a how-to guide by someone who’s still learning
1. iCal is your best pal
(I don’t think it’s even called iCal anymore, but you get what I mean.) It sounds obvious, but the most important thing in Big Weeks––like the one I’m trucking through right now––is scheduling. Get yourself a system. Map out your time, and stick to it. Once you’ve got your timetable together, you might find that things don’t take the amount of time you thought they would––if that’s the case, move on to the next thing. Or sandwich a different job into the gap. If a task takes longer than the allotted time, either stick with it until it’s finished, or perhaps chuck a slot into the calendar for finishing up any loose ends. Up to you! As long as you don’t spend more time organising than carrying out your tasks, you’ll be sweet.
Sometimes, and this is going to sound bad, you may have to let a couple of readings slip for a class you’re not being assessed on until next month, or whatever unit of time you find yourself dealing with. If you’ve got two assignments due at the end of the week and a test to study for, this is the way to go. You can’t be putting time into things that aren’t absolutely necessary––and yes, everyone and their grandmother is screaming, “social media!” but it’s not just that––if you’re spending three hours reading over something for an essay due in almost a month instead of working on an assignment due Friday, you’re wasting time you don’t have. This also counts for friends. They’re great, but you probably don’t have time to socialise this week. Odds are, though, if your big week falls at the end of the half-semester, they’re in a big week, too. You can get through it by holing up in the study room together and working your butts off (provided you can put a stopper on the banter).
3. Find spaces that work for you
I addressed this in previous blogs, but I’m reminded of the importance of it constantly. I’ve taken up residence in the O’Rorke study room, but I’ve also come across a couple of other spots that I love––namely, the Kate Edger Information Commons (“Kate”, for short), and––on a sunny day––the area outside the Human Sciences Building. Because I’m there three times a week for my Classics lectures, I’ve spent many an afternoon basking in the atmosphere of it.
4. Remember that this ends
These weeks are tedious, and they’re boring, and you’ll feel like your head’s going to explode with the amount of things you need to get done, but you will make it through. I keep reminding myself that it’s five days until the mid-semester break, or four, or three, etc. It’s important to maintain perspective, while keeping in mind all of the jobs you need to keep a handle on. These weeks aren’t the result of you neglecting your responsibilities, or you leaving things until the last minute––because it’s not the last minute, not yet––they are just unfortunate realities of what happens when you’re enrolled in a full time course load at a university with 40,000 students. Nothing ever works out perfectly (and in my case, the last day of the half-semester seems like a great time to set due dates). Keep your head up and your nose down, and work solidly through these weeks. The relief you’ll feel at the end of it is so, so worth it. (That’s what I’ve told myself, at least!)