School is just around the corner, and with that comes not only pumpkin spice lattes and cute sweaters, it also brings homework, study sessions, schedule juggling, and wanting to pull your hair out. I have orientation for the dietetics program I’m going into in exactly two weeks, and if the welcome packets and information emails I’ve received have done anything, it’s convince me that between Supervised Practice Hours, full class schedules, trying to run my household, and juggling some semblance of a social life … I am going to die. Okay, not really, but this is clearly going to be an extremely busy and difficult two years. I don’t even want to talk about the finals weeks I have to look forward to.
I have two options: 1. freak out and struggle along or 2. go in with a plan, stick with it, and be okay. Alright, I’ll be honest, the latter is a bit easier said than done, but if you put the work in ahead of time and stay calm, you will absolutely be able to stay afloat through the craziest of weeks (or entire semesters, for that matter).
Deep breath. Chin up. Stay calm. Let’s dive in.
Step 1: Prioritize
Grab yourself a notepad (I like graph paper) and a pen, brew up a cup of coffee, and jot down all the plates you’ll be spinning during your busy week. Tough class? Workout regimen? Errands and appointments? Write ’em all down.
Done? Good. Now number your list in order of importance. Think hard. Absolute non-negotiables at the top, stuff that could potentially be put on the back burner without too many consequences at the bottom.
Step 2: Schedule It Out
This step has two parts: writing a list of to-dos and actually scheduling. First, make a list of everything that you need to get done, organized by priority. Break every item down into specifics (instead of “study biochemistry” break it down into “make biochem flashcards,” “read biochem chapter 3,” and “take biochem quiz 2”). Speaking of studying, here are my best study tips.
Once your list is made, grab your planner (read about the one I’m obsessed with here) or a blank sheet of paper and write out a schedule. Spread the most important items out first (don’t forget to include your work schedule or any appointments so they don’t get forgotten!), then go in and fill in any not-as-important tasks as you have space. Make sure to keep each day’s to-do list a manageable size. You’ll be more likely to get things done if there isn’t a seemingly never-ending list in front of you each day.
Step 3: Stick to Your Schedule
Um, duh. Sounds simple, but it’s tricky. Stay on top of things and make sure to tick off your to-do list each day so things don’t pile up on you. While procrastination is much more fun than actually sitting down and cranking out that essay, you’ll be thanking yourself later when it’s the night before everything is due, and you’re able to actually go to bed instead of pulling an all-nighter.
Step 4: Take Breaks
Taking time away from working may seem counter-productive, but if you don’t take regular breaks, you’ll burn out and end up either not churning out quality work or even quitting altogether. Don’t do it! Schedule regular breaks (I like to take 10 minutes for every hour I work) and most importantly, take extra breaks if you need them. I can’t stress this enough. If you feel yourself hitting the wall, take a walk. Read a book. Grab a snack. Do anything. Do not push yourself to the point of exasperation.
Now, on the other hand, don’t use this advice as an excuse to skip out on a to-do item just because you’re not feeling like working. Be diligent but don’t be stupid. A healthy, ready-to-go mind can accomplish much more than a strung-out, tired one.
Step 5: Make Things Easy on Yourself
Get little items out of the way for future you as much as possible. Set out your clothes, freeze your smoothie, and get your lunch for the next day ready the night before. Work on a couple homework problems while you’re sitting in between classes. Listen to your online lecture while you’re going for a run. Maximize your time now to take a little pressure off yourself later.
Step 6: Celebrate the End!
Plan a celebration to look forward to during your tough week. Whether it’s drinks with the girls, a relaxing mani-pedi, or splurging on that cute purse you saw online, keep your eye on the prize while you’re working your butt off then enjoy it once you’ve made it through! You deserve it, champ.
How do you stay sane during a crazy-busy week?