By Robin W.
Many people say that the key and the killer of a R.A. are time. Whether you manage your time well or not will determine whether you sink or swim. Many of the resident assistants from my old building, before I applied to the position, had quit the job because either it was too time consuming or they had no time at all.
As to time management, for new and old staff I would advise a couple of things:
Time management is the key to everything. If you effectively organize things in your life, from residents to your classes, you'll find that you have the time necessary to complete the important things in a day.
Starting with tip number one, if you plan out the months ahead, you can try to limit things to give time enough for certain situations. If you realize that you have to work on Saturday, but you have a study group earlier in the day, you can plan out how long the study groups will be and what time you have to leave for work.
With tip number two, if you realize that you have to spend more time than you allowed yourself on a task, try to modify your schedule and do the other things that you scheduled for yourself in a shorter amount of time.
The next one is the one that is most neglected. Giving yourself a free day off is the most important thing you can do. This will allow you to think of yourself for a change after hectic times in classes and dealing with residents. The time you give yourself will allow you to figure out what you have accomplished and have a time to relax. Some resident assistants go on and on with the semester without ever realizing that by the end of the semester when finals come around, they feel so overly stressed about things that they don't even know what they are stressed about.
Visiting your residents periodically will show that you care about them. In times when you need them, they will give you options or give you some help in things that you have questions about. During my first year as a R.A., I needed help with understanding a problem in one of my academic classes. I went down the hall and spoke to "Melissa" as I remembered during move-in that she is a math major. She helped me throughout the semester and I received a higher grade on my math exams.
This last one is the one that may be most challenging. Usually at the end of the semester during finals, students in general start to panic. Grades that are bad, relationships on the rocks or family problems that arise tend to set students in a panic. They do not know what to do. Some of the results can be negative and positive. I sometimes feel that I am panicking, but what I do is first, calm down. Then I try to relax and breathe normally. Finally, I look at things very optimistically in different situations. The more positive influence you have on the final outcome on things, the better it will be.