I went into last weekend knowing I was being a bit ambitious. It felt like all of my events clustered into one weekend, and I didn’t want to give anything up. Here’s what my ideal schedule looked like:
Let’s decode this a little bit…
- Friday: Midterm in the morning! So everything leading up to that was prep for the midterm. Then, I went on a retreat in Rhode Island from 1PM Friday till 5PM on Saturday. This retreat was a well-deserved break from the craziness that is Babson.
- Saturday: I returned from the retreat at 5PM feeling refreshed but also stressed and excited about the rest of the events for the weekend. I had dinner soon after coming back and then tried to get to work, but found myself distracted because I hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before. I was able to get some work done, but not much, and went to bed at around 11PM.
- Sunday: I had to get up bright and early Sunday morning at 6AM in order to be ready to board the bus at 7:30AM for the Intercollegiate Business Conference in Boston. I absolutely loved this conference, and got a lot out of it. By the time we returned at about 5PM, I only had about an hour and a half before I had to get ready to host for an overnight. During that time, I just needed to chill. It had been such a busy day, and I needed some time to myself. That night, I picked up my student and tried to do as much work as possible while she was doing other activities with her group. I ended up not sleeping until around 1AM because we were discussing Babson and my experiences so far. I don’t regret this at all, because I wanted my hostee to have a good and informative experience.
So, this left me with 6.5 hours of sleep (not ideal) and basically all of my work to do. I didn’t get anything done for any of my classes and I also had work to do for my work-study position. Needless to say, I was stressed.
To deal with this, I turned robot-mode for a little while. I tried to get as much done as possible to make sure that I can be prepared for the classes I had that day. I had to prioritize the thoroughness with which I would be able to do my assignments. For example, I didn’t spend as much time on my law reading knowing that we wouldn’t discuss it too much and I wouldn’t feel too lost during class without the examples in my head. I did, however, spend the time to read the chapters for our book for my Critical Inquiry class, because that whole class is comprised of speaking on the text. This ended up being a good idea, since I had a pop quiz on that reading.
That afternoon once classes were over, I had the whole next day of classes to worry about, as well as that work for my work-study to do. I didn’t have my usual morning workflow time on Tuesday morning because of my work study, so I knew I was tight on time. So, I prioritized and got my work-study work done first, then moved on to do as much of my coursework as possible for the next day.
I made sure to get to bed by 11PM so I could be productive the next morning.
I got up Tuesday and did my reading while eating breakfast, and crammed as much prep as I could into my 30-minutes I had between breakfast and work. I was able to get through all the pre-class work, somehow.
By Tuesday afternoon, I was finally caught up. But, needless to say, it was extremely stressful and my mental and physical health suffered.
I don’t do this often. In fact, this is the first time something like this has happened since coming to college. Here are the lessons I learned (or re-learned from this experience):
- Be realistic with myself. I knew going into the weekend I was being ambitious, but I wasn’t being realistic with myself on what I could do while maintaining my mental health. I enjoyed everything I did, but I should have either prepared better by getting ahead during the week, or taken something off my plate.
- Weekend prep time is valuable. I usually take the time to prepare for the week by doing 1-2 days of homework ahead of time, as well as preparing myself mentally and physically by planning, reflecting, and organizing my physical space.
- Prioritization is key. I think the only thing that got me through that hectic time was my ability to prioritize. I didn’t let the work overwhelm me by looking at it all at once; I was able to step back, prioritize, then focus on the next priority one at a time.
If I could re-do last week, I would have carefully examined what work I had to do over the weekend and create a time-estimation for how long it would take, then work that time into my schedule for the next few days before the weekend started. Work expands to fill the time allotted; if I would have created a deadline to get it done before Friday morning, perhaps I would have been ahead enough to not be stressed the following week.
My hope is that if you find yourself in this kind of situation, you take a step back, breathe, and prioritize. That’s the best thing you can do. I urge you not to sacrifice on sleep (everyone is different, but as a general rule, try not to get less than 6 hours) because when you sacrifice on sleep you sacrifice on productivity in the end.
And second, take this as a cautionary tale to be realistic, plan ahead, and not overwhelm yourself. I personally would rather take the time during the weekend to prep for my week sufficiently to be less stressed during the week, than do nothing during the weekend and be stressed all week. Planning ahead is key.