Dear stressed-out college student,
Ah, it’s that time of year when the tough part of the semester begins to kick in. Goodbye to the syllabus days and light homework days. You’ve got assignment after assignment, project after project, and paper after paper. Sometimes, finding a place to start and ultimately finish everything you need to do is a struggle. As a college student, this is something that I struggle with on the daily. Sometimes I have so much to do that I can’t find a place to start. So, how do you get all your tasks done in a timely and feasible manner?
For starters, it’s vital to create a to-do list for each day. A to-do list will help you keep track of everything you need to accomplish in a given day. When we have so many tasks to do, it’s easy to get distracted and work on tasks that can be attended to on another day.
On that note, it’s important to prioritize the tasks in your to-do list. On top of keeping track of what you need to do, it’s important to rank the priorities of the tasks you need to complete. It can be very helpful to prioritize your tasks in descending order from the most important task to the least important task. Ordering your tasks will help you keep track of what needs to be done now to what can potentially wait if need be.
In addition to keeping track of what tasks you need to do and when they need to be done, you should also be taking into consideration your productivity level. For example you may be more productive some days over others. It’s always important to keep a list of extra tasks you can complete on those more productive days. Luckily, there will be those times where you’ve finished everything on your to-do list and have just a little bit more energy in your gas tank to work on a few more things. In this case, it’s advantageous to take the opportunity to finish some assignments ahead of time. So, after you finish your to-do list, consider keeping a rundown of 2-3 extra assignments that you could work on with your extra energy and time.
While a to-do list will help you stay on track, it shouldn’t be the only strategy you rely on for getting everything done. You should always be looking ahead and knowing what assignments are coming up. Your foresight will provide you with guidance on how to prioritize your tasks and organize your days in order to accommodate your current and upcoming assignments. For example, if you know you have a huge paper coming up in one of your classes, it would likely be a good idea to plan on working ahead in another class in order to accommodate working on that lengthy paper. A to-do list is only as good as your ability to keep up with the assignments you know are coming up. Make sure you’re continually checking your canvas dashboard and syllabi to stay informed about all the assignments ahead of you.
While it’s nice to get a lot of things done, it’s also important to consider the quality of your work. When you have so many things to do, it’s easy to let the quality of all that work slip through the cracks. Of course, you can’t put 120% into every single assignment, but you can ensure you hold yourself to a sufficient standard with all the work you turn in.
The best strategy I’ve found for upholding the quality of my work is breaking things up into chunks. When I’ve been working on something for a long time, it’s easy to let my fatigue get in the way of my quality of work. Sometimes you need to take a break and work on something else. Personally, when I have a long textbook chapter to read through or a lengthy research paper to work on, I’ll break these tasks up and continually work on each task in bits and chunks. Say, for example, I have a week to work on a textbook reading, I’ll set a goal for myself to read a certain number or pages a day in that given week. The same goes for my paper. This way, I can split each assignment up so they don’t feel so tiring, allowing me to have complete and good quality work.
In general, and especially as a college student, it’s important to take a step back from your work sometimes. Yes, it’s great to get your work done, but in order to get things done well, you must also take your mental and emotional well-being into account. In college and beyond, it’s important to know and spend time doing the things that make you happy. Although your schoolwork is your responsibility, so is your happiness. You need to find what makes you happy and spend time doing those things. Whether it’s reading a book or working out in your free time, do whatever you need to do for you. Part of being a successful student is being happy. If you’re not, your schoolwork is likely to suffer as a result.
This semester may seem stressful and overwhelming, but with the right strategies and tools, you’ll be successful. Good wishes!!