Trying to manage everything in your life is hard enough, but it becomes even harder when you are trying to be successful at the college level. Stress can keep you from succeeding, so finding ways to manage stress is essential. Throughout my college career, I had to develop different methods of handling the stress caused by juggling homework deadlines, leisure time, relationships, and sometimes work.
While my methods won't work for everyone, they are a guideline to developing your own methods of handling stress. I found that two things greatly reduced my stress: buying a planner and avoiding procrastination. These are a few ways that you can manage your stress level, achieve better grades, and have a better college experience.
Buy a Simple Planner
Stress can be so overwhelming that, at times, it seems like there is nothing you can do to handle it. Believe it or not, there is one small, simple tool that can make all the difference. That tool is a simple day planner. Having a planner is a valuable, yet simple, tool that can be used when managing your life. When everything you need to do is laid out in one simple book, it is easier to prioritize and manage your time. I know every college student is on a budget, but you can pick up a cheap, simple day planner at Walmart or your local dollar store.
Once you have your planner in hand, write down test dates, homework due dates, important events, and social engagements. This will allow you to see everything that needs to be done in any given week. The hardest part, the part that I can't help you with, is deciding which things are the most important. If it makes it easier, take a highlighter and highlight the things that need to be done first.
Once you have finished homework, taken a test, or attended an event, cross them out so that you know that they have been finished. Doing this can give you a small sense of accomplishment and will allow you to see what you have yet to finish. Having a planner will also be very valuable in preventing procrastination.
Avoid Procrastination at All Costs
There are always more fun things to do than study, but finishing homework on time and preparing for exams will significantly reduce your amount of stress. Think about it, if you have an eight page paper due by Friday, waiting until Thursday to start it will place you under a tremendous amount of stress. If you go to take a test and you only started "cramming" the night before, you will probably be too stressed to do well on the test.
You will probably lose sleep, you might not finish, or you might make more mistakes. Even people that manage to do well with this method are under way too much stress. To avoid this headache, make sure you record homework and test dates in your planner. Look at what else you have recorded that week, and then prioritize. For easier homework assignments, finish them the day before they are due. For more difficult assignments, assignments that will take several days, work on them a little each day.
For long papers, start writing the number of days in advance that correspond to the number of required pages. Start writing an eight page paper, for example, eight days before it is due. This will allow you to not only portion out enough time to write one page per day, but you will also have enough time for other homework, friends, or leisure time. You will no longer have to try to cram eight pages into one night. Follow a similar method for tests. Start studying a little each day. For more difficult exams, you might need to study longer each day. It will make the day of the test much less stressful because you spent the week preparing for it.
During one of the most important times of your life, reducing stress is essential to your overall success. While some stress can be good, too much stress is bad. Adapting these two simple tips to your college experience can mean the difference between scholastic achievement and failure. If you are under a lot of stress, go buy a planner, and start writing down your life.