I’m totally going to be on top of my homework game this semester! We say it every year, and yet we never really make any improvements, do we? Like Tim Gunn says, we always seem to just make it work, no matter how unhealthy our lack of sleep or abundance of coffee may be.
But we say this year, you should stare down the barrel of the gun and actually make it happen — it being your positive homework habits, that is. To help you out, we have some suggestions, both old and new, that no joke are going to help you absolutely slay this semester.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
While we definitely don’t suggest eating adorable baby elephants (because, like, what?), the premise still stands. It’s super easy to get overwhelmed by your homework, especially when it sneaks up on you. It’s all fun and games until syllabus week ends, amirite?
Remember that you have to take your homework game one step at a time, whittling down your to-do list incrementally until it’s finally gone. Taking a look at the mammoth that’s in your agenda isn’t going to make you feel any better about your homework sitch; remembering to take it little by little definitely will.
And speaking of your agenda…
We sure as heck aren’t the first ones to suggest a rocking agenda at the start of a semester. Read any blog anywhere and you’ll find that most badass women keep at least a little journal with a to-do list or assignments list nestled in her bag or hosted on a productivity app in her phone. This can be you! And we won’t stop harping until you’ve got one.
It’s also important to remember that it’s not enough to just buy a planner, adorable prints be damned. In fact, it’s not even enough to use it. You have to use it well. Planners are super awesome when used a visual tools, helping to give you a snapshot of your day.
Try highlighting different commitments in different colors to make sure you’re giving equal parts of yourself to various priorities. Literally block of time slots to make sure you’re not double-booking and giving yourself adequate rest periods. Use check-marks to give yourself the satisfaction of getting sh*t done. (And hey, we won’t tell anyone if you add things you’ve already completed just to get the ball rolling, we swear.)
Make a reading journal.
Yes, even if it’s not required. Because how many times have you read a page exactly 96 times before you actually know what it said? Being a total space case while reading is totally normal, but still not super conducive to boosting that GPA. But you know what will help? Keeping a reading journal, even though you’re super disinterested in any kind of extra work.
Reading journals don’t have to be long or even really thought-provoking. They just need to help you remember the info you just read so you can store it in your memory better. Don’t feel like using flowery, academic language? Cool! Don’t! It’s actually way easier to teach stuff back to ourselves when we write in our own voices. You’ll be shocked you remember that fact about Napoleon because you compared him to the jerk frat boy down the hall from you.
Use the 24-hour rule for big projects.
This one sounds utterly ludicrous, but stick with us for a sec. The 24-hour rule is when you make sure you have all aspects of a project or an essay completed at least 24 hours before the due date. What does this do? Well, a couple of things.
First, it works as a back-up plan for unexpected disasters. Trying to bring your essay but the library is out of paper? Don’t worry, you have an entire 24 hours for them to add more or for you to go to another spot on campus. Turn in a project during office hours but realize you also need to hand it over on Blackboard or another project hosting site? No ish, girl, hop on your laptop before tomorrow morning and you’re golden.
Second, the 24-hour rule seriously emphasizes time management and keeps your from procrastinating. Like, literally, it’s impossible to do a project at the last minute when you make yourself have an entire 24-hour grace period before it’s over.
This is super important to making sure you’re putting your best work out there. Raise your hand if you’ve ever touted some nonsense about working well under pressure. Yeah, us too. But the truth is, when you have an extra day to think things over, you’re opening yourself up to all sorts of improvements and new ideas. You might have an epiphany and be able to open your essay with a super rad intro, or find a spelling error in your PowerPoint’s opening slide.
Actually use the strategies you’ve been telling yourself you’d use for years.
There’s a reason why you’ve heard over and over again, “use a white noise app!” It’s because listening to music without lyrics (or lyrics in another language or white noise) is seriously helpful when writing or reading. And why do we keep telling you to actually use the tutors at the academic support center? Because they’re free and free stuff is awesome and also because they can help you with your homework and make your projects better.
We get it. You hear this stuff all the time, haven’t done it, and still haven’t failed out of school yet. Good for you! But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, in your academic life or otherwise.
If you stop getting in your own way (read: stop ignoring super normal and useful advice), you take make important changes to your workflow, which is something you totally need to get used to for when you become a total ~*hustler*~ and slay the career game all day.