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Staying on Track

Updated: Feb 15

Written by: Joanelle Barbon

There is no doubt that university can be stressful and overwhelming. With many assignments to complete and many topics to learn, staying on top of your studies can be challenging. Here are five tips that can help you stay organized and on track as the new semester approaches.

1. Use Calendars

One of the simplest tools that can help you stay organized is a calendar. Calendars give a visual representation of how your month will look like and can help you plan and prioritize your activities accordingly. While you can use paper calendars, there are many online calendars – such as Google Calendar – that work just as well.

My personal Google Calendar

To effectively use any type of calendar I would suggest colour coordinating your activities by type (i.e. red for school deadlines and yellow for personal activities), updating your calendar immediately when new activities arise, and checking your calendar regularly for upcoming deadlines. With online calendars, set reminders for each activity and, if available, download its mobile application on your phone for easy access.

2. Have a goal-oriented attitude

Setting goals can help you plan out how you are going to tackle your tasks in the best way possible. What I have found to be effective is setting daily goals on a weekly basis. At the start of each week, I look at what I need to get done then carefully lay out what I want to achieve each day accordingly. By taking the time to plan out my week, I can make goals that are relevant and most importantly, attainable.

An example of how I lay out my weekly goals

When setting goals, it is important to be clear and realistic – do not set goals that are unpractical. Limit the number of goals you set and combine a mix of easy and hard goals per day. The more attainable your goals are, the more likely you will be able to achieve them (moreover, achieving goals alone can be a huge source of motivation to push through your next goals!).

3. Set a deadline before the deadline

It can be easy to put off an assignment when you have all the time in the world to complete it. However, you do not want to find yourself in a position where you have to cram the night before something is due. Save yourself from the stress by setting deadlines before the deadline. In other words, try not to treat the actual deadline as the deadline.

Of course, it can be difficult to stick to deadlines you have made yourself. So, try to instill a sense of urgency to your deadlines by scheduling them as near to the present as possible. You can also make “mini” deadlines, where you break apart assignments or studying into smaller parts that you need to get done by certain dates. Not only will these techniques keep you more driven throughout the process, but you are more likely to start working on your tasks earlier than you normally would.

4. Minimize your distractions

Distractions are one of the biggest factors of procrastination. Excessive use of social media, TV shows and games can prevent students from staying on top of their studies. Thus, it is important to find a strategy that will help minimize distractions so that you can make more effective use of your time and, ultimately, accomplish more.

If you are someone who gets easily distracted like me, the Pomodoro Technique is just for you. The Pomodoro Technique is a time-management strategy that breaks down your work sessions into intervals, traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. What is great about Pomodoro work sessions is that they are long enough to get some work done but not so long that it feels dreadful and overwhelming. While you can set up an alarm for each interval, there are many Pomodoro “Study with Me”

videos online that can be used during your study sessions as well.

5. Take a breath

Lastly, amidst all the deadlines to meet, it is important that you take the time to rest. Whether that be allocating a day for self-care, hanging out with friends or exploring the city, set a time for leisure where you can completely disconnect from all school-related activities and recharge. I love to explore my neighbourhood while walking my dog or take late night drives around the city but whatever you choose to do, don’t think about school!


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