End Of Semester Scramble: Are You A Victim?

It’s that time again.  Your current classes are ending, you have a whole new timetable to look forward to, and everything should be great and fun, right?  There’s just that one problem that, no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t avoid.

Possibly it was because of work you’d forgotten about until the last minute, or maybe you’d been ill for a couple of weeks.  Perhaps if you’re really unlucky you were without a tutor for some of the time.  Or maybe you’ve just been distracted by all sorts of other, more interesting things, went on holiday with a pile of work left to do, then couldn’t get started again in the new year.

This is the point that makes or breaks you as a student (or would if there were any real physical harm involved!).  Welcome, to the End of Semester Scramble!

What it is, and Why it’s Important.

Semester Scramble is caused by these two things:

  • You have less than two weeks left of your semester

AND

  • You have more than one or two pieces of work left to finish

It can have a negative effect on your self-esteem, prevent you from doing the things you enjoy, and hang round your neck like a chain.  At the moment, I think it’s fair to say that there’s quite a large number of us (myself included, I feel your pain!) in this boat.

Here’s why it’s important to get as much of it done by the end of the Semester as possible:

  • In the Second Semester, classes always start much sooner than they do in the first Semester (there’s no need for further introductions).
  • There’s a higher workload in the Second Semester in general.
  • Sometimes you’ll be asked to build on work you did in the first Semester.
  • If you’re granted an extension on your work, you’d have a much higher workload than everyone else (and a higher likelihood of producing sub-standard work).
  • Stress.  Psychologically, knowing that you have more work that you have to finish by the end of the year and that you’re late on can feel like an anvil being held over your head at all times.  Your pulse will quicken, you’ll start to sweat whenever you think about the work, and all the fun will get sapped out of your course (and by extension, you) leaving a dry husk of unhappiness.  Let’s avoid that shall we?

You Won’t Blame Yourself.  Or Else.

Despite my best efforts, I’ve been here a few times over the last three years.  First off, being here doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lazy; you could have underestimated the time it’d take you to finish certain tasks, you may have spent too much time perfecting one element of the course and the rest has suffered, there’s a huge list of reasons.  They don’t matter; we’re not here to blame.  If I catch anyone with their head in their hands blaming themselves for falling so far behind (unless you really did sit and do nothing all semester), well, there will be bad things.  Yeah.

Joking aside, I have a plan to get us all out of this.  There are four steps to it, each simple, but each requiring a bit of work.  Following through all of them will help though, I promise.

The Intelligence

Planning, love it or hate it, it will get you out of this tight spot.  Rather than banging on and giving you a huge pile of text to read, here are my bullet points.  Follow as many of them as you can:

  1. Gather everything you have from the first semester that tells you what you need to submit
  2. Make a list of everything you haven’t already completed and handed in
  3. On that list, write down how complete each item is
  4. For the things that are half finished or more, put the materials for them to one side neatly and ignore them for now.
  5. Write down the requirements for everything else on your list
  6. From those requirements, break your list into smaller chunks (See the links at the bottom of this post for help doing this)
  7. Write down how long you need to spend on everything on your list (including the half finished stuff)
  8. Write the date of the end of your semester at the top of your page

The Groundwork

Now that we know exactly what we have left to do, we need to schedule it in before the end of the semester.  Don’t Panic.  If you’re used to using Calendars and so on, feel free to use your own method.  For everyone else, here’s what we need to do:

  1. Write a promise to yourself that you will stick to whatever schedule you make for the rest of the semester
  2. Get a Calendar.  If you don’t have one, consider using an online Calendar System (see links below, I use Google Calendars) or you can write your tasks on a piece of paper.
  3. For every day of the week, write down class times and work commitments.
  4. With the time that’s left, write down two half hour slots per day for relaxing and having fun.
  5. From 12 midnight until 7am block out time to sleep (I don’t care when you normally sleep, we’re doing this until your work is finished.  Just remember, I have to follow this as well).
  6. Block out half hour time slots for meals, including breakfast.  (Breakfast will be soon after waking up, say about 7.30am at the latest)
  7. Leave half an hour in the mornings to get up, dressed, etc.

The Plan

You should now have a mostly filled timetable for the next few weeks, this is a good thing.  Just go with it for now, you’ll see why in a minute.

  1. Look at your list of tasks now; How many of your half done tasks can be completed in class time?  Block them in to their respective lessons.
  2. If you have any half-finished tasks left over, then block them into the morning from 8am (for half an hour or an hour) or just after your dinner slot, depending on what you can manage.  Make sure these are as close to your schedule start time as possible.
  3. Leave Your Saturdays Clear!  We’ll be using these a little later, for now don’t even think about touching them (unless you already work, of course).
  4. For your other tasks, allocate time for them either in class (if you have a lot of available class time) or in the hour after classes each day.
  5. If you still have tasks left over, then leave a break between a work/catchup slot of about half an hour, then schedule in another hour for them.

Your schedule should be busy, but not crammed completely full.  If it is, go back through it, and take out some of the tasks.  We’re not trying to melt our brains!

The Execution

So we have a schedule, and we have our promise to stick to the schedule.  Here’s a few more tips that you can incorporate if you’re looking for ways to finish more efficiently.

  • Batch your Research.  Hopefully you won’t still have this to do, but if you do, try to do all of it in the same one or two slots.  From every class/assignment, I mean.  Once you get into the swing of researching, it’s better to do as much of it as you can while you’re in the mindset.
  • If you have reports to write, consider going through them and writing headings for each section first, and possibly a summary of what each section should contain.  This will make writing them up easier after you have your research.
  • If you have models/artwork/comparable projects to complete, take your time with them.  You’re already late, so you might as well make them good quality (while, of course, trying your hardest to finish them on time).
  • Make sure that you let your tutors know that you’re struggling to complete work.  Depending on your relationship with them, you may get a talking to, but it’s a better solution than showing up on the last day and saying you haven’t done it.  Show them your schedule too, they may have a few pointers or suggestions.
  • If you accidentally underestimate how long a task will take to finish, and you really need it done by the next week – use a little bit of time on your Saturdays.  Give yourself an extra hour to finish it, and see how far you get.

Conclusion

You didn’t get into this mess overnight, so you’re not going to get out of it overnight.  With these steps, you’ll have a plan for getting out of it within the next week or two (or more, depending on the amount of work).  Do not try to cram everything in at the last minute, and don’t over-work yourself too badly or you’ll have no energy for the next semester anyway.

All I can say is I wish you the best of luck.  Go forth, finish your work, I’ve faith in you!

I’ll see you again on Wednesday with the next part of the Feathers tutorial, though if you’re really busy you should consider skipping it this week.  I won’t hold it against you. 😉

Link List:

Mindset

What Are You Putting Off?  How To Get On With It In 3 Steps – Dumb Little Man

Getting Things (Re)-Started: Dealing With Mental Blocks – LifeHack

Coming Back From The Holidays: How To Get Back To Work – Freelance Switch

Productivity

The Little Rules Of Action – ZenHabits

Done: Reduce Task Friction to get to Task Completion – ZenHabits

Begin Your Work Day at the End of It – Work Awesome

7 Must Read Productivity Steps to Finally Getting Things Done – Dumb Little Man

Process:

Get More Done With Batch Processing – Work Awesome

Online Calendar Management Roundup: How Do You Plan Your Days? – Dumb Little Man

20 Tips For More Efficient Google Searches – Dumb Little Man

23 thoughts on “End Of Semester Scramble: Are You A Victim?

  1. Eric

    Great article, Heather!

    I wish I had something like this in mind when I was back in High School. I did a lot of things that got me into some tight spots with assignments and had to cram things into the last minute.

    You’re a good writer and you make it really easy to get into what you’re saying. You also give great points and a include how to go about achieving things easily broken so anyone can understand.

    I’m Re-Tweeting this one!

    I’ll be back! 🙂
    .-= Eric´s last blog ..Pop Posts =-.

    Reply
    1. TylinaVespart

      Woah. Colour me honoured. I’m glad you found it useful 🙂 And thanks for the Retweet!

      I think being late (or nearly late) on assignments is something a lot of us can relate to lol. Started following my own schedule for today, seems to be working fine, although getting up at 7am was a challenge 😛

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention End Of Semester Scramble: Are You A Victim? | The 3D Student -- Topsy.com

  3. Eleanor Edwards

    Hi Heather,
    Students sleeping between midnight and 7am? Whatever happened to pulling all nighters to get the work done? I’m kidding of course … your schedule is much more gentle (yeah right, tell that to my brain cells you’re thinking ;)) and kinder to your body than staying up all night to work.

    Have you been getting feedback about this site from some of your fellow-students because I agree with Eric, you have a great style and it would be a shame to waste it on us bloggers 😉

    Eleanor
    .-= Eleanor Edwards´s last blog ..Day 14 in the Give A Brick House =-.

    Reply
    1. TylinaVespart

      Thanks Eleanor!

      Lol, its actually a totally different time of day than I’m used to sleeping; I tend to follow the more normal student timeline of being awake until 1-2am then sleeping til 10am (8am with protest if I have class 😉 ). Its an alien concept for me too, but I’ve seen enough proof that it works before lol.

      I am actually getting some feedback, but at the moment none of them seem to like actually commenting =P I don’t mind talking to you lot though 😀

      Reply
  4. Mr Huges

    Rather good piece,

    To be honest, I wish i could comment more about it but, upon reading this, the one thing going through my head is mainly:

    Oh god, Oh god, Oh god [and repeat]
    Nonetheless, useful

    Reply
  5. Mr Hughes

    Sadly not, unfortunatly i have been tempted to take up max again [Thanks, Just a ANOTHER thing to get in the way of my audio stuff!

    And why panic?, it’s instinctive, What can i say ? 😀

    Reply
      1. Mr Hughes

        You’ll like that i think, depending on what you do, If you get llet into the studio’s, My god your in for a treat, Anyway, Myself, peronally i compse music [[ you should have heard some of my old stuff already] but with reguards to the college, it’s a lot more, Recording based, sound effects, instruments etc etc, One thing i can say, My audio stuff is a hell of a lot better then my puny attems at max 😀

        Reply
        1. TylinaVespart

          Waaaaaiiiiit a minute, I know you. lol. I think we are getting into the studios, we get four hours on Mondays with James Bisset (know him?). Glad to hear you’re getting along well with it 🙂 Have to research audio at the moment as well for a report, that’s less fun.

          Anyway, go play with Max if you want; it’s worth it if you take the time.

          Reply
          1. Mr Hughes

            James is the Oracle, If you require helpp with your report feel free to come hit me round the head, i’ll eventually relise your wanting help 😀

            The sum of my play abouts with max have mostly been, opening max, attemping to remember what i was tought in HNC games, failing, then going back to FL studio and composing more stuff 😀

          2. TylinaVespart

            Sweet 😀 I may have to come bug you later then, because the internet is not helping with the whole ‘why is it important’ thing.

            Haha ^^ well, there’s a lot to be said for sticking to what you enjoy/are good at.

    1. Mr Hughes

      LOL at the internet *anger*, i’ve done a lot since i last let you hear some stuff, anyway, hows the course going?

      Also, at some point i’ll put together some stuff i found useful when teaching myself audio stuff, Well, that is, When i stop running around like a headless chicken 😀

      Reply
      1. TylinaVespart

        Lol, I’ll bet ^^ nice to hear you’re doing well. The course is ok, just trying to finish off my stuff before the end of the semester… Have a two week extension as well thankfully, so I should be ok.

        Hehe, start a blog about it 🙂 They’re fun, and you learn so much doing it.

        Reply
          1. TylinaVespart

            Hey, we needed it lol. Every single one of us 🙂

            What’s so wrong with having a blog? lol. You’d probably enjoy it more than you think to be honest, but it’s up to you.

  6. Get Timeline

    I love your blog.. very nice colors & theme. Did you design this website yourself or did you hire someone to do it for you? Plz reply as I’m looking to create my own blog and would like to know where u got this from. thanks a lot

    Reply

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