It's the fourth day of the new semester, and I've already seen one of my classmates hysterically sobbing her eyes out. Another, on the second day, stared at me with blank, dead eyes. From the depths of homework-filled despair, he asked: "How do you do it??"
Because I do it. I'm generally cheerful and productive, and while I do get stressed sometimes, I never get that stressed. I haven't cried at all since I started college.
So here are some of my tips on how to keep the stress at bay, in spite of the homework piling up. Some of these are really obvious, but I BET YOU AREN'T DOING THEM. So take a deep breath, and get to work.
1. WHEN YOU GET AN ASSIGNMENT - DO IT.
Teacher: "I'm giving you a 10-page essay. It's due in two weeks." You: "Oh great, I have plenty of time. Guess I should go out with my friends tonight."
Here's how it should go: Teacher: "I'm giving you a 10-page essay. It's due in two weeks." You: *quickly skims the prompt in class*: "Hmm, let me think of a topic I can maybe write about for this. Okay...I think I've got it." (EVERY TIME. YOU GET A PROMPT. YOU SHOULD IMMEDIATELY DO THIS.) You: *goes back to your dorm*: "Gee, I don't have too much work. Let me just write the thesis for this paper - then I can go out with friends."
Basically, time manage. It. Is. So. Necessary.
2. TAKE A PRODUCTIVE BREAK. So let's say, through no fault of your own, the work has piled up to an extent that you will have to pull an all-nighter just to finish it all, and you'll still be rushed. You're hyperventilating. Your head is swimming and the tears are coming on.
Here's what you need to do. You need to take a half-hour break, right now. Set yourself a timer.
During this break, you will not go on your phone. You will do slow breathing. You will eat some chocolate. You will listen to a song, without watching the youtube video.
Above all, YOU WILL KEEP THINKING ABOUT ALL THE WORK YOU HAVE TO DO. Don't push it out of your head, or else when you remember it you'll just get all stressed out again. Start organizing in your mind: "Well, I'll do this first...then that..."
3. ONE THING AT A TIME. When that half an hour finishes, get to work. Do the first assignment on your list first. Give that assignment your full attention. This is the time where you should be pushing everything else out of your mind.
4. TAKE UNPRODUCTIVE BREAKS. After you finish the first assignment, take a ten-minute phone break. Time yourself. Then move on to the next assignment.
If you feel like you desperately need a break mid-assignment, like you aren't being productive anymore and your mind is wandering, then this is also the time to take a break. The mid-assignment breaks SHOULD NOT INCLUDE A PHONE. These should involve you staring at a wall and listening to music, or talking to a friend. NO ELECTRONICS. Make sure you time yourself during this break too. A mid-assignment break should be shorter, approximately the length of one song.
5. DON'T START WORKING RIGHT AFTER YOU GET CRITIQUED. You work for hours on your final paper. You finally finish, take it to your professor's office hours, and ask her to look it over. She takes one look at it, says, "Good start," and rips it to pieces. She has a million suggestions, all of which you write down, of course. Then you leave, taking the last shreds of your paper's dignity with you. Your head is spinning with corrections. You want to get started right away.
Now is not the time to start editing. Give yourself a day (or if that isn't possible, at least an hour) to digest the professor's corrections, and come to terms with the fact that your paper isn't the perfect piece of art that you thought it was. When you calm down - then you can start editing.
These are the tricks that work for me every time. Of course, everyone is different - but I would seriously recommend giving these things a try. I wish everyone the best of luck on the new semester!