With finals quickly approaching, we are yet again reminded of the importance of efficiently managing our time to avoid unnecessary stress. As an avid procrastinator, I have spent many late nights in the library at the end of the semester to finish final projects that I’ve actively put off until the last minute. They say you learn best from your mistakes, and since I’ve failed to learn anything about avoiding procrastinating, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes to prevent late semester stress. Here are a few things I do as a procrastinator that you should avoid doing in order to better manage your time as a graduate student.

Don’t convince yourself you can just do your work later

When people ask me why I put off my assignments for so long, my favorite response is that I want to wait until I am older and therefore wiser so I can offer my best work. I hope I don’t have to explain why this is problematic, but for those of you who feel similar to myself about putting off their schoolwork, I’d highly recommend utilizing your free time when you have it. You never know what might come up in the future that could disrupt the free time you may have thought you had to get your work done. Free time in grad school is often hard to come by, especially since most grad students I know have jobs outside the classroom which is why it’s so important to take advantage of the time when you have it.

 

Plan ahead

I hate to be that guy to tell you to read your syllabus, but somebody’s gotta do it. This is the best way to make sure you’re on top of your assignments and able to develop a plan of attack to knock out your assignments. Those of you who have been in graduate classes know that a lot of your assignments are extremely time consuming so it’s pivotal you give yourself enough time to complete your work. Or you could be like me, not read the syllabus, and find out the day of your exam that you have a test over a book you didn’t even know you had to read.

 

Don’t forget to take time for yourself

I know I said you should utilize your free time for your assignments but do yourself a favor and make sure you’re saving some time each week for yourself to decompress. Do something nice for yourself. Spend a little extra money on a nice meal or go bowling with your friends if that’s what tickles your fancy. Grad school is stressful enough, don’t make it harder on yourself. Make sure to check on yourself from time to time so you can avoid feeling completely burnt out by the end of your semester.