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Achieve your Reading Week goals

By Brigid Conroy, 4th-year Biochemistry student

 “Oh, I had an incredibly productive reading week! I achieved everything that I’d hoped to!” said no one ever.

If you’re an upper-year student, you may have had the disappointing experience of making an ambitious list of academic goals for reading week only to achieve few (or none). I, for one, am hoping that this is the year that I break this vicious cycle. If you’d like to join me in this undertaking, keep reading! If you’re a first-year student, I encourage you to try out these strategies before you experience the feeling of post-reading week regret even once!

Make a term calendar for the remainder of the semester

In order to determine how your precious reading week time should be spent, you need to know what the rest of your semester looks like, so consider making a term calendar. Use your class syllabi to fill out assignment deadlines and test dates.

Make a to-do list and prioritize

Looking at your deadlines, make a list of all the things you will need to do in order to rock the second half of winter semester. Remember that this doesn’t just include academic activities, but also tasks such as applying for summer jobs. Next, rank these task from most urgent and important to least. You may want to try our Time Management Matrix.


It’s in all-caps for a reason, people. One of the easiest mistakes to make is setting unrealistic goals that will leave you frustrated and unmotivated. Take into account the amount of time you really have available – are you going on a trip? expected to spend lots of time with family? Decide what you can realistically achieve in the week and write down your goals. Sharing them with your travel partners or family will help to hold you accountable!

Make a schedule for the week

You may not be able to schedule tasks into specific blocks the way you can when classes are providing structure to your life, but even assigning tasks to particular days will help keep you on track. If this still seems too restrictive (this is supposed to be a bit of a break right?), try recording what you’ve achieved at the end of every day to check your progress.

Keep a positive attitude

Avoid thoughts like, “I’m only person in the world studying right now…” or “This is the opposite of relaxing!” Focus on what a great opportunity reading week can be to get caught up or ahead on schoolwork while you have fun!

I hope these strategies will help you return to classes proud and relaxed after a productive reading week. This is the year!

Photo courtesy of quattrostagione under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.