Welcome to Ask The Argus, a biannual advice column made available to you in the Features section! For our first edition of the year we have‘rWe share our tips for a good start to the semester.
I’m a first year student and I have no idea how everyone has time for everything they do. I’m exhausted and Drop/Add just finished. How do I keep up, but not completely overwhelmed?
We here at the Argus know as well as anyone else that the beginning of the semester can be particularly stressful. After a long hiatus from academic and extracurricular commitments, re-immersing yourself in constant classes, homework, and various meetings can quickly overwhelm any student, especially someone who may be involved in multiple clubs or who works part-time in addition to their academic load. It’s all too easy to fall behind on work early in the semester and spend the rest of the semester catching up, which can lead to undue stress, frustration, and eventually burnout as senior week approaches. That’s why at The Argus we took the time to discuss and compile some of the strategies that have been most helpful for us to manage our time and stay on top of our work while prioritizing our physical and mental health grant.
To have a plan.
It seems self-explanatory, but so many of us tend to throw ourselves into our work without planning or setting aside time for it in advance. Often we have more tasks than we remember at the moment, our tasks may be longer than we expect, and we may not think about how much energy we will have to study at any given time. But the first step to beating burnout is planning your study time in a way that feels more manageable and fits into your already busy schedule, five majors, three minors and all.
Get rid of all distractions.
let’s be honest We’ve all seen a 30-minute task turn into a five-hour saga when our phone rings every five minutes. Yes, aimlessly scrolling on TikTok or updating our friends on last weekend’s debacles might be far more interesting than a physics textbook, but the pain of learning can be greatly alleviated (or at least shortened) if you all Get rid of surrounding distractions. Turn off your phone and put it away, clear your desk of more interesting reading, and settle into a place that doesn’t tempt you to do anything other than study. You can even keep your phone busy by recording aesthetically pleasing time-lapse videos of yourself at work. While romanticizing the grind might not be an ideal path, it can make the most mundane of tasks feel a little more exciting in the moment.
Break up large tasks and projects into smaller ones.
Tackling lengthy presentations or assignments at once can be overwhelming, especially if the project accounts for a significant portion of your grade for a class. On the problem of “romanticizing the grind”… staying up all night for a big assignment surrounded by candy and energy drinks is less exciting than it sounds. And it sounds terrible.
Even if you start early, it can often feel like you’re starting from scratch every time you tackle a major project again. So before you jump right into it, take some time to think about all the steps you need to take to complete the task and make each task as specific as possible. These can include research, organizing information, writing, proofreading, editing, and more. By breaking down the project this way, you can turn your monstrous midterm exam into a few simple assignments. It may no longer be a pain to romance, but you will realize that it is for the best.
Make full use of the tools at your disposal.
The university has given us access to dozens of virtual resources that you can integrate into your organizational system. There are also many free, open-source tools that can be found via a quick Google search. From Microsoft Office 365 to free platforms like Notion, you’ll find a combination of platforms and tools to help you stay on top of your commitments and tasks. One of the easiest and most helpful tools for managing your time, and one of our favorites on the features team, is Google Calendar. It provides a convenient way to keep track of all your classes, extracurricular activities, and work shifts in one place, and allows you to color-code activities and customize the platform to suit your needs. You can add reminders for when all your important exams, work, and projects are due so you know which weeks will be your busiest and adjust your other social and academic commitments accordingly.
Keep track of your energy to study.
In theory, we might have plenty of time and space to study during our weeks. However, we often do not consider our energy levels and ability to retain information in our study plans. Although we might have 8-11pm off on a day, after three classes and two clubs, most people don’t have the energy to stay up three hours that day and study. As you plan your time to study, be mindful of when you will have the energy to work. Scheduling time is important, but scheduling the wrong time to focus on schoolwork can lead to unnecessarily long study sessions, frustration, difficulty learning the material, and rapid burnout. We’re all human, and no matter how hardworking you may be, you probably only have a limited amount of energy to devote to academics each day. Stay on top of things and stay safe and healthy with your self-directed workload.
Plan time for self-sufficiency in good time.
Remember that you are a person first and a student second. Most students are involved in many activities outside of their schoolwork, and everyone can feel that this is of the utmost importance. However, none of us is able to do our best if we don’t take care of ourselves. Make sure your schedule leaves enough time to engage in activities that will help you relax and think about the rest of the week.
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Sulan Bailey can be reached at [email protected]
Akhil Joondeph can be reached at [email protected]