#DolphinsLiveWell: Managing the Final Weeks!

Maria C. Randazzo, Substance Abuse Specialist, Wellness Center for Health & Counseling

With the end of the semester closing in on us, now might be a good time to look at how your time management skills are working for you. For freshmen, college life presents a whole new way of handling your academic workload as well as eating, sleeping, exercising, club involvement, teams, friends, and relaxation. Even returning students struggle with this elusive, ever-changing dynamic as course loads become more difficult, outside activities start to include internships, and life in general becomes more hectic. In last week’s issue, Opinion Editor Melissa Schmitz wrote a great piece on organizing yourself for studying and exams. This article will focus more on scheduling your life now through finals.

The Wellness Center for Health & Counseling sees a surge in the demand for services, both at the Health Office and the Counseling Center because of stress that is experienced due to being overwhelmed. Some students present with physical concerns such as headaches, indigestion, and fatigue, while others express feelings of sadness, anxiety, and being overwhelmed. When we ask students what is going on, they will invariably admit that they have too much to do and not enough time to do it! Managing the next four weeks may be easier than planning out the 16 weeks at the beginning of the semester. The goal is to practice now so that your time management skills are in place when you return next semester.

This will be a busy time so the first recommendation is to prioritize. Students like to complete the tasks that are easier but less important first. Yes, it does create a sense of accomplishment, but even though you feel good about rearranging your furniture, you still have that 10 page paper due for World Civ! “A” tasks are the most important and must be completed in the short term like today or tomorrow. An example of this is a quiz or exam: you have to study tonight! “B” tasks are not as imminent and are to be done over time with some portions of the task needing to be completed in the short term. A good example of this would be a paper: not due until the end of the semester, but topic, resources, and outline are all due sooner. Last are the “C” tasks which are the least important, but are far more attractive, easier, and yes more fun than the A and B tasks. THIS is the furniture rearranging, room-cleaning, and clothes sorting sorts of activities that students will engage in rather than accomplishing what really is important!*

This leads us to another challenge in time management: procrastination. This would include the old “I’ll get to it,” but mostly you run out of time putting it off. There is an old adage, “once it’s begun, it is half done,” and this philosophy works for procrastination as most students find it hardest getting started on a paper, presentation, or studying for an exam. They will prefer to engage in the above-mentioned “C” tasks! One tip then for overcoming procrastination is to “just do it”, that is, start even if you spend only 15 minutes on it, you will feel accomplished and good about your motivation. This in turn will create a positive feedback loop and motivate you to continue!

Then there is pressure: you need to figure out if you are someone that works well with a deadline looming or becomes paralyzed with anxiety and ineffectual. Most people tend to have a little of both but it helps to know!

Once you are aware of your style, then you can add that to your time management toolbox!

So we’ve talked about the need to prioritize, how to minimize procrastination, and how to work under pressure. Lastly, make sure you schedule in time for yourself…whatever that means for you! This could be time with friends, for exercise, for listening to music or talking to family. Reward yourself with fun breaks in the midst of all of the classes, the studying, exams, papers, and presentations. Yes, the next four weeks will be busy but if you manage your time, you can be successful…and have fun too!!

 

*Mastering Your Adult ADHD, A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment Program. Safren,Sprich,Perlman,and Otto, 2005.