Updated: Apr 29, 2020
Yes, it happens. Sometimes life is just so extremely busy that it causes us to lose sight of our academic lives. We fall behind. We fail a practical test. We wake up too late and miss an early-morning lecture. And then we transform into stressed-out, dosed-with-caffeine, unfriendly human beings trying to cram the entire semester and catch up on all the outstanding work! It’s crazy and it makes us crazy.
Surely, there must be another way to deal with it – and there is. Below is a plan-of-action for students who are falling behind, struggling with time management and desperately want to get back-on-track.
1. IDENTIFY everything that is outstanding. Make a list, draw a table, write it on the wall, WHAT SO EVER. As long as you can see it and plan your schedule from it, it’s perfect. Structure this list with the most important task at the top and the least important task at the bottom. 2. THINK about your current schedule. Look at your schedule and highlight those hours that you are not at work, not in lectures, not writing tests, etc. Those are your golden hours. You are going to need them. 3. Start ALLOCATING. Now, look at the top of your list. Start allocating these tasks to your golden hours. For example, if your Monday classes finish at 3pm and you only have to be at work at 6pm, then you have at least 2 golden hours that you can spend on work that is outstanding! (The 3rd hour can be used to get ready for work, transport, eating etc.)
4. COMMIT yourself to your newly planned schedule. Is there anything more satisfying than getting things done? In order to get back-on-track, reduce your stress levels and increase your preparation time for exams, you have to stick to this newly planned schedule. You cannot waste golden hours. You cannot oversleep. You really have to commit to this plan-of-action, and you CAN if you put your mind to it. 5. ASSESS yourself constantly. When you constantly assess yourself, you support continuous improvement. It is also very important that you do this the right way, otherwise it can result in more stress and negatively influence your self-image. How do you do this the right way? As long as you are not criticizing yourself and as long as your focus remains on improvement when you are evaluating, you are doing it right. Let’s look at an example. If you are evaluating the fact that you take 2 hours to study one small chapter for a module: The WRONG way of self-evaluation will be: “I’m a slow-learner, I’m not very bright.”, “I don’t easily understand new content”, “I hate this module!” The RIGHT way of self-evaluation will be: “I need to think of an alternative way to master the content of this chapter”, “I’m not very interested in this module, but HOW can I make it more interesting and fun for myself?” Your self-talk is very important. Positive self-talk will drive you and motivate you during those stressed and rushed times in life.