By Jordan McNeil
Well, it’s that time again: the end of the semester. Are you feeling stressed and overwhelmed and just a little panicky? Because I sure am. As you already know, I’m a procrastinator, and this semester was particularly bad for me in terms of procrastination. I’m honestly not even sure why that was, but that’s a question for another time.
Since we’re at the end, and the nice long summer break is within sight, I thought I’d share some tips on how to make it through the mountain of work left to do these last few weeks — especially since I’ve begun to master how to get everything done in a short amount of time. Thanks, procrastination.
One: stay focused. OK, yeah I have trouble with this normally — hence the procrastination — but at crunch time I have a few tricks up my sleeves. One of the biggest things I do is make to-do lists. I make multiple. First there’s the master list, the long one that is scary to look at that contains absolutely everything that must get done before the semester officially ends. Then, there are smaller ones that break down that intimidating master into daily tasks, which are organized within the list by which is the most important to get done first.
These help me keep track of all the work I have to do, so I don’t end up forgetting about a paper or a project until the due date. But they also create bursts of motivation to continue on when I complete a task. It’s oddly satisfying to cross something off a to-do list once the job is done, and a lot of time that provides me with new energy to go tackle the next thing.
Two: get sleep. I’ve mentioned this before, but in addition to being just plain great, sleep is important. Especially when you’re stressed to the extreme or so busy with work you can’t even think. Stress wears your body and your brain out, and sleep is really the only way to repair that. So whether it’s a full night’s sleep or a few hours long nap every so often, make sure you are sleeping, because eventually staying up with no sleep will do your work more harm than good, and you’ll be submitting your 50 page assignment riddled with typos.
Three: breathe. It doesn’t hurt to stop every now and then, especially at peak stress points, and take a moment to collect yourself. Remind yourself that you can do the tasks laid out in front of you, that you’ve got this in the bag. From experience, this can actually go a long way — negatively talking to yourself while trying to work through a load of stressful work only makes it worse. Yes, maybe you wouldn’t have this much to do if only you worked on it earlier instead of watching Netflix, but that’s past, and beating yourself up about it now will do zero good.
If self-affirmations won’t help, because you find yourself a big fat liar, then ask a friend or two to touch base periodically — check your progress, maybe help out with a problem you’re stuck on, encourage you to keep going. If the last four-and-a-half years taught me anything, it’s that you absolutely can finish a semester strong, even if you’ve procrastinated. You just have to keep at it and remember: you’ve got this.