I cannot believe midterm season is already upon us – this semester is flying by! I count myself lucky because I’ve never had a strenuous amount of exams and papers during this time. However, I do have a few tips and tricks I’d like to share that have helped me manage all of my assignments.
1. Don’t stress!
Now, I know what you’re thinking … how can I not stress when I have all these grade-determining, time-consuming assignments to complete for all of my classes? I completely understand how easy it is to become overwhelmed by the amount of work that’s due in a short period of time and the magnitude of the assignments. However, it’s something I actively try not to think about. Instead of focusing on how rigorous an assignment is, I treat it like it’s a weekly low-stakes discussion post. This enables me to tackle each task without adding additional pressure to myself that may negatively impact my work.
In regard to exams, I’ll study adequately but ultimately tell myself that as long as I am doing my best, I will be satisfied with whatever grade I receive. I’ll always stop studying at midnight, because realistically, I will not be retaining information when I’m exhausted. When it comes time to sit for an exam, I tell myself that I know what I know and I accept that there may be some things I don’t know. The questions that show up on the exam are out of my control. In the grand scheme of things, this is one exam for one course I am taking. It is not worth ruining my sleep schedule or stressing myself out to an unhealthy extent because these things can have long-term consequences on my mental health and academic performance.
2. Attend office hours
I’m sure you hear this advice a lot, but there is a reason why! Office hours are so helpful because they really allow you to connect with your professor and understand their expectations of you. Every professor I’ve had genuinely wants me to succeed and is more than willing to answer any questions I have about assignments or course content. Although classmates can be a good resource for answering questions regarding the course, I find that professors are often more helpful, as they can more adequately respond to concerns. Additionally, a lot of my professors have subtly hinted at what material will be on their exams when I have seen them – you could get lucky!
3. Start papers and projects prior to the day before (or the day of) their deadline
Full transparency, I am a chronic wait-until-the-last-possible-second-to-do-something kind of student. I always have been. However, my stress levels have significantly declined since I started writing my papers a few days before they are due. I recently had an eight page paper due on a Friday; I wrote four pages on Wednesday, four pages on Thursday and then proof-read and submitted the paper on Friday. For me, writing four pages in a day is a lot more manageable than writing eight pages. If you would prefer to write a page or two a day, start writing however many days before the deadline you need and hold yourself accountable for completing them. In general, this tip makes lengthy assignments appear a lot smaller and less intimidating, and in turn, reduces stress levels.
4. Plan, plan, plan!
In addition to being a last-minute worker, I am also someone who rarely writes down what assignments I have due and when. However, midterms and finals seasons are the exceptions to this pattern. Since there are a lot of heavy-duty assignments due in a two or three-week span, it is so important to stay on top of deadlines and adequately plan time to complete assignments. I turned to Canva to find a weekly planner template that I like and edit at the end of each week. I write down what assignments are due each day, and I also note what I want to work on each day of the week. I’ve found that this helps me not feel overwhelmed by the amount of work I have, and I love experiencing what I call the “productivity high” after I complete and cross off what I have done on a given day.
5. Take time for yourself!
This last tip is arguably the most important! Don’t be so hard on yourself these next couple of weeks. You will complete everything, and keep in mind that you are doing your best in a time of stress. Make sure you are eating, staying hydrated and getting adequate rest every day these next few weeks. Treat yourself to a coffee or snack you like, schedule some free time for yourself to spend time with friends, read a book, watch a movie or do whatever it is that brings you joy.
Although grades are important to many, I believe it is more important to take care of yourself and do your best, and remember that everyone’s best looks different!