This is dedicated to the break that has come, and gone before I could put my sunglasses on. Wow, it's August. I was told that everything would be different once I graduated, "grad school is less stressful"-THEY. They were not being completely honest, there is a lot more freedom to do well, or not do well. I've realized whether I'm entering a new semester or starting a new position it is critical to be on the mark and ready, before the referee of life points the flare in the air and yells, "GO!" I gather my life about once a month, reshuffling to make sure I'm prioritizing correctly and staying on track. Before, I wasn't able to prioritize because I didn't understand where I was starting; I was just trying to keep up. It's been a huge transition, on the first day I get full assignments plus work everyday; which has made a solid foundation vital. The best way for me to establish my foundation is by preparing myself to have priorities. I wish that I knew what I know now a few years ago.
I started the process of pre-preparing my senior year of college. I spent three consecutive years [freshman, sophomore and junior year] becoming overwhelmed and under-rested only a month into the semester. When I began to pre-prepare I was able to not only do the things I needed and wanted to do, but I was able to be more successful when I did them. I made myself one promise -- to finish strong and do what I needed to do to prepare for graduate school. I became really intentional. I committed to changes that made being a student, taking the GRE (Graduate Record Examination), choosing universities, keeping up with extra-curriculars and maintaining my health a possibility. I walked through the doors of a head start, I had access to ALL ALONG; a head start we all have access to. Here are the three things I pre-prepared and committed to, that made all the difference:
1. Prepared my calendar, with what I knew.
Prior to my teacher's posting or distribution anything I used all the information I had:
- Class and work schedule
- Finals, I looked them up on the Registrar's website
- All of the university recognized off-days for the year (Labor Day, Finals Week, Last-Day of Classes, etc.)
- Any meetings I wanted/needed to attend
2. Generously made my schedule.
The worst feeling was having an unexpectedly, jam-packed day. Planning my schedule generously up front rescued me from being caught off guard. I was able to be realistic about what I could and couldn't commit to. Be honest with yourself, if you have to let something go.
- Create my schedule with extra study time built in*
- Curate any additional responsibilities and commitments from the previous point
- Anticipate more time for everything: travel time, involvement, hair drying.. everything
*It's recommended that you spend two to three hours per credit hour on material outside of the classroom.
3. Committed to a non-negotiable activity.
I like running; this is my non-negotiable activity. I pledge to myself to do this consistently, regardless of anything else coming up; or if I don’t have it planned for the day, if I needed to run I made time for it. This became my non-negotiable because I would push it to the back burner when I had a lot going on, and my life would transform from busy to bad.
Whatever activity brings you peace commit to not let it go; regardless of where the semester, work week, life, etc. takes you. I'm sure there's something like that for you; if not yet, it'll reveal itself!