If there’s one thing in common amongst Juniata students, it’s the number of commitments everyone has. Our students are involved in clubs, athletics, employment, and social activities, all on top of their academic courses. For me, I am the President of the Juniata Student Theatre Ensemble, I have four on-campus jobs, I take seven classes, and I also take part in the Theatre Productions, which have rehearsal six days a week. How do we do it, you ask? Here are some of my tips and tricks for staying organized and on top of your work, all while making sure there is still time to relax!
Use a Planner
I am a neat-freak, and I am obsessed with color-coding. I use a daily planner from Panda Planner to help me stay on-task and make sure I don’t forget about assignments. Not only do I use a monthly calendar to mark important events (e.g. exams, performances, deadlines, etc.), but I also use a daily layout to write down my daily schedule, tasks, and wins for each day! Since my schedule is typically filled with classes and appointments, it’s really important to check the calendar every day so you don’t forget anything! Nothing is worse than getting an email that someone is waiting for you to show up to a meeting you completely blanked on. Don’t be that person!
Make a Work Schedule
For long-term assignments, I always have this impulse to blow them off until the last minute, and then end up stressing and scrambling to get it done on time. Instead of being lazy, I break down these assignments into smaller parts, that I can do throughout the week (or month) so I don’t fall behind. It’s definitely a little tedious, because no one likes doing work that isn’t due for a while, but after you get something done early, you feel so good! I always tell myself that I’ll feel better once the assignment is done, rather than putting it off and ignoring it. For example, if I have a rough draft for a paper due in two weeks, I’ll write down exactly what needs to get done in order for it to happen. For me, I need to do research, and then write an outline, and then put my research in the outline, and then start writing my paper from there. To help ease the writing process, I will maybe do my research and outline that first week, so I have over a week to focus on just writing my paper. It may seem lame, but it’s very effective!
Create Realistic Goals
I know we all love dreaming big and setting our hopes high in order to succeed. Realistically, however, you’re not going to write a perfect 10-page paper the night before it’s due. You’re also not going to be able to do a project you’ve had for a month in one weekend. We’re given deadlines sometimes to help us, not freak us out! Making small goals for yourself, even if they aren’t work related, can be very beneficial. For example, I never go to the gym. For me to make a goal for myself to go to the gym every day for a week is completely unrealistic, since I’m not even going once now. If I made a goal to work out for 30 minutes twice a week, instead of an hour-long workout every day, it’s much more attainable, and much less stressful than trying to do things that are almost physically impossible for you.
It’s Okay to Say No
We all want to help out as much as possible, and say “yes” to as many people as we can. I often have this assumption that if I say “no” to someone, they’re going to resent me for it, and not ask me for things in the future. I don’t like disappointing people! However, through many failures and emotional breakdowns, I’ve learned that it’s more important to think about yourself and what is on your plate before you bring more things onto it, no matter how badly you want to say “yes” to something. For example, someone asked me to help them with their talent portion for Mr. Juniata. I immediately said “yes”, because I wanted to offer my assistance and it seemed like something I was capable of. It soon became apparent to me, however, that what this person needed from me wasn’t exactly my “help”; they actually wanted me to design, choreograph and be in their talent portion. I had agreed to help them with it, not do it for them. Although I had already said “yes”, I ended up reaching out to this person again and telling them I couldn’t help them. I said, “what you need from me is not what I can give you at this time”. It was really frightening to send that email. because I felt like I was letting this person down. However, I realized that it wasn’t my fault. I had agreed to something completely different than what had been asked of me, and I had every right to say “no” to this person. Trust me, saying “no” can be hard, and scary, and really intimidating at first. The good thing is, the more you do it, the more comfortable and confident you will become. Just know that it’s okay to say “no” and stick up for yourself! Especially when everyone has so much going on!