As a graduate student, the end of the semester can come with mixed feelings. Excitement. Because you will finally be free and have a little break to rest and start fresh next semester. But you may also feel stress and overwhelm. Because everything HAS to get done by the end of the semester.
You may have final exams, papers to write, presentations to prepare, research to make headway on, and maybe tests to write. Not to mention other duties you have like tutoring, proctoring finals, and grading finals. That’s a lot!
It’s so easy to experience burnout during this time and shut down. But that is not what you are going to do this semester. This year, you are going to have a manageable plan. That starts right now. So that you won’t experience overwhelm and unnecessary stress. It is grad school, there will be some stress. You just have to figure out how to handle it! Now you have me to guide you along and help you come up with a strategy for success.
Why you Need a Strategy for the End of the Semester
You need to sleep. Getting a full night’s rest (whatever that means for you) will help you think more clearly and get things done at the end of the semester. I recently learned that when we sleep, our brain doesn’t shut down and also go into sleep mode. It’s actually the opposite. Sleep is actually an active time for our brains where a lot of processing, restoration, and strengthening occurs. Don’t we need all three of these to happen at the end of the semester?
A part of your end of semester strategy should include eating real food and actual meals. It’s so easy to “work, work, work, work, work” - Rihanna. And forget about fueling your body until it’s too late and you just grab quick snacks for sustenance. I don’t want you to do this! I want you to come up with a plan and a strategy that works for you so that you don’t forget to eat and you can have time to make (or buy) full and balanced meals for yourself.
One of the easiest ways to experience burnout is when you don’t make time for yourself. Having some time every week where you are doing something that you want to do and helps you recharge is so valuable. Especially at the end of the semester when it’s so easy to forget about yourself and charge full force into the finish line.
Related Video: What to do when you are feeling burnout in grad school
How to Create a Strategy for the End of the Semester
Start at the end: figure out exactly what will happen and what needs to get done at the end of the semester. Write a list of all final exams, papers, and presentations that you need to take, write, create, proctor, and/or grade. Are there any other things that you MUST get done by the end of the semester like applying for jobs or registering for a conference? Write those down too.
Prioritize your list: figure out which items on your list are most important to you. Of course all things on your list need to get done but some things hold more weight than others. Decide which 3 things are most important and put a star (*) by them.
Time Management: Determine how much time you need to prep, start, and reach the result of your top 3 goals/responsibilities. Can you start prepping for these things now?
Figure out what needs to get done now: Look ahead in your calendar and figure out what other assignments, projects, reports, classes, etc need to get done before you can start working on your list from step 1.
Plan: Now that you know what you need to get done, how long it will take, and the stuff that needs to get done first, you can actually schedule when you will do these tasks. I’ve created a pdf called the End of Semester Strategy Roadmap that will help you keep track of what needs to get done by the end of the semester as well a video that walks you through how to use it.
Now go forth and end this semester on high note! I know you can do it!