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