My tips for coping with a heavier course load

When I was signing up for University courses for the first time in August, a friend of mine gave me some important advice: “Whatever you do, don’t take 6 heavy classes in one semester.” So what did I do? Must I even say it?

I figured if I allowed myself a lighter schedule come first semester, I could ease myself back into the school mind set after having taken a year off- and this plan did seem like a good idea while I was doing well in all four of my classes in the fall.

However, add an extra two lectures and tutorials, and the panic begins to set in as I’m spending 5 hours downtown and getting home to another 5 hours of homework.

I realized that if I was going to keep up my grades, I’d have to make some adjustments. If you’ve found yourself in the same situation as me, or are just struggling with your course load in general, then read below for some of the things I’ve found have been helping me adjust to a large amount of work.

 

Keep a detailed homework schedule: I started doing this in the fall and rely even more heavily on it now. When making my schedule, I open all of my syllabuses on Friday and make a list of all the tasks that have to be completed by the following Friday in order of most to least urgent.

I then assign a portion of them to each day of the week, making sure that my goals are realistic. I calculate how long each task will take- often with a “minimum” and “maximum” amount of time- because I know how easily I get distracted. I also usually only do about four days in advance because I know I’ll get new homework throughout the week to be added. I find that this has helped my mentality toward homework as well, because when I just promise myself I’ll complete an entire assignment in one night without breaking down the time span and goals I usually disappoint myself and add to my panic when I don’t complete it.

 

A list of homework tasks to be completed, assigned to each day and calculated by the hour
Here’s what my schedule looks like, with minimum and maximum hours of homework. I realized I’ve been overambitious with how fast I work and I’ll have to make some adjustments next time!

Mix it up: When creating my planner, I make sure as well to have a variety of different homework tasks at smaller time slots, because otherwise I would get bored of doing the same thing for an entire evening and give up/ feel frustrated- unless of course the assignment is incredibly urgent and not even slightly completed…in that case, definitely I’ll focus the majority of my time on it.

 

Validate your own efforts: As you’ve probably heard countless times, it is vital that you look after your mental health. Stress can really ruin my momentum with completing tasks, causing me to go through an entire reading without taking any of it in.

 

image of kylie Jenner sobbing captioned "me panicking over due dates and then panicking over lack of time and then panicking because I'm panicking"
Poor Kylie Jenner- poor me, poor us!

 

I make sure to, when I’ve completed a significant amount of homework, reward myself in some way by taking a break to watch an episode of Netflix, have a snack, or stare out my window and listen to one of my favourite songs for a moment. Even short breathers serve to clear my head and increase my focus when returning to the task at hand.

 

I hope these tips help you, and if you have any for me- leave a comment!

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