Catch up and keep up!
By Anna Farronato, 3rd-year Concurrent Education student majoring in Environmental Science
Whether you are finishing up midterms or starting to think about exams, one common thing that students tend to put on hold during this busy time is ongoing course work and readings. Both of these items pile up FAST, and assignments tend to sneak up on you on top of this. Deadlines seem weeks away, until you realize that you have three essays due within a two week period and Reading Week right in between! Likewise, lecture content tends to build upon itself quickly. Many students assume they will simply be able to keep up or catch up without the required effort, however, that is not always the best plan of action.
The end of second semester has a reputation of sneaking up on us students pretty fast, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t think it failed to do the same this year. It’s completely normal to feel like you’ve fallen behind, however, have no fear! Learning Strategies is here to help you with some greats tips on how to catch up and keep up for the rest of the semester!
Time Management: two of the most important words to live by in university. Taking the time to plan and use your time effectively and efficiently is one of the most important strategies for getting back on track. Getting back on track might seem difficult, but it is one of the best things you can do to avoid cramming come exam time. A great tool for planning your time is using a weekly schedule or daily to do list. By writing down tasks that need to be completed, this allows for a clear visual representation of how much you have on your plate and allows you to designate the necessary time for each task to be completed. By using these tools, you can schedule in some “catch up” time to complete missed readings, notes, etc.
One thing to keep in mind is not spending too much time on catching up that you are falling behind on current content. Given the circumstance, it may or may not be realistic to catch up completely. While it is important to catch up on missed readings, notes, and assignments, prioritization should be involved when allotting time for catch up. For example, if you have fallen behind on 3 weeks of making notes on readings, and you have a ton of other work on your plate, try scaling back the detail of your notes to save time.
Now that you’ve scheduled in time to catch up on all of your work, it’s time to work on building habits to keep up. One important tip to help keep up with your course work, especially lecture content, is to review your notes soon after each lecture. Scheduling in time to review is just as important as scheduling in time to complete assignments and to study for tests. Keep in mind setting realistic goals and prioritizing your time appropriately when scheduling.
Another tip to help stay on top of your work is to keep yourself motivated. Getting the motivation to do readings and note making can sometimes be difficult. To help get started, one tip that I like to use is the “5 More Rule”. This means committing to 5 minutes, or 5 pages of reading, or 5 sentences to write. From here, try the 50/10 rule (study for 50 minutes and take a 10 minute break). If the 50/10 rule doesn’t work for you, try setting a different target in terms of time spent on the current activity, or amount of work to be completed. Everyone is different when it comes to how long they can keep concentrated on a task. If you’re finding that distractions are a problem, try working in a quiet place away from friends and turn off your technology. Lastly, remember to think positively, believe in yourself, and reward yourself after reaching your goals.
Photo courtesy of klengel under Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license 2.0.