Assignments blow my time away.
I have no chance to work or play!
Turn back the clock today, I pray;
I need more hours in my day!
Back-to-School days are upon us! Are you heading off to class for the first time in many years? Want some tips for managing the workload?
Adults returning to education face a few more challenges than our younger counterparts. Real-life responsibilities, such as careers and families, force us to budget our time wisely. It’s a good thing we grownups have all that added maturity to help us cope!
How can we keep all those plates spinning in the air at once?
Stop the Stresses!
Pick your worries carefully. Deadlines, demands, and daily life can work you into a lather, if you let them. Not everything is worth the sweat.
List the things that concern you. Grab a big permanent marker, and scratch off each item that does not warrant your anxiety.
Practice Your Priorities.
As you plot out your day, try to differentiate between what is urgent and what is truly important. Choose your plan of attack accordingly.
Who really needs your attention today? Does your child need help with his or her own academic requirements?
Which assignments are due immediately? Which can wait until the weekend? What are you supposed to be reading for that upcoming book report?
Secure a Studying Spot.
It can be nearly impossible to do homework at home. The entire household (and the house itself) may clamor for your attention. Why not pack it all up and head for the library, a borrowed office, or another private spot? I have even written term papers in my parked car, just because it was quiet and private.
Think of your schoolwork, paid work, and housework as if they were all client accounts. Divide your day into 15- or 30-minute chunks, and budget it accordingly. (Even sorting the mail qualifies for this.)
Clean Up Clutter.
Keep your desk clear. Post syllabi and assignment sheets on corkboard over your desk with your calendar, so you can keep track of due dates. File away anything that’s not current or timely.
Turn Off the TV.
If you need background noise to work, then switch on some soft tunes. This will help you to concentrate better, particularly if you are trying to memorize information for a test or quiz.
Save the viewing for a less hectic time. Better yet, plan to record your favorite shows, so you can watch them when you have time. This way, you can even fast-forward through announcement and slow-moving portions of your programs.
Here’s a helpful rule of thumb: If you can say it with your fingers (on the keyboard), you will always save time. A live phone call always takes longer than a posted message. Of course, you will want to catch up with the important people in your life, but you may have to do this after that upcoming midterm exam, not before.
When deadlines loom, don’t pick up the phone. Screen your calls. Many people will leave messages, so you won’t even have to return the call. (You can have lengthy conversations during the mid-term break or after final exams!)
Depend on Your Daytimer.
Keep rosters of everything you must accomplish in a given day. List your errands, phone calls, and even grocery needs. Check off each item when you have completed it.
This is a wonderful stress-buster. You will feel less ticked-off, when you can tick things off your lists! (I even keep a notepad on my nightstand, so I can jot things down in the middle of the night.)
Escape from Excuses.
Avoid the trap of asking for extensions on assignments. Sure, you may have legitimate reasons for late work, but those projects can quickly pile up! Planning ahead and turning assignments on deadline will save you lots of time.
Be Good With Boundaries.
Don’t be devoured by requests for volunteers. Find other ways to pitch in at your school, church, neighborhood, or other area. Offer to assist with the (worthwhile but time-consuming) book drive, pizza sale, or field trip next year or after you finish your degree.
Accept for Assistance.
Do you have reliable, helpful people in your life? Often, we turn down offers for help. If your trusted neighbor offers to drive the kids this week, while your paper is due, why not let him? If your responsible cousin invites your children on an all-day excursion to the zoo, why not allow them to go? When your workload lightens, you can find a way to return the favor.
Leave Time for Leisure.
Budget for this. Take a 15-minute power nap, if you need it. Get some exercise. Grab 15 minutes to walk the dog around the block. Snuggle on the sofa with your children to read a short story together. Plant a few flowers with your family. You will actually accomplish more when you are on, if you spend a few moments off.
This is just a season in your life. Before long, you will have earned the degree you seek, and you will be able to return to real life again. After graduation, you can be available again for all those things you passed on, during your schooling.
Remember Your Reasons.
From time to time, remind yourself why you have returned to school. What will you do with your newfound qualifications? Perhaps you are advancing your career or broadening your professional capabilities. Maybe you are equipping yourself to earn a higher salary to support your loved ones.
Step back and revisit this perspective, and you may reenergize yourself!
Ready, set go!