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Organizing tips to keep you ahead this semester

By Katie McWilliams
On January 23, 2014

While syllabus week may seem like the ideal time to slack off and take advantage of the slow pace and limited homework, it's the best time to get organized for the rest of the semester. Being productive is, more than anything, about habit. If you get into a routine that allows you to accomplish all your work, exercise, eat three meals a day and socialize, you'll find that you can make everything happen, even when your work load increases mid-semester. Take advantage of your free time during the next few weeks and maximize your productivity for the rest of the semester. You'll be more on top of things and less stressed.
1. Don't use the first two weeks of the semester to slack off. Your work might not pick up for a few weeks, but those third and fourth week exams, papers and projects will come up fast. Get a head start on them or at least budget time to complete them on time. There's nothing worse than leaving 200 pages of reading until the day before an exam. Stay on top of your work while you have free time and spare yourself the cram session. Additionally, research has proven that consistent studying over a long period of time is the only way to thoroughly master the material. If you study each subject for 15 minutes every day you'll ease the burden of studying for exams.
2. Use this time to plan your semester. It might seem daunting to schedule an entire 14 weeks, but it's worthwhile. Use a calendar or a smartphone app to organize the dates of exams, papers, projects and other major assignments. Look at the distribution of these assignments and look to see if they are concentrated over a certain period of time. You might find that you have two papers and an exam in one week and in this case you'll be glad you figured it out sooner rather than later. With this information you can plan study days and off limits weekends where you focus on studying rather than social activities.
3. Make a daily routine and stick with it. Because productivity is the result of habit, use the first two weeks of the semester to establish a solid routine. Make a schedule with time allocated for classes, studying, working out, social time and activities. If you stick to your plan in the first few weeks of school you'll be likely to follow though during the rest of the semester.
4. While the end of the semester may seem far away, it's never too early to plan for summer internships. Many internship applications opened in January and are still accepting applicants. The process of applying for an internship can often be time consuming and using the extra time at the beginning of the semester is a sure way to make sure you have it all done. Furthermore, take advantage of the Center for Career Development's many resources and schedule résumé, cover letter and interview critiques to be better prepared.
It often seems challenging to be motivated at the beginning of the semester but if you start now and get organized you'll be happy you did.

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