What to Do When You're Behind on Everything

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It may be Week Four back on the Domain, but it’s never too late to already be behind on everything: readings, essays, summer internship applications, and, most importantly, sleep. Perhaps that’s you now, or maybe you know this upcoming week will be your downfall. Luckily, there is time to catch up. What’s the best way to actually get your work done and have time for sleep?

  1. Go ahead and get the panic out.

Scream, cry, eat some spaghetti, do what you need to. Don’t underestimate this step; it’s crucial that you get this out of your system so that nothing is clouding your mind as you move into the productive stage of the night. Also, if you need an extension, email your professor sooner rather than later. They are surprisingly understanding when it comes to these things, and no harm comes from asking, especially if early enough. .

  1. Make a list of EVERYTHING that must be done and prioritize.

Make sure everything is written down, from actual work to taking a shower. This can also include things overdue, especially if your professors accept late work. What you’re going to do is essentially triage. Do what can be saved first and then move forward. My recommendation is to divide the tasks into “Overdue,” “Due Tomorrow,” and “Due Later” and then subdivide into how long it will take to accomplish (10 minutes, an hour, and longer).

In my experience of being constantly behind on everything, I’ve found the best schedule to be this order: Overdue/5 minutes, Due Tomorrow/5 minutes, Due Tomorrow/an Hour, Due Tomorrow/Takes longer, and then whatever you wish for the next few. Depending on how long the longer assignment due tomorrow takes, it may need to be sacrificed for sleep, especially if it’s just not important. If it is a major essay, just do that one first. Of course, necessity also comes into account, so if you have politics readings and a 5 page essay on Shakespeare due at the same time, maybe just pass on the readings.

3. Work efficiently.

Now it’s time to get to work! Personally, I use the pomodoro method, so I work for 45 completely undistracted and then take 15-20 minutes to break. I usually use the break to either relax or knock something easy off my to-do list, like showers or running to Clurg.

4.  Remember to get the essentials!

Food, water, sleep, and other basic needs are completely necessary, and if you need to pull an all-nighter, food becomes even more important to keep your energy high. You can’t make it off of bottle after bottle of 5 hour energy.

5. Know when to cut your losses.

Sometimes, there’s just not enough time, and that’s okay. Just let it go, and repeat this process the following day and don’t burn out yet. It’s too early in the semester for that crisis. Finally, remember the words of Tom Haverford: 

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