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Sep 07 2016
by Catherine Cheng

12 Tips to Avoid Drowning in Work

By Catherine Cheng - Sep 07 2016
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Depending on the high school you went to, attending college might be a big change work-wise. You might have a lot more work than you’re used to and professors won’t be on top of you to get your work done. Pair that with an excess of events, opportunities and social events and you might find yourself drowning in work.

Here are some tips to help you resolve your heavy workloads.

1. Don’t do everything.

During the first few weeks of school, you’re going to be hit with a lot of offers. Every club on campus is going to be recruiting and, as a freshman, you’re going to be prime real-estate. With free food serving as their bribe, these clubs will draw you into their arms. You might commit to more clubs than you can handle and the worst part is they all sound interesting and you genuinely want to do them. The thing is, you can’t do everything there is to do on campus. At some point you’re going to have to make a choice.

Commit yourself to the clubs you are most interested in and want to participate the most in. This way you can avoid spending all your time on extracurricular activities and also be a more active member in the clubs you do choose to stay in.

2. Work hard before you party hard.

The thing about college is that we all come in thinking it’ll be the best four years of our lives — it will — which causes us to prioritize the partying. For many of you, this will be the first time you can honestly do whatever you want. You’re going to want to party and the lack of curfew and supervision makes it that much easier. Just remember, moderation is key. You will thank yourself when you don’t have to retake a class because you were out partying instead of cramming for your final.

3. Learn to be okay with being alone.

It is really hard to choose to be alone, especially in college. When you get to college, everyone will seem like they’re in with the "it" crowd. You’re not going to want to be seen eating alone or studying alone. You don’t want to be “the loner.” This mindset is totally understandable, however, once in a while, do make the choice to be alone. It is not silly nor is it socially awkward, instead, it’ll help you avoid distractions and do the things you wouldn’t have done otherwise. For example, eating with others will take hours while eating alone will take minutes. If you need to save time, learn to say no to your friends.

4. Cut down on travel time and utilize the time you do spend on transporting.

If your dorm is a twenty-minute walk to your classes and you only have a one-hour break between your classes, it probably isn’t worthwhile making a run back to your dorm. Look at your schedule and determine whether or not walking back and forth is going to waste a significant amount of your time. You especially need to do this if you live in a farther location or off-campus.

If the trek is long, taking the things you need for all of your classes with you is a good idea so you can avoid having to go back to your dorm between every class. Another good tip is to find a studying space you can go to in between classes. With nothing else to do, you’re sure to be productive.

Lastly, if you have to spend time in a bus or car, see if you can utilize that time for something else. A thirty-minute drive is a great time to finish some math problems or review for quizzes.

5. Don’t oversleep.

In college, you’re going to have a lot more free time than you did in high school. Since your classes are no longer back to back or from wee hours in the morning to late in the afternoon, you’re going to be tempted to fill the in between hours with Netflix or extended naps. Once in a while is definitely okay and may even be good as a stress reliever, but don’t make a habit of wasting your extra time. Instead, see if you can finish your school work during the day so you can lighten up your night.

6. Don’t make excuses for yourself.

It’s going to be really easy to explain and rationalize why you aren’t finishing your work or doing well in your classes. You might point your finger at your non-studious friends, your hard professor or your unreasonable TA. These excuses will only hinder you in the long run. Instead, ask if there’s anything you could do to improve your situation. Take control of your own fate.

7. Use to-do lists, planners and everything else.

There isn’t one thing that works for everyone, if there were, no one would procrastinate. However, there are plenty of tools out there that may prove useful to you. If you were always the disorganized type, college is going to knock the air out of you. There are too many events and due dates to remember just using your head. Find a system you like to jot down places you need to go and things you need to do. This will help you spread out your time and prevent you from missing important assignment deadlines.

8. Ask for help.

It is not embarrassing to ask for help, especially when so many people want to help you. Establish a relationship with your professors and TAs early on and visit them whenever you have problems. Get to know the people in your class and form study groups. Visit your advisor if you can’t find motivation for anything. Your college wants you to graduate and provides ample amounts of resources to help you reach that goal; use them.

9. Keep food in your dorm.

Here’s the thing, there’s going to be days when you’re running late or just don’t have time to grab food elsewhere. You’ll thank yourself when you find food in your drawers. You can also use food as a way to keep focused by rewarding yourself with a snack after you complete various assignments.

10. Stay hydrated.

The brain requires water to function, so if you’re feeling light-headed, tired, or frustrated, ask yourself if you’re drinking enough water. Sometimes the best way to be productive is to make sure you stay hydrated.

11. Read the syllabus.

Reading the syllabus is your best bet to figuring out when things are due, how things are weighted and what you’re expected to accomplish before each class. Use this to your advantage and schedule out study time for your assignments before you have to do them. This is also a good way to find out your professor’s office hours and schedule in some tutoring time.

12. Reward and love yourself.

Always remember not to be too hard on yourself. Every one of us will have a bad day once in a while. It’s okay, get back on your feet and keep going. Being caught up on your past mistakes will only prevent you from moving forward. Always think about your future goals rather than your past failures. Be determined to achieve your dreams and take concrete action towards your planned conclusion. Lastly, always love yourself and be your own spirit animal.

In the end, making the transition from high school to college will be hard. Even if high school came easy to you, college might not. Odds are, there will be at least one class or professor that gives you stress. With the right habits though, you will make it. Never stop trying.

Lead Image Credit: Steinar La Engeland via Unsplash

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Catherine Cheng - The University of Texas at Austin

Catherine Cheng is a freshman at the University of Texas – Austin majoring in Business and hopefully picking up a certificate in Computer Science. She enjoys casually binge watching TV shows, drinking iced tea, and overusing Sriracha. In her free time, she can be found writing prose and musing about contemporary poetry books.

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