Last year, I got used to luxuriously paced full-year courses where the first assignments weren’t due until 4 months into the school year. This September, I got the syllabus for my first semester-long course and became overwhelmed. I had assignments due two weeks into class and I thought I couldn’t manage. I began asking people in my life what they did to stay on top of school work, and their advice really changed the way I study and view school.
- Organize your time – Every successful person that I know insisted that I organize my time using a calendar or timetable. I personally don’t work well on a strict, hourly schedule. Instead, I do my readings for a class a week ahead, right after the lecture. I work on future assignments the same day I do the class readings. Staying one step ahead works best for me.
- Write things down – I keep a record of everything that I need to do, listed by weight (percentage of my total grade) and due date. That way, when I feel like I’m twiddling my thumbs, a quick glance at my list brings me back up to speed.
- Make time for other things – If I don’t make time for myself, my friends, and my extracurriculars, I become frustrated with school and waste time. I do best in school when I have a few other things on my plate; If I have nothing to do except study, I begin to think that I have all the time in the world to get assignments done. Find time between classes and on weekends to see friends, participate in clubs, or just stare at the ceiling for a bit.
- Exercise – I hate exercising, especially at the gym. Since September, I’ve tried to wake up early and go running at least 3 times a week. I’m someone that has never worked out before in my life, and I promise you, physical activity really does keep your mind alert and put you in a better mood.
- Turn off your phone and log out of social networks – This one seems obvious. I’m including it here for those of you that are like me and are logged on 24/7. To fight the need to check my networks every five minutes when I’m doing research, I make sure to open all of my online sources on PDF readers so that I don’t have to rely on my web browser.
- Don’t psyche yourself out! – When I’m swamped with readings and behind on assignments, I begin to believe that I’m not good enough. I convince myself that I have to spend 100 per cent of my time studying to ensure my success. A friend of mine sat down with me and snapped it all out of me recently. This is what she told me: “Don’t psych yourself out! It’s not like they picked you at random and popped you in a class; you’re here because you deserve to be here, and have worked hard to get where you are.” Smart girl. Maybe you should take her advice.