Surviving Midterm Season: Time Management 101

With midterm season approaching and reading week coming up quickly, we’re probably all finding ourselves buried in schoolwork. Personally, I’ve been coasting through the past few weeks of school doing readings and watching episodes of The Bachelor with my roommates. Although it’s been fun, it hasn’t been the best for preparing for what we endearingly call “hell week,” where we are suddenly faced with finishing four assignments and studying for three midterms in the span of five days. So fun! My hell weeks always used to creep up on me until I would realize at the last minute that something was due tomorrow. Luckily, I have now gone through a bunch of trial-and-error methods of time management and I’ve compiled a list of all the best tips I have for staying sane through midterm season.

Keep a planner

If you’re not already doing this, how have you survived school?! I put everything in my planner: assignment due dates, tests, meetings, extracurriculars, get-togethers with friends, birthdays… basically everything I need to remember but quite possibly (definitely) might forget. Having a visual layout of your day is useful for keeping you on track, and it also helps you to prepare for the days ahead. Plus, the planners at Indigo like this one will look super cute on your desk, and if you’re a sucker for stationery like me you’ll love the aesthetic. To keep the planner more organized, I like to color-code my events by class so that I can know what to focus on just by looking at the colors for the week.

Schedule your days

If you have a crazy busy week to get through, looking at everything you have to get done can seem so daunting and unmanageable that it causes your brain to shut down and give up before you’ve even begun! The way I tackle my schedule is to take some time and go over my agenda for the next week during the weekend before. Make a list of everything you have to get done and how long it will take you to finish each task. Also, make sure you overestimate that amount of time, especially if you get distracted easily. Scheduling yourself realistically is the whole point of this exercise, so thinking you will be able to write a 2000 word essay in an hour will definitely stress you out when it doesn’t turn out that way. Then plan what you have time for each day and make notes of when you will work on what. Setting up a plan of action to tackle schoolwork will make you way less stressed and you will feel much more organized; just be sure to create your plan in advance!

The Lalagirl On Computer

Factor in breaks

When doing your time budgeting, be sure to account for study breaks and distraction time. You can’t work for six hours straight without burning yourself out. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should be factoring in a four-hour Netflix marathon to your time schedule though. Be diligent and realistic in your timing.

…Including sleeping time

If you can help it, try not to schedule when you’ll be working on assignments into the later hours of the day. Unless you know that you work better during the evening and can afford to sleep in the next day, try your best to avoid late nights. I find that if I plan to start working on something later into the evening, I’ll give up and fall asleep before I actually do anything productive. Losing out on sleep is detrimental during busy weeks because your fatigue will just snowball until you feel completely dead and unproductive.

girl sleeping in black and white

Location is everything

Find an effective study space for the material you need to cover. Studying in your bedroom is not always the best option as you may find yourself easily distracted by other things. Find your favorite study spot on campus, either silent or with some background noise, whatever environment you work best in. Keep in mind that sometimes the environment you work in changes based on what you’re doing! For example, if I’m writing an essay I prefer full silence so that I can formulate my ideas and zero-in my focus, but for math I prefer to have a little background noise. Maybe you’re the opposite! But it's important to know your habits so you can set yourself up for success. Try out the library, concourse, atriums, coffee shops, study lounges or anywhere else that will suit you best.

Prioritize

As much as it sucks, limit the amount of unnecessary social events in your week. Let your friends know that you’ll be MIA during your busy week and promise to make plans once the due dates have passed. There will always be more social events to go to and getting a crappy grade because you were partying is not the best feeling. However, that’s not to say that you must isolate yourself from society until you’re through working! Plan in some time to unwind and take a break from work or you will go insane.

Managing your time can be tough to plan for and execute, but if you stick to your schedule and stay focused, you can get through super busy weeks with way less stress. Just remember to take care of yourself and know that you will get through it!