I burned the candle at both ends for the sake of it and thought I knew exactly what I was doing but found myself exhausted with my wheels spinning taking me absolutely nowhere. My GPA suffered and overall confidence suffered.
Many days I found myself getting nothing done because I just felt so completely overwhelmed and like I was drowning in responsibilities .
This semester, though, I’ve taken a much simpler, well-paced approach with various tools that have proved incredibly useful.
It’s actually pretty easy to keep your life under control as long as you make an effort to do so, so here are some tips that I’ve found are really helpful in staying afloat…
1) USE A PLANNER, USE A PLANNER, USE A PLANNER
I cannot stress enough how vital this is. I can assure you that things will will will slip through the cracks if you do not write them down.
I use a Kate Spade planner because it’s simple, elegant, and there’s plenty of room to write.
The first thing I do is go through my syllabi and write down every single assignment that counts for a grade the day it is due. This helps me make sure little assignments don’t end up getting unfinished – don’t act like it’s never happened to you.
Next, I go through and highlight the assignments. Yellow for exams, orange for quizzes, and pink for miscellaneous assignments.
After that I go to month calendar part and input the important things I don’t want to forget (like Presidential debates, amirite?).
There are other options as far as life organizing goes, but I really don’t thinks there is anything nearly as effective a pen and paper planner. There are few things as satisfying as physically crossing off a completed task.
2) TRELLO IS MY SAVIOR
If you don’t have Trello you need need need to download it right now. Like immediately. I’m not joking.
Trello is an online task-oriented planner that keeps track of everything.
Here are three of my boards. One for my personal goals, schoolwork, and my job. But you can use it for anything like as a blogging calendar, fitness board, or vacation planner.
I won’t go into the nitty gritty details because there are excellent tutorials out there, but here is the inside of one of my boards:
For school, I listed every single component of the final grade for each of my classes. When you lay it out this way, you realize that there really aren’t that many assignments that make up your final grade. While this does mean each assignment is weighted heavier, it also means it is easier to keep everything under control and not have to juggle a thousand things at once – well, not as much.
Whenever I finish an assignment, I drag it to a list (not pictured above) called “tasks completed”. There is something incredibly satisfying about moving a task from to-do to done.
Trello is an excellent tool that I highly recommend.
3) STAY AHEAD OF DEADLINES
Something I’ve found incredibly useful is to stay about a week ahead of my syllabus. Now, I know this is much more doable for liberal arts majors like myself where most of the classes as not lecture-based but rather learned from textbook reading, but staying ahead has helped me a lot so far and gives me more room to fall behind because falling behind actually means still staying on pace.
Living your life in a reactionary mode can be stressful, and playing catch-up isn’t a fun game to play. Do tomorrow’s (or even next week’s work) today because it’s always better to get things done early than late. Make a conscious effort to stay ahead of your work because it’s much less stressful and really feels great to be on top of things.
4) BE HABITUAL BUT INTENTIONAL WITH YOUR SCHEDULE AND LIFE
Wake up at the same time every day. I struggle with this every single morning. My exhaustion level varies without fail. Some mornings I wake up at 5:30 am ready to get the day started, and other mornings I’m struggling to keep my eyes open at 9:30 am – no matter what time I go to sleep, this is the case. What I’ve found though is that forcing myself to get up at least an hour before I have to do anything helps my day go much smoother because I have the chance to plan out my day and know what to expect.
You also need to know your priorities for the day. Think about what you have scheduled and what your tasks are and decide which of them is the most important. Now, don’t put all your energy into that one thing, but make sure that thing gets done the best it can be.
Another bonus habit to build is to make your bed every morning. There is a massive difference between how I feel when I walk into my room and see my bed made and when I see it all disheveled and messy. Try it for a week. I guarantee you’ll see a major difference in how you feel.
Take a break. It’s just school. It’s just life. Your performance is never a reflection of your worth, potential, and ability. It is vital to your performance to take productive breaks and let yourself decompress every single day – no excuses. For me, I like to sit back and read or watch Friends. For you, it might be going on a run or taking a nap. Either way, it is so important to let yourself unwind each and every day regardless of how busy you are.
I hope these tips were helpful! I know they’ve helped me feel like I
actually kinda have my life under control! What other strategies do y’all use to succeed in school and life? Leave a comment below!