Well, fall term is over now…spring term is a-coming after Christmas. The easy life is ending, stress is beginning. That can only mean one thing – the looming year of textbooks, pens, highlighters, and soul crushing amounts of assignments and tests is fast approaching. It’s time for school. If you are like me, upon writing out your schedule for the coming year of school, you just sit there, wallowing in your academic stress, and stare at the evil pieces of paper (in my case a Post-it note, more on their life saving importance in the next article) before you, dreading the upcoming work.
Before you do something rash and potentially painful like cancelling your Netflix account, there are strategies to help keep the hounds of academic stress at bay – and it doesn’t even require knowing how to play a musical instrument to sooth the savage beast!
First, let’s talk scheduling. Ugh. I know. SO exciting, right? But seriously, this is one of the most successful and proven ways to help in keeping academic stress at a level that is productive rather than destructive. Wait…stress can be productive? Yes! Think of academics as an old time steam engine (stay with me on this metaphor tangent). Productive stress is the steady energy created by the steam. It pushes the train forward, keeping it going by conquering one assignment or goal at a time. Destructive stress, on the other hand, is like when the engine is so jammed packed with coal that the steam is at capacity levels and the train derails because it got overwhelmed. So, scheduling is a tool to help keep the train (you) full of productive levels of steam to kick ass and carry on.
One of the easiest way to get a schedule down and working to keep academic stress to a minimum is to find yourself one of those very large desk calendars. They are available at any big box store chain, or if you feel very fanciful and high-falootin’, there are very nice ones (code for expensive) at stationary shops as well. You can also find a variety of them from Amazon, like this At-A-Glance brand one for a good price. I almost always stick the basic white ones that are no more than ten dollars – I like the white because the color coding system I use with highlighters shows up the best. Yes. I said color coding. And yes. I am serious. Color coding. It’s the best thing for setting up a schedule since….the personal assistant, maybe? But who really has the budget for a personal assistant?
Color Code Your Way to Stress Relief!
So. You have your calendar. Awesome! And you have a pile of multiple different highlighters (and if you don’t, you can order some sharpies from Amazon). Double awesome! Ready to tackle this academic stress in your life AND get a chance to color things as an adult? If you answered yes, you are ready for a color coded schedule. First, it is important to break down the sections of your life – we are sticking strictly with academics right now – that need a designated color. One very natural way to go about this is to have a color for each class you are taking, as well as a separate color for any meetings you will have regularly scheduled and groups or organizations that you are a part of. That is the easiest and most effective way. I always write my commitments in pencil, that way if you run out of room or need to change a detail, it is easily fixed. A good way to write things into those beautifully large squares on your desk-sized calendar is to on the top, write in your class/classes for that specific day and on the bottom include other things that will be happening that day (club/organization commitments, meetings, study groups, etc.).
After writing that all in, now the fun begins – highlighting! Yay! The main object is to make sure that each thing has its own color and that color is exclusive to only that class or commitment written on your calendar. You MUST NOT change the colors, otherwise all of your organizing and harnessing of academic stress into something productive is for naught!
“But”, you might say, “I don’t want to have a paper calendar. It’s wasteful. It’s bulky. I can’t carry it with me. I want to manage my academic stress, but can’t I just have it on my phone instead?” Well of course you can! There is a dizzying array of calendar apps for both Android and iPhone – and you can color code with them too! Oh happy day!
Digital Calendars to Reduce Academic Stress
One of the best, and cheapest (FREE), since it is programmed onto the phone automatically at the factory for Android is the Google Calendar app. It’s no fuss, no muss, to the point. Plus, you can sync it up with other people’s calendars so you can share times and places for meetings or study groups or a change in plans can be easily spread throughout a group of people working together (something that would make group project work potentially nowhere near the migraine nightmare it usually is).
In my personal experience as an avid Android user for years now, the Google Calendar is extremely easy to use and it helps to keep my academic stress to a minimum and it keeps me productive. You can choose any form of reminder or notification – a day before, an hour before, even a week before. Plus, there is the ability to pin it directly to the screen of your phone in a widget form – mighty handy since no body’s got the time to scroll through their apps looking for their calendar and schedule.
Bear in mind though, if you choose to search for a different app within the Google Play Store (their app store), the free versions of the many that require you to pay will be nowhere near as effective or efficient as the version that will cost you a few dollars. In the long run, if you choose to not capitalize on the Google Calendar app and go with a different schedule app, it would be best to get the version that you have to pay for.
As far as the iPhone goes, it is the similar case. There is the factory included and preprogrammed calendar and scheduling apps for free and they are ready to use out of the box. But, if you are looking for something a bit more in-depth and “do-it-all”, there are many options. However, just like with the Android Google market, you are going to want to pay for the app instead of relying on the free version, because we all know how…well…spotty the free ones can be.
Academic stress can be a beasty that can make even the most noble of fighters who challenge it unprepared fall because of its fury. But, you now have a weapon to help you in beating back that monster – scheduling. And let’s not forget color coding (don’t knock it until you try it. Seriously. It’s amazing). If you start out with the basic tool of creating and keeping a schedule, you can tackle your academic stress and be ready for when the stress of midterms and finals peak up over the hill later on down the semester.