Time Crunch!

People-sleeping-in-the-library02Last week was full of professional deadlines and next week is going to be even busier while exams are just 9 weeks away. It is a major crunch and I wonder how to manage it.  The first quarter of the calendar year is usually rather quiet professionally but not this year. The projects I am working on are very exciting and stimulating but they require a lot of time. With just a few weeks to go before my first exam and a mountain of secondary reading on my desk, it feels like I need to regroup a bit to be sure my study outcomes stay on schedule.

My schedule is almost exhausting right now. Ironically, my study usually benefits from a time crunch but these few weeks are a little more hectic than usual. This weekend I used some time to work out how to stay on track at this critical study time and meet all of my professional deadlines with my best work.

After each study session, I feel satisfied with my work even if I am a bit behind in my secondary reading and I still have some primary texts on my reading list. When time is limited, I like to look for synergies. Even if I do not have as much time as I would like to dedicate to study, there are things about my work that benefit my studies.

For example, I write a lot in my job. Right now, my professional projects require a lot of writing. That gives me a chance to practice essay-writing skills even if I am writing on other topics.  Today it made me laugh to realize how much my approach to writing has changed during the time I have worked on my degree.  Relying on the things I learned about organization, writing, and research in degree study help my professional performance every day. Writing every day is excellent discipline for any kind of exams. While I feel confident in my ability to express myself in exams, I now need to worry about having a sufficient knowledge base in each course.

During the coming week, I will focus on secondary reading and linking what I learn directly to primary texts.  The best way to go about that is not necessarily to sit down with a stack of secondary texts. Sometimes it helps to focus on primary texts, notice particular things that can help me build arguments, and research those selected issues.

My plan is to set short goals and write more.  I have to be sure to use the available time to make progress.  That means thinking about my exam strategy and staying focused on what our Study Guides identify as learning outcomes. Internalizing the targeted learning outcomes boost my confidence and keeps my research and writing focused. It helps me be flexible with the texts I study and I think give me more options as exams approach.

Ready or not, another very busy workweek will start soon, and exams will be another week closer.  Being so busy at work right now might be just the thing to narrow my focus and settle into serious preparation for my last exams.

Right now both sets of responsibilities are equally pressing and equally important.  How much sleep do I really need anyway?

Happy Studies!

Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes. She lives in Pittsburgh in the United States.

4 thoughts on “Time Crunch!

  1. My law exams are in may. That leaves me with basically less than a month (in a law students mind) to study and plan answers and write a couple of answers. well actually, it feels like 2 weeks till my exams.

    So I was frantically reading the recent developments and newsletters on the VLE and trying to remember everything at 11:20pm, and I realized, Im doing exactly what i love and what i wanted to do. and suddenly, it didnt seem so stressful. it didnt seem like I was going to fail exams that I just started studying for. I felt content that I loved everything i read. I just needed a strategy. A plan. and It would all work out. Because this is what I love to do.
    And let me tell you, realizing just how much you love something is the perfect thing to keep you grounded and not go mental like i was an hour ago.

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  2. You are absolutely right! My biggest anxiety this term is realizing these four exams will complete my degree. No more studying after May 13 :( I had to make a plan for the summer to compensate for no required reading and studying…

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  3. Thank you for sharing this. It is somewhat comforting to know that there are other people out there in the same situation :-)
    You have given some very motivating tips which I will indeed try out to help me keep on track with my studies and prepare well for exams in May.

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  4. Hi Shalini, thank you for writing about your experience. Send me your tips for getting it all done! It is very nice to know we are all working through the same set of challenges.

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