Every semester the same thing happens. Students enjoy the slow pace of the first month or two of classes, they procrastinate, and they justify their procrastination by telling themselves that their assignments are not due for months. And then suddenly, it is the end of the semester, all those assignments are due at the same time, studying for finals consumes all of your time, and you have to cram a semester’s worth of work into a few short weeks. It is stressful. It is exhausting. It is unnecessary.
I have posted here before about my technique for avoiding end of semester cramming (see my post on how to use a day planner). Simply put, I schedule backwards. First, I note the deadlines for all of my projects on my calendar, then I start from the very end of the semester. Working backward, I give myself check points – dates by which I need to finish each project in order to complete them on time. I note these check points on my calendar, then break the assignment down into daily tasks. When I employ this method, it is not uncommon for me to end up having daily tasks scheduled in September for a project due in November or December.
Take, for example, one of my classes this semester that requires a term paper worth 75% of my grade due during the last week of classes. For this assignment I gave myself a check point in both October before which I plan to complete an outline for the paper and one in November before which I plan to write a first draft. Then, I broke down the work required to do this paper into daily tasks and scheduled them, starting from December and working back towards September. I have actually scheduled some time to do research for this paper this week.
This method is all about being proactive, and it works! Sure, it feels like a lot of work now, especially while your classmates are procrastinating and enjoying free time. Believe me, however, when the end of the semester comes they will be scrambling to finish their projects, papers, and studying for finals; and you will be stress-free and well-rested.
Click here for your two minutes of procrastination, and donate your old and broken cell phones to Medic Mobile through Phi Eta Sigma at John Jay’s Cell Phone Drive during the month of September. You can bring your phones to room 3300N between 9 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday, or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to find a way to donate that is more convenient for you.