After coming back from a long winter break, it can be difficult to settle back into your college life for the spring semester. You might be working to understand the structure of your courses, ranging from note-taking techniques to exam schedules. Or shifting your job schedule to work around weekly class times. Or trying to at least somewhat normalize your sleep habits. Or maybe, you’re struggling with all of the above. 

This semester, along with a rigorous course load, I will be returning to my positions as a Peer Consultant at the Career Center, Treasurer for the Indian Student Association, and Secretary for Active Minds. In addition to those leadership roles, I continue to be an active member of Women in Business, the Accounting Students Association, and of course, the ever-engaging Honors blog. I’m sure that many of you, if not all, can relate to the endless accumulation of things to do that constantly flows through these types of schedules. For me, each semester starts off frantically as I try to figure out how to efficiently manage all of my different roles and responsibilities. And for me, the key is organization. 

The best way to make sure you are meeting all of your deadlines is to actually know that they exist and to adjust your schedule for when they are approaching. Throughout the semesters, I rely heavily on Google Calendar to plan out my days, weeks, and sometimes even months in advance. One of the first things I like to do when professors release their syllabi is to make note of how many exams or projects the course has, as well as when they are scheduled for. Adding these important dates into your calendar ahead of time means that you are less likely to forget about them. And that ensures that you will have enough time to both mentally and academically prepare for the headaches that are exams. Similar to physical filing of information, color-coding is an important aspect within calendars. Not only do the different colors infuse some creativity into your stressful days, but they also serve as a visual aid that quickly helps to identify your priorities by category. On my calendar, you will always find my courses in their respective colors: my work shifts in green, my exams in red, and little purple headers for other events or reminders. What colors are on your calendar?

So, calendars are a great way to get an overview of what is drawing near, but what about when you need a closer look? In order to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the laundry list of tasks, homework assignments, and projects I have ahead of me, I like to make two separate, but connected to-do lists. At the beginning of each week, I make an exhaustive, master checklist of everything that is due in the near future, and right above it, I make a daily list. Each day, tasks from the master list get moved up to the daily list, which essentially become short-term goals of what needs to be completed. Along with keeping track of my assignments, there is also a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment that comes with being able to cross things off of those lists. 

As we have all experienced many times, there is definitely a lot of pressure that comes with the start of a new semester. I’ll be the first to say that feeling stress is natural, and sometimes inevitable, but that is not to say that those pressures can’t be eased through different methods of preparation and organization. Finding what works best for you might take several tries, but in the end, it is very much worth it.

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