With only about a week or two left in the semester before finals begin, I’m sure students in all departments and years have a lot on their plates. I know I do; as a senior attempting to get a little extra experience before getting thrown out into the real world, I’ve got an internship and this job with the George-Anne to keep track of alongside my normal schoolwork, which feels like it’s becoming a bigger and bigger pile by the second. Factor that on top of keeping up with the family a modest social life, it can definitely seem sometimes like the camel’s back is one wrong straw away from breaking.
I definitely don’t think I’m alone in this, either; these parts of the semesters are always going to end up pretty rough. Final exams, final projects, plus your typical run of schoolwork–plus anything else I’m not factoring in that might be part of your schedule–it definitely seems like a lot, and maybe too much at times. As someone who’s definitely been in your shoes, let me give you some advice.
First, plan things out ahead of time, as far back as you need to. If you’ve got a project due at the end of the week, plan out when you’re going to work on it, what you’re going to do in each step, and even some backup plans if things don’t go as you expect them to. Even if you don’t 100% stick to it, having something definite that you can follow will at least set you on the right track and give you some comfort that you know what you’re doing. When I’ve got a big thing I need to work on, I always take time to think about everything I’m going to need to do from now until it’s completed, as well as anything extra that might take up time. I’m not always completely accurate, but having the plan set beforehand helps keep me on track and gives me some peace of mind.
It’s also important to remember to pace yourself. Doing everything at once is going to stress you out like crazy, and waiting until the last minute is only going to make it worse. This is a bit in line with the last thing I talked about; as you plan, think about what you can do to work on and contribute to the big assignment, and when you can do those tasks. Even if you don’t have a plan in motion, working on something a little at a time day by day might take longer, but it’ll be less wear on your well-being. What you contribute each day doesn’t have to be anything super big, either; just making a little edit or doing something small is still contributing, is still a step towards completion.
Lastly–and this is something I kind of had to learn myself–it is 100% okay to take breaks if you need it. This might be the end of the stage for some of you and the final boss for others, but that doesn’t mean you should skip on saving. It might seem counterproductive, especially at this juncture, to waste time that could be spent working on all the assignments doing nothing or something less school-related, but you absolutely need that downtime. Firing on all cylinders nonstop is not good for you. All that stress you’re accumulating from working hard won’t have an outlet, which will only make it build up even more, making the pile of work you have to do look even bigger, which will only cause you more stress, and…well, you see where I’m going with this.
You need and deserve chances to kick back and recharge your batteries. That includes non-school related things; no one’s going to hold it against you if you take a little me-time. And if things are piling up and you’ve got too much on your plate, it’s okay to ask your professor if you can have just a smidge of extra time to take things at a more comfortable pace; let them know what’s going on and they’ll most likely work with you. They’re there to teach and educate you, not overwork you. So, after a long day of school or work, if you think you need a little time to yourself to clear your head, take it! Obviously you’re still eventually going to need to actually do your work, but that doesn’t mean you can’t break up the endless slog with some breaks if and when you need them.
Of course, I’ve skipped on the most important advice on them all, though it does tie in a bit with this last one: get some sleep! Staying up crazy late to finish an assignment isn’t going to do you any favors, even if it’s due the next day. Sleep keeps your mind sharp and alert, so you’ll be able to handle whatever you have to do even better when you’re well-rested. Plus, take it from me, you generally just feel better when you aren’t tired. Whether that means going to bed earlier on weekdays or getting up later on the weekends, make sure you’re getting plenty of shut-eye.
I probably haven’t covered every word of advice I could have given, but these are at least the ones that have helped me the most; hopefully they can give you some help as well. At the end of the day, even if it seems like you’ve got a ways to go, the end is in sight, and you can definitely reach it. All you have to do now is push through–and of course, remember all of this as well.