Howdy! I haven’t been on the blog in a few weeks, sorry about that. Normally I try to have a post every other week, but the end of term is rapidly approaching and with it is the date all five of my assignments must be all shiny and ready for submission. (Hence my absence.)
I dislike having so much to do late in this term. Thanksgiving was yesterday, and Christmas music is in the air. The last thing I want to do is sit in my room to work on deadlines for hours and hours at a time, especially when I could be home reenacting Owl City’s song Peppermint Winter.
“I twirl through the driveway with angelic grace, ‘til I slip on the sidewalk and fall on my face.”
Yeah, I identify with those lyrics on the soul level.
Anyway, I hear ya. It is so difficult to focus on studying when there are so many festivities to participate in (Christmas markets, Christmas shopping, Christmas movie marathon watching, Christmas everything, etc.), but look at it this way: The sooner you finish your assignments this term, the sooner you can enjoy all of those things 100% stress free. Cause yeah, it is possible to watch Christmas movies stressfully. But that’s no fun.
I’ve figured out a couple of helpful tips that have made this time of year a little bit easier for me, so I figured I’d pass them along.
1. Set your own deadlines at least a month in advance.
Viki encouraged me to do this and it has been a great way of staying organized. Every single year I get my deadlines for each of my units and tell myself that even though they are all due in the same week in December (!?!?!?!) I will start on them early to avoid stress later. In theory, it’s a great idea. But I’m in third year now and only finally got around to actually trying that. The first two years were great up until the last two weeks of each term when I forgot to eat most of the time due to business and I was writing almost around the clock (I do NOT recommend that).
This year, all five of my deadlines are due on December 15th, one of which is the creative portion of my dissertation (10,000 words woot!), and I really didn’t feel like repeating the time management mistakes of previous terms. So I took Viki’s suggestion. I sat down in Baffled Coffee (link), opened my calendar and a notebook, and planned exactly what I would be working on for each day during the entirety of November and December until the submission date. I wrote down when I wanted to have first drafts done, followed by when I wanted to have editing days focusing on each assignment, and then arranged these around the peer reviewing sessions my units were doing each week.
This has easily been one of the most helpful things I could’ve done. I highly recommend it.
The only catch is this: It only works if you stick to the deadlines you’ve given yourself. Pretend that date is the real submission deadline and completely finish it. I know it’s difficult. It’s weird aiming to finish something if you know in the back of your mind it’s not due for another month. But in the end, you’ll save yourself so much time, effort, and all-nighters.
2. Find some amazing motivating music.
Obviously this tip would only be for those who work well with music playing in the background. If you don’t, just skip over to the next one.
Music helps me work. I absolutely cannot focus if I’m surrounded by people chatting up storms. For some reason that’s just distracting. Music on the other hand is perfect.
(I’m currently switching back and forth from piano Christmas songs and Landon Austin on Spotify.)
The type of music which helps me focus best can vary depending on the day. Sometimes it’s Taylor Swift songs I know backwards and forwards, sometimes it’s epic movie soundtracks, and other times they need to be completely instrumental with the volume really low.
I’d encourage you to find what works for you. Music can help make the time go by faster, and I recommend taking dance breaks frequently. They’re great.
Which leads me into my third tip…
3. Take breaks.
When I had scheduled out when I would be working on all my deadlines, I also scheduled consistent days off. Sometimes I get tired from working too many days in a row and need a day off doing absolutely nothing deadline related.
And when I say nothing, I mean no editing, no extra reading, no planning, nothing. No progress. It’s surprisingly helpful in moderation.
Other times I can stuck on what I’m working on and just need an hour or two away from it. Then I can come back with a fresh pair of eyes and continue where I left off. When you decide to take breaks is completely up to you of course, I would simply encourage you not to overlook getting the rest you need. It’s difficult to give our best when lack of sleep or time off prevents us.
This also is easier to do if you’ve set your calendar up enough in advance. The farther in advance you start working, the more frequent your rest times can be, guilt and stress free. Whereas the closer your deadlines get, it becomes easier to push aside rest time to finish assignments last minute.
Hope these are helpful! Happy studying!!