many times in undergrad when I would sit down to an assignment and find myself getting sluggish towards the end of it. Schedule in quick five minute breaks to walk around, clear your brain, and grab a snack. Boggy brains = boggy renderings/designs!
4. Remember "NO" can and should be in your vocabulary
You can't usually say "NO" to assignments, but you can say "NO" to a late week night Buffy marathon. Your body will thank you. Besides, Buffy will be their waiting with her vampire whooping self to reward you after you ace that design presentation.
"NO" can also be said to people who ask for you to add and add to your workload. I know you may really want to do that pro bono design for your old high school, but take a minute to look at that color coded calendar. Does it look like a rainbow, maybe passing this time is a better idea for you and your school. Tell them, "Thank you for thinking of me, but I would not give you the design I know I am capable of or that you deserve. I'd love to possibly design for you in the future, but right now is not a good time for me." Everyone is still friends!
There are many apps and sites that also have tips and tricks to keep you organized and ahead of the clock. I've read that there's even a site you can access that will block your Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, or other time stealer for a set time so you can GET STUFF DONE! I've never tried it, but things like that exist for us. Take advantage of the technologic advances to help you.