How to use downtime to get and stay ahead, editorial by Online Editor David Fejeran

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Let’s start with the bad news. This semester is going to get a lot harder than it currently is. You are going to take quite a few tests, complete writing projects, and before you or I know it, the stress of finals week will once again be upon us. It’s going to get much worse from here. These first few weeks of the semester will give you the least amount of worries and tribulations than any other point until May. The fact that right now is the least stressful time of the semester is some of the best news I can give you.

A new semester marks the beginning of a new educational endeavor for you, one that will challenge you, demand the best of you, and make you want to give up from time to time and binge watch Netflix instead of completing that big project. Whether you are a first-year student getting used to the college experience or a senior finishing your last semester, your work is cut out for you in the next few months.

This is why these first few weeks are crucial. The first few weeks are the ones where you don’t have to worry about any tests or major projects and when most everyone (including professors) are just getting back into the swing of things. At this point, you are probably getting into the swing of things, too. However, if possible, get ahead in your work in every way that you can while you still have the free time to do so.

I know that for many of you, this is the last thing that you want to do. Because there isn’t that much you have to do and not that many responsibilities you have to fulfill, you want to savor the moment while it lasts. You know that the future will be difficult, and merely thinking about the future stresses you out. However, there are multiple reasons why you should look toward future assignments, and start today.

First, it is a great way to get your life organized. While you have the opportunity, take advantage of the time you have to develop a system of planning and organizing the many responsibilities you have. Get a daily planner. Start developing a routine that includes study time, work time, relaxing time, and social time. If you start off disorganized, it will be harder to switch to an organized method after you have become used to a system that doesn’t maximize your work output.

Second, it will give you a head start on major projects and deadlines while other students wait until the last minute. We’ve all been in a situation where we feel like we’re running out of time on a major project or presentation, so we stay up until four in the morning cranking out material of which we could be more proud. Staying up until four in the morning should only be done if you’re watching a YouTube marathon while eating Pizza Pockets, not for cramming in assignments. The more you work on those big projects now, the more late nights you can spend watching conspiracy theory videos and the fewer late nights you have to spend writing about Charles Andrain’s Four Core Problems of Civilization.

Third, and most importantly, it will make the future that much easier to take charge of. Take me, for example. I’m currently a student teacher teaching history at the high school level. I don’t jump into teaching lessons full-time from day one; I’m spending the first week and a half observing the classroom, the next week and a half teaching lessons part-time, and the rest of the semester teaching full time. Right now, my life is relatively stress free. However, I know for a fact that at around week nine, I will break down crying when I meet with Rocky’s other student teachers because the job I’m doing requires so much responsibility and causes that much stress.

That’s why these first few weeks, I’m getting ahead on my lesson plans, assessments, and assignments while I can. This will make the hardest part of the semester quite a bit easier to manage. Similarly, if you’re also the type of person who sheds hair and tears alike when you have thirty hours of work in a twenty-four hour day, take advantage of the time that you have now.

It’s going to suck. I know. But the more you do now, the less your work load is going to suck when everyone else around you is panicking to meet the deadline.

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