Does anyone remember that three-day weekend last Monday? You know, that weekend when you didn't have much homework yet, so you took a trip or hung out with friends the whole weekend? Well, that was the last break you'll get until March 24th. You have a 61 day marathon to run.
I know what you're thinking: is this even possible? Do I actually do this every year? Will I make it out alive? Yes, you will. But you might need to try just a little bit harder to take care of yourself in the meantime. Before you start googling questions like "how much coffee can I drink before I die," check out these tips to manage your stress and prevent a mid-semester breakdown.
1. MAKE A LIST. CHECK IT TWICE.
That's right, Santa has some great tips for time management. I used to think lists and calendars were only for ~organized~ people; then I missed my first online assignment and started a long-term relationship with Google calendar. Now, I put literally everything in my calendar: assignments, schedules, coffee dates with friends, scheduled time for the gym, homework blocks... If I've got somewhere to be or something to do, it'll be there. I went to the dentist this month, and was able to calculate the exact date of my last appointment (March 29, 2017, 11:00am. And yes, I was overdue). It makes me feel a bit more meticulous than I like, but it really saves me from that vague, stressed feeling of knowing you've forgotten something important.
2. Establish one day a week as your day off.
Okay: lists and organization is important but so is rest. Taking time off from work is so important, God literally put it in the 10 commandments. It can be really hard to justify a whole day off when homework starts piling up, but see it as an investment in your own productivity. During your day off, try to do things that give you energy: spending time with close friends, getting away from campus, taking a long walk, watching a favorite show or playing a fun game. I also love having one morning a week where I don't set an alarm, and don't put pressure on myself to get moving right away. If you're really slammed, still try to set aside at least half of a day where you cut yourself some slack.
3. Find things to celebrate.
When life gives you long term goals, make them into mini goals that you can celebrate more often. (That's how the aphorism goes, right?) Seriously though, we all like to feel proud of our accomplishments, and celebrating is a great way to positively reinforce yourself for working hard. Whether its completing a big group project or hitting page 5 of a 15 page paper, let yourself feel good about the progress you are making. Take a trip to the food cart pod (if you haven't been yet I recommend the crepe cart), or get some ice cream from Jem 100 with a friend to reward yourself.
4. Establish context clues for your brain.
Your brain is really good at making patterns and predicting your behavior. That's why you start feeling hungry in the cafeteria line, or start getting sleepy when you turn the lights off. Unfortunately, your brain can also predict behaviors in an unhelpful way: if you spend a lot of time on your phone before going to bed, your brain stops associating bed with sleep and it becomes harder to conk out quickly. This applies to studying, too: if you try to study in a place where you normally watch Netflix, it can feel a lot harder to concentrate.
You can use this tendency to your advantage by establishing different study spots based on the type of homework you need to do. For example, when I need to write a paper I like to go to the library or Coffee Cottage; when I have a bunch of small online assignments I prefer being at home or at Chapters. If I just need to organize my to do list and look ahead at my schedule, I go to the Canyon Cafe. By specializing my study spots, I can give my brain more clues about what I want to get done.
5. Learn the power of a power nap.
To be honest, I'm still struggling with this one. I seem to only want naps when I can't have them (in class, while driving, etc.), because the second I get home I can think of 349 better things to do with my time. But even I can acknowledge how much better I feel after laying down for 20 minutes during a busy day. I don't usually fall asleep in that time, but being in a quiet, dark room helps me regain a sense of calmness and helps extend my energy for the day. A short nap can even improve learning and memory, which means it counts towards your study time!
I hope these tips help you feel determined to make it through the next two months. Just remember: each day you wake up, there will be more sunlight than the day before, and that's something worth appreciating!