It’s 2:30 am. You’re on your 157th cup of Foldgers and you can barely keep your eyes open, let alone read and memorize another note card. Your first exam is in five and a half hours and you’re beginning to wonder if you can make it until then. Even if you do manage to somehow miraculously pull this exam off, you still have two more exams to get through before the day is done. You begin to panic.
Sound familiar? If you’ve been through at least one semester of college this probably sounds all too familiar. It’s called “cramming” and everybody at one point or another does it. Usually, cramming happens most often around finals time, and it consists of waiting until the last possible minute to study for multiple exams or complete various papers or projects. Cramming leaves you overwhelmed and massively burnt out, but for some reason we do it over and over again. Let’s face it. There’s just not enough time in one day to go to class, go to work, and complete the nine hours of homework you have waiting on for you on your kitchen table. Sometimes cramming is the only available option.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid these homework burnouts and decrease the likelihood of another late night of Foldgers and flash cards. Follow these simple tips and strategies and you’ll be sure to make it through the semester without jumping off the roof.
1) Get Organized!
This is the first and most important tip for avoiding homework burnouts and cram sessions. Organization is the key to any successful college career and the sooner you begin this process, the better. Start with buying a planner or agenda book. At first you might feel like a nerd, but trust me, after a few weeks this book will become you’re new best-friend. Most colleges sell these at the campus bookstore, but you can also find cheap ones at just about any retail store like Wal-Mart or Office Max. It is important to buy a planner that has enough space under each day to write a good amount of information.
Next, get out your all of your class syllabi, work schedules, volunteer schedules, and whatever else you’ve got and transfer the information from these documents to your new planner or agenda book. Like many of you know, class agendas and work schedules often change, so make sure you update these in your planner as soon as they are made. Once you have all this information written neatly in your planner, circle or highlight the days when papers or projects are due or when mid-terms or other tests are scheduled. This allows these important dates to jump out at you at a glance and decreases the chance that they will slip your mind.
2) Make Lists
Lists are easy and simple to make and allow you to manage your time in the most efficient and effective way. Start by looking in your planner at the coming week ahead. Do you have any major projects due? Any free nights where you don’t have to work? Take all of this into account and start making a list of tasks you would like to accomplish for each individual day of the week. For example, if you see that Monday and Thursday are going to be the craziest days of your week and Tuesday and Wednesday seem pretty open, do most of your homework on Tuesday and Wednesday and save the other nights of the week for other smaller tasks. Also, don’t forget the weekends! Even though it is easy to get sidetracked on Friday’s and Saturday’s, keep in mind that these are perfect times to get a little homework done. Designating just a couple of hours at the library on Saturday afternoon, or committing to finishing three pages of your essay before you go out Saturday night can make a huge difference on the stress you will face during the coming week. It might be hard at first to get used to making daily lists, but in time you will see these simple lists will reduce the amount of wasted time in your daily life and actually allow you to have more free time.
3) Take Your Homework To Work Or To The Gym
This is a great way to accomplish two things at once; therefore allowing you to have more free time. Although not all of us are lucky to have jobs where we can sit and do our homework without many interruptions, everyone does get breaks. Break time is a great time to read a couple pages of your text book or brainstorm some ideas for your next paper. You can also read while you are at the gym. The treadmill, the stationary bike, and other pre-core machines come equipped with trays that hold your reading materials so that you can page through them easily while burning off a couple of calories in the meantime.
4) Don’t Allow Your Homework To Pile Up
This is perhaps the hardest rule to abide by. There are just some nights when the thought of reading another chapter out of your Cellular Mechanics makes you physically ill. Occasionally, it’s okay to blow off your homework for some much needed R&R, but don’t let it become a habit. Blowing off homework and letting it pile up into oblivion will most likely lead to a couple of nights of painful cramming and that’s exactly what you are trying to avoid. Instead, fight through the urge to watch another episode of “The Family Guy” and bust out those textbooks. Trust me, you’ll thank yourself for it later.
5) Find A Buddy
We all know how hard it is to go to the library and study when all your other friends are at home having fun. This is the number one reason college students blow off their homework and get sidetracked from their planned scholastic activities. In order to combat this inevitable situation, get together with your friends or roommates and schedule homework nights or trips to the library. There is power in numbers, and you will be ten times more likely to do your homework when other people are doing there’s.
Now, you should be able to successfully make your way through the semester with less burnouts and cram sessions than ever before. Good luck!