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So, all of your assignments have piled up into one burning garbage heap. It’s okay; we’ve all been there. There comes a point where you have to throw up your hands and prioritize your most important assignments. Don’t know how to do that? You’re in the right place. 

First things first, allow yourself to have a good cry if you need to, because letting that pressure build up isn’t going to help anyone, least of all yourself. Second, open up your window, get a glass of water and take a deep breath. We’re going to get through this. 

If you think about it most tasks fall under four categories: Urgent and important; urgent but not important; important but not urgent; and neither. Drawing a grid with four squares is a good way to organize your tasks. Alternatively, simply make a list. 

Top priority goes to tasks that are both urgent and important, obviously. For example, an essay that’s due tonight probably qualifies as both. These are the tasks you should handle first, as they will have the most consequences if not completed. 

Don’t forget that you can ask for an extension if you need to, though. Most professors get it, especially right now. 

Second comes tasks that are urgent but not important. This category might include critiques (if you’re in the fine arts), forum posts and other minor assignments. Use your discretion when it comes to these. Some of them might be skippable, but otherwise, they will probably require less attention. i.e. Don’t spend three hours on a 100-word forum post. 

Next, we have tasks that are important but not urgent. This category may include exams that are a week and a half away, creative projects and/or essays. These are things to be worked on when all of the urgent tasks are taken care of. Just try not to let them become both urgent and important, because that’s when things get scary. 

This category may also include things like cleaning up your room or doing laundry. While there isn’t a strict deadline on either thing, you should probably get to both sometime soon if possible.

Lastly, we have tasks that are neither. This category includes tasks that have been on your to-do list for forever, like cleaning out your inbox or reorganizing the apps on your phone. 

It may also include forms of entertainment, but you also do need breaks, so please keep that in mind! Binge-watching a show may not be in your best interest, but what might be is watching an episode after you’ve done your homework for the day. 

Just so you can see what this form of list-making might look like… 


Important and Urgent

Essay on gender roles in Shakespeare due tonight 


Urgent but Not Important 

Forum post for Film Studies 

Readings for tutorial 


Important but Not Urgent

Study for Psychology Exam next Friday 

Revise Fiction 


Unimportant and Not Urgent

Reorganizing your bookshelves 


I hope this helps as we move into the busiest part of the year! Best of luck to you all.

Eli Mushumanski is a queer Writing and English Honour undergrad in their fourth year at the University of Victoria. They specialize in fiction and poetry. Their work has been published by The Albatross, The Warren, and Flare: The Flagler Review, and they are a fiction editor at UVic's literary journal, This Side of West. When not caught up by schoolwork or reading, Eli plays Stardew Valley and chats with their mom on the phone.
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