Okay. So. You’ve got a breather now that it’s Holiday break. Woot! But, soon you’ll start to notice the Mount Doom of work that is piling up before you and it is separating you from the freedom of winter break. It keeps growing by the day – quizzes on top of required readings on top of papers on top of pages of assignments to turn in. You’re knee deep in midterm stress and feeling like you’re sinking fast. This article will have info to help you out, however. If you took the advice from the article on getting rid of academic stress, you will already be well aware of how a schedule is a person’s best friend in tackling academic stress; midterm stress in no different.
One of the most successful ways to help keep the avalanche of work smothering you in a flurry of paper and school supplies is using a system of breaking down the larger assignments into smaller chunks that are easier to conquer and vanquish. If let’s say you have a large paper due, a good way to break down the giant assignment would look something like this:
- Research the topic and find the information that works the best
- Organize your sources list for quoting and citing
- Document and organize the quotes or statistics needed from the information for the paper
- Write a rough draft and revise after stepping away for a day or two
- Re-write the thesis and create a second draft
- Edit for grammar and polish the paper
- Turn it in
Adding this example up, there are six steps to writing a larger paper (seven including turning it in). That is TOTALLY do-able. And it makes midterm stress dominatable. It is important to remember to plan far enough in advance so the smaller chunks of the larger assignments can be done at a steady pace, one at a time; otherwise, you’ll end up cramming all the steps into one week…or worse…one day before it is due.
But, how does one keep these smaller chunks organized? Excellent question! If you remember me alluding to the importance of Post-it notes in the previous article on getting rid of academic stress, now is the time for them to shine in all their organizational glory. Woohoo!
Chunk your work to avoid Midterm Stress
The key in keeping midterm stress at bay and all of these smaller chunks you’ve made in breaking down your assignments is that ever fabulous way of organizing – color coding! You’ll need to gather up Post-it notes (using various colored Post-its that you can get from Amazon) in the same colors as the highlighters that you have used in color coding the various classes, meetings, and various other academic responsibilities or commitments on your calendar. This is the important part in creating continuity and a quick way for you to glance at your schedule and see what’s coming up during midterms (and the entire semester, in all honesty).
For each of the colors, you should have the title of the assignment and the due date written into your calendar. With the Post-it notes, write down the breakdown of the assignment. How does one do that? Ask yourself what needs to be done first, second, etc. or ask yourself what potentially are the most important parts need to be finished before the rest are. For each step or part that you think of, write it on a Post-it note.
Now, the next important step is to be sure to keep all the Post-its together and in order. One way is to keep them in a stack and stick them near the calendar. Another way, and this takes a bit of space, is to stick them one by one in order on a wall or the side of a bookcase or a cork board. Either way is perfectly okay. Or if there is a system that you find works even better for you – rock on! But, the important thing is this: when a step in complete, remove that Post-it note. There is a wonderful satisfaction in pulling down and crumpling up a Post-it note after the task is complete. It’s near therapeutic, in the midst of all the midterm stress you’re swimming in.
What if you want to use this Post-it color coding system, but you stick strictly to the world of electronics and the interwebs? No worries! There is a virtual solution for you! On most computers and tablets and smart phones there are apps where you can write notes to yourself; more often than not, these already exist on the calendar app that you are using to help keep not only academic stress but your midterm stress to a minimum. You are using a calendar, right? Right?! Good!
These notes you type up can frequently be color coded to match the colors that are being used on the virtual calendar – a glorious time and sanity saver.
Self-care to avoid midterm stress
With all this talk of organizing midterm stress and academic stress so that the giant Mount Doom of work is manageable and conquerable, a few words needs to be said about burn out and just right out short circuiting from doing too much for too long. It is so so SO important to remember to take care of yourself. There is no point in working this hard for an education if you end up so burnt out that you want nothing to do with your academics and take off to underwater basket weave at a commune in Boca Raton, Florida.
Relaxation and self-care are essential for managing midterm stress and academic stress in general. Make time to go do things your like and that relax you – bowling, hiking, reading at a coffee shop, baking, LARPing, showing ferrets at national ferret show competitions; anything and everything that helps you to unwind is a great thing to do and to remember to do. Even if it is just sitting down and doing nothing but relaxing like this chill-ass moose – do it! Enjoy your momentary time away from academics.
And for self-care, it isn’t about showering regularly (though, please do that as a courtesy to those who have to be around you). It is about making sure that you eat, sleep, and just take general care of the machine that is kickin’ ass and takin’ names and roundhouse kicking midterm stress’s bootay that is your body. Getting run down and sick is the worst; it takes FOREVER to bounce back. Avoid that happening by listening to your body. If you’re tired, rest. That work will be there when you are more alert. If you are hungry, eat. No one can think clearly and quickly on a hangry stomach. You should never neglect yourself for the sake of getting an assignment done. I’ve found Clif’s Bars (sold at Amazon) are a good snack/pick me up…but remember: they’re full of calories. Sure they’re better than candy bars, but remember moderation.
Midterm stress is never fun. Never. Ever. But, by keeping up a color coded calendar and expanding that organization to include color coded notes breaking down larger assignments, it can be less daunting and overwhelming. When academics are less stressful, you become less stressful and you can enjoy things besides school work and have a fuller life – woot!