A few simple strategies to help you come off of spring break feeling renewed, energized and ready to take on the last few weeks of the semester!
The first half of the semester may be over, but the second half is here with its projects, papers and exams. Of course, the first thing you want to think about is relaxing! The last thing you want to think about it looming deadlines or loads of upcoming work. So, we encourage you to take just about an hour of your time now to set yourself up for a much more productive and enjoyable last half of the semester. How can just one hour accomplish this? Let us show you!
To lessen your stress when you return, it is a good idea to take a few simple steps to ensure that your return will be as smooth as possible. You will need the following things:
- All your class syllabi
- Access to your university’s LMS for all your classes for this semester (In case you are not familiar, LMS stands for Learning Management System and most schools use ones like Canvas, Brightspace, Blackboard, etc.)
- Your paper planner
- Your phone
- About 1 hour of uninterrupted time
Spend some time with your planner, your syllabi, and your LMS system.
Either before you leave for break or while on it, dedicate about an hour to going through each syllabus and related LMS page for your classes. Ex. If you have 5 classes, it should take roughly 10-15 minutes for each class to complete this exercise.
1. Locate any upcoming assignments, papers, projects, or tests and their due dates for the remainder of the semester. Make sure to check both the syllabus and LMS. Note these due dates in your paper planner. It is helpful to use a bright or noticeable color that will catch your attention easily when you glance at the page.
2. Set an alarm on your phone for 2 days before each assignment is due. It is worth noting that the use of alarms too frequently can have the opposite effect of the intention. People tend to “tune out” alarms when they are going off a lot. If you set an alarm (maybe even with a special sound) to go off only as a reminder about upcoming assignments, you will be much more likely to take action when you hear this. The action could be simply to double check that you are on-track to complete the task or confirm that you have already completed it. It can also act as a buffer to give you time to get in that last paper edit, last review session before the test, or that last check in with your group before a presentation.
3. Review the details of each assignment so you can judge the time it will involve in its preparation. Then back track the time you estimate it will take you to complete it (maybe a little extra). Note that day as your start date for the assignment or first study session.
4. Each day or week leading up to its completion, select a specific time to dedicate to working on JUST that. It is very helpful to write specific things in your planner such as, “study for Chem.”, or “work on Eng. Paper”, rather than a generic “study” or “homework”. That way, when you use your planner to look at what you have to do each day/week, you will see specific directions on what to do and when to do it. It is like putting the rest of your semester on autopilot!
It is also important to note that you should be realistic about the length of time you set aside for each block. If you know you are not good at concentrating for extended periods or lose focus after about half an hour, do not schedule yourself to work for 2 or 3 hours at a time. Spread those sessions out in chunks you are comfortable with, and that don’t feel so overwhelming that you will not want to follow through. You are looking to lower your desire to procrastinate, not increase it. The idea again, is to make it as easy as possible for yourself.
This process can ensure you will stay on track and not miss an assignment. This can lower your stress levels because you are not constantly having to remember what is coming up due and worrying that you will miss it or have to cram at the last minute. This also allows you to see just how much free time you have to enjoy the remainder of the semester.
When you are comfortable relying on your planner, you can eliminate the worry of if you have time to do fun stuff like hang out, go to the movies, shopping, spend the night playing video games, etc. You can fully enjoy the experience, with none of the guilt or feelings of regret for taking the time to do fun activities. Remember, college is supposed to be fun! You should feel good about experiencing those things as well.
The trick is to make sure you take the time to put everything in there and review it daily. You can reduce your stress and increase your productivity. This is the perfect time to use an hour of your time now as you head into or back from spring break. One hour now could save you so much time in the next few weeks. It is also a great habit to get into that will continue to serve you as you progress through college and your career.