I’m failing do to everything I want, and I feel like I’m stuttering under the pressure of graduate school. Honestly, I’m struggling.

The day begins with a habitual breakfast meal: eggs and turkey bacon. My coffee brews as the stove top sizzles. The breakfast meal is important for my long days, and I cook a hearty one. But everything takes time, and these days, I’m running out of this precious resource.

As a graduate student, my semesters are demanding. My weeks have a consistent 45 or more hours scheduled between school, work 1, and work 2 – not to mention volunteering, research opportunities, and many necessary extracurriculars. Time management is key, but there’s a fundamental flaw – everything cannot be completed.

But maybe there are tools from the frugal life? For me, living frugally is the voice to cut back on the unnecessary and enjoy the meaningful. Reducing discretionary spending and focusing on what’s most important has great ramifications for time, as well. This article is a combination of reflection and advice for dealing with the conundrum of time management snafus and demands.

Sleep And Mr. Rigor Mortis

Honestly, there are limited hours each day. Even though there are 168 hours in a week, there’s only so much the human body can handle. Many of those hours will be redirected to sleep. This is a basic necessity. This is not an area to sacrifice or “cut back” on.

Reducing sleep is not frugal, it’s dangerous. Sleep is helpful in maintaining normal anxiety and depression. Sleep can energize and leave you feeling refreshed. Sleep helps memory processing, and leads to better encoding.

As the difficult days of graduate school continue, it can be challenging to get enough sleep. Sometimes it feels like I’m shaving years off my life in the process. The reality is that busyness cannot replace your need for sleep. If you’re chronically not sleeping well or enough, something’s got to give.

Time Management Equals Money

We already know the overused maxim that time equals money. It does, but it’s not an accurate measure. Time management and effective use is the key to money. Even though many people work 8-hour days, they often work in short, efficient bursts.

By maximizing those bursts, I can use my time more wisely and condense serious amounts of work into short periods. From there, I either take a short break or switch topics to challenge my brain and keep me thinking critically.

Find Your Focus, Forget The Rest

To become frugal with your time – maximizing the important and reducing the clutter – it’s important to learn to say, “No.” This simple word is often the first out of a toddler’s mouth. It’s time to incorporate it back into your regular repertoire.

No, I can’t commit to another extracurricular.

No, I can’t signup for that project.

No, I won’t be able to meet that deadline.

It’s empowering to say, “no.”

Suddenly, my schedule is busy and full, but I can manage it when I start to say that simple word. You should try it sometime.