This semester is nearly over. Stress is rising with the list of due assignments, and it can lead to a feeling of being spread too thin. Can it even be possible to finish everything that needs to be done? It’s not easy to focus on any single task when every class demands to be your top priority. As if that weren’t enough to balance, add the competing schedule of a job, or for those of you who live at home, carefully managing the expectations of parent landlords.
It’s easy for sleep and proper nutrition to be pushed further down the list of priorities, but they are essential for being able to effectively accomplish anything. Don’t get me wrong; college is a time to push our limits during our peak physical age, but we must consider the quality of our work. We can all produce great things if given enough time, but we aren’t. Remember what was drilled into us during standardized testing: “Don’t get hung up on a single question; keep working and return to it later.” Our brains tend to keep solving problems in the background, so we may as well get something else done in the meantime.
For most college assignments, it takes so much time to finish 90%, and that same amount again to perfect the last 10%. Part of good time management is knowing when to accept the 90% and move on to something else, even if it’s a good night’s sleep. I prefer to be well rested and have an hour to produce a well-written article, instead of staying up all night writing and re-writing one that makes less sense as the hours drag on.
In my first years here, I was too stressed about my giant to-do list to even chip away at it some days. I would get a bad night’s sleep and have nothing to show for it. Sometimes it seems like all the specific class-related items we try to learn are less important than the meta-lessons of time management and staying focused. In truth, they are. Take it from a senior: The best way to make it through the semester is to focus on what you can do, one thing at a time. Don’t succumb to the irony of a to-do list that kills your motivation. Only think about everything when you’re planning a schedule, because if you think about everything all the time, nothing will be finished.
Focusing on one task until completion can be a difficult habit to start, because we gain a false sense of multitasking skills from jumping between text conversations and social media, and thinking we’ll be just as effective when jumping between complicated homework projects.
While focus is important, don’t be completely closed off to where your mind wants to take you. If you’re knee-deep in one task, and suddenly have inspired ideas for an upcoming essay, definitely capture those thoughts before they vanish. Everything is just as important as what you’re focusing on now, but our overall purpose is to make it through this semester, and the next, until graduation. We can all get there by doing the job in front of us.
If this doesn’t apply at all to your life situation, tell me about it at [email protected] Or spend that time doing the job in front of you.