Time Management Tips to Reduce Stress

Written by: Graciana Truesdale, MSA ’24

Fall weather has officially set in and so has academic stress. Between class work, a job, familial duties and any other responsibilities one may have, mid-semester is normally when one’s stress level peaks. Not only do midterms start to take over all of your free time, so do group projects and other assignments you thought you could handle easily. The mental burden and psychological pressure begin to build as you have to become a master at prioritization. 

In addition to the stress that comes with this larger workload, the fall semester has an added factor that seems to make everything much bleaker – the coming of winter. The decreased sun exposure, the colder temperatures, the endless rain and darker mornings make it harder to get up every day and tackle the beast that your to-do list has become. 

In the beginning of the semester, everything to come in the semester seems less intimidating. Every syllabus outlines what you can expect from the course and the work you’ll have to do, so planning for everything ahead of time should be able to keep your stress to a minimum. As you have yet to attempt to tackle all the work and the semester is just getting started, you’ll have more energy and be more optimistic about handling it all. 

Half-way through the semester is when the stress starts to set in. The extra studying for midterms, incoming deadlines for projects, on top of your regular day-to-day routine means less free time. Where you might’ve had an extra hour or two a day to relax and engage in your hobbies, you now have barely any time to fix yourself a meal. This is where you should allow some serious planning and time management to step in and guide you through these extra stressful times. You could even keep up with extra activities and events so long as you plan accordingly. 

Once you reach the end of the semester though, things typically seem much different. Your attitude from the beginning to the end of the semester can even be compared to day and night. By the end of the semester, all the energy you had is gone and all of your class work seems so much more difficult. As the semester progresses and you get through the assignments, little by little your energy is sapped from you and your work seems never-ending. Factor in any responsibilities aside from the purely academic ones and the pressure just multiplies. The mental burden of completing everything and doing it well enough to pass can become insurmountable if not handled well. 

Many people find it easy to create and maintain a schedule. There are many online tools like Notion that really allow you to create a schedule that suits you by allowing all sorts of customization. The basic look of a Notion template can be pretty bland though, so if you aren’t into the designing process itself, maybe look for some free templates through a Google search. You can even find planner templates that you can download as a PDF and use on any device you want. If you aren’t into the idea of using Notion and are looking for something more straightforward and simpler to use, Google Calendar is another good option. As the main platform I use for maintaining my schedule, I can say that it is very helpful. 

If the thought of using a digital planner or schedule doesn’t appeal to you though, you can always purchase a physical one. There’s a wide variety of physical planners that have plenty of nice cover designs and freedom in regards to the contents. There are styles like the bullet journal, a weekly planner, a monthly planner, and some even extend not only annually but even further into the future. If you decide to possess a physical planner, it may help you stay more accountable. Regardless of the format you choose, make sure to really consider which kind would suit you and your habits best. 

When you have obtained your planner, there are a few things you need to consider when planning out your semester aside from your deadlines: 

  • What items or events should you prioritize? In order to engage in the event or complete that assignment, will it cost you a lot of energy or time, and is it mandatory that you engage in it? 
  • Are you able to complete a few smaller items or events ahead of time to afford yourself more free time and less burden later down the road? That extra free time can be afforded to working on one of your larger priorities and keep your stress to a minimum. It’s better to stress over one large project than one large project plus 3 smaller assignments. 
  • Think about what class work has been like in the past for you. Factor in your past experience when planning how you’ll tackle your work this semester. 
  • As previously mentioned, really consider whether you have the time to do all that you hope to. If something is not mandatory and is done by choice, contemplate whether taking on that extra responsibility will harm your other obligations. It is better to do fewer things and do them well, than to do more and not do it well? If those extra items or events are hindering your ability to do well in classes, then I would recommend rethinking your participation. Depending on where you are in your academic journey, whether you do well or fail a class can impact your academic standing and even force you to rethink pursuing your chosen major. 

Settling into a new semester and making it through the semester can be a daunting task. Whether you’re a junior, senior, graduate student or even a freshman, it can be hard to get into the swing of things. If you take control and ownership of your time through planning and scheduling though, you can make it through the semester, take on new pursuits and enjoy yourself. Take control of your time and leave no regrets!

Grace was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. She grew up as the youngest of five siblings with an older brother and triplet sisters all over a decade older than her. As she grew up, she was surrounded by animals ranging from dogs and snakes to birds and fish. She was also surrounded by art and creative influences. With this upbringing, it was expected that she earned a bachelor’s degree in studio art from the University at Buffalo. What was unexpected was that she also earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting. During her undergraduate program, Grace also worked part-time at Wegmans Food Markets. Not only did she get to improve her customer service skills, but she also had the opportunity to try working in different departments. These opportunities led to her developing a love for accounting. Immediately after this discovery, Grace decided to take on a bachelor’s degree in accounting and has plans to work in the accounting field for the foreseeable future. When she intends to relax, Grace can often be found reading. If she’s not reading, then she’s playing with her dog, Shadow. These activities alongside photography and spending time with her friends allow her to put in her best efforts in her work and academic endeavors.

Photo credit: Tom Wolf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *