It's back to school time! And there are so many great courses. Maybe you got a little excited and got yourself a very, very busy class schedule.

Pirate in the rain shouting

If you're feeling overwhelmed, then fear not! By following a few simple strategies you can keep on top of it all.

You can do it!

First of all, get a planner.

Unless you have memory as a superpower, you're going to need to write things down. There are a lot of different approaches: pick the one that feels most comfortable for you.

  • Buy a physical planner diary. This is great if you like color-coding and post-it notes!

Blue accents planner with blue and orange pens. Photo by 2H Media on Unsplash

  • Use a digital calendar.

    If you have a Gmail account, you could use Google Calendar. It's free and it will sync with your email (meaning it will fill in the details for appointments agreed upon via email).

snapshot from the Google Calendare software

  • An alternative is to use the standard "Calendar" app on your smartphone.

    There are lots of calendar apps for both Apple and Android users.

Then, actually use the planner.

Whichever type of calendar or physical diary you choose, you must write all of your classes and other appointments in it.

That includes (but is not limited to!) lesson schedule, gym session, cinema trip, family gathering, board games meetup...anything and everything!

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If it's not in the schedule, it's likely you'll forget or double book yourself!

To avoid schedule mishaps, make sure to check your planner every morning and every evening. This way, you'll notice ahead if you need to re-shuffle your commitments.

What about homework assignments?

The key to managing a high workload is to prioritize and allocate time.

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  1. When the professor gives a homework assignment, write it down on the date it is due.

  2. Estimate how long the assignment will take, for example, three hours.

  3. Choose a free time slot in your schedule and assign it to that homework. It could be the full three hours, or it could be three slots of 1 hour each, or any other combination that works for you! Flaticon Icon

  1. Stick to your schedule. If something unexpected happens, re-schedule the task for another slot. Do not be tempted to think, "I'll just finish it up another time!"

  2. When you complete the assignment, tick it off your to-do list, or add a note to say that it is done.

  3. Feel the satisfaction!

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What are your priorities?

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It's important to know what the most important things to you are.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What makes me happy?

  2. What do I need to do to stay healthy?

  3. What people do I need to make sure I have time for?

  4. What activities have I committed to? (e.g. a sports team, part-time job)

The answers to those questions are your personal priorities. They take precedence over activities that you might like to do, but may not have time to do.

When you have a very busy class schedule, you'll need to be able to say "No" to activities that are not essential.

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A few more tips...

Schedule relaxation time. This is particularly important if you tend to overwork!

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Try to use bits of time that might otherwise be wasted. For example, practice revision flashcards while waiting for the bus, or catch up on emails while in line for lunch.

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If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious, seek support. Your college, university or school will have student support services that can help. You may also find it useful to chat with friends and family, and other people you trust.

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Can you help Robin plan their busy schedule?

Consider this situation:

It's Thursday, and Robin has two essays, a lab report and a book review due on Monday. They have promised their mum to go shopping together, and their best friend is having a party this weekend. They also need to get their laundry done or risk having nothing to wear next week! Robin is now feeling stressed and unsure how to complete everything.

What might be a good way for Robin to deal with the situation?

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A. Decide not to complete one assignment. It's ok, the professor will understand. They'll have more time to catch up on it next week!

C. Check their diary and assign a task to each period of time that's currently free. Robin also chooses to write the book review while waiting for the laundry to wash and dry.

B. Tell their mum they're just too busy this weekend and reschedule the shopping trip. They won't mind.

D. Robin decides to not go to their best friend's party. It is sad and disappointing, but there will be other parties.


Which option would help Robin successfully complete all their work?

Take Action

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