So, the semester is under way and you’ve found yourself buried deep in projects and papers. You barely have time to inhale your breakfast and run out the door in the morning, and by the time you get home at night, you’re exhausted. So how could you possibly make time for writing?
Here are a few tips I’ve learned for staying on top of things:
1. Never skip classes.
This one seems simple, right? Well, far too often, we fall into the trap of having so much to do that we figure skipping “just one class” will solve everything. Trust me, I’ve been guilty of that myself. But the honest truth is, skipping a lecture only makes things worse. Sure, you can get the notes from a friend. But what if they have a different note taking style? There’s no guarantee that what’s important to them will be important to you. Plus, often times professors will go over key items that might be on the next day’s homework, or the next exam. Skipping class means you’ll miss out on instruction you paid for.
2. Exercise often.
While this may seem counter-intuitive at first, trust me. Exercise gives you energy and helps stimulate your brain. One of the easiest ways to make time for your writing is to ensure that you can focus on your studying and get it out of the way. The happier your brain is, the easier it will be to focus when you need to.
3. Follow your energy cycles.
We all have natural energy cycles that we go through each day. For example, I tend to be most productive mid-morning, and I start feeling sluggish and sleepy just after lunch. Keep track of your energy levels throughout the day for an entire week, and try doing the most difficult mental tasks when that energy seems highest, saving those mindless chores for when you’re about to fall asleep on your feet. You may just find that it’s easier to focus on what you need to get done if you know your energy is high, leaving free time to get to writing.
4. Write things down.
Everyone hates the planner. Our teachers made us use them in school, and our parents made us keep track of our to-do lists. If you hated these things, chances are, you just don’t have a system that works for you. Try a few different ways of tracking assignments and to-dos. The less time you spend scrambling to remember what you needed to get done in those unexpected moments of free time, the more of a chance you can get those assignments out of the way.
5. Get ahead!
Professors give their students a syllabus for a reason. Even if you don’t know what the assignments will be ahead of time, you’re likely to know what chapters will be covered when just by looking at the syllabus. Try reading ahead! If you know your professor likes definitions, start memorizing early! Not only will you be more prepared in class, but that will speed up the process when it’s time for homework. Instead of sitting there, reading pages upon pages, looking for the answer to one question, you can skim quickly through to find where you had already read about it. Imagine how much time that will save!
Tried some of these methods? Have a few more of your own? Share your experiences in the comments section below!