Do you find yourself with too much work? Find out how to avoid it!

“Doesn’t my professor know I have other classes, and other work to do?!” I can’t count how many times I said this throughout my college career. There always came a time, every semester, where it seemed like my professors all teamed up and decided they wanted to make my schedule crazy, with tests, projects, and reading assignments all on the same day. When you’re so bogged down with a million and one things to do at a time, it can be hard to see the light and know where to even begin! Read on for a few tips and tricks to stay ahead of the pile-up and keep your sanity in the process.

1. Organize. It helps if you step back from the mountains of papers and books and organize your projects before getting started. Have a copy of each test outline, project description, and assignment printed out and accessible. Put them in some order that make sense to you – by when you have the class, how much you like the professor, alphabetically, whatever. That’s your starting point. Once you have things in order, make a list of the materials you need for each assignment and keep it attached to the description sheet. When you gather those things, check them off the list.

2. Start small. Every project has those “little things” that are more annoying than difficult. Get those tasks done first. Collecting materials, outlining, putting the decorative elements onto a project. As an English major, I always had tons of papers due around the same time. Before I even started writing, I would open a Word document, write out my header and the title of the essay, and save it to the desktop. It helps you feel like you’ve accomplished some step and that you don’t have to start from scratch. I suggest doing this step as soon as you receive each assignment, so you can already have it “started.”

3. Plan. Some projects will absolutely take more time than others. Some are only a matter of transposing text from one place to another. Figure out which fall into which category, and write a checklist for each assignment’s “things to do.” Look at your schedule and keep notes of when you have blocks of time free for each step of each assignment. Get the little things done when you’re killing time before class, and plan to do the bigger things when you’ve got a four-hour break one day.

4. Don’t stress. Stressing out about the pile of work will only make it worse. You absolutely CAN get all your work done. Maybe you’ll have to miss girls’ night out or the football game to do it, but there will be others, and your education is your priority in college. Stay calm, take breaks as needed, and remember that the sooner you start, the sooner you finish, and the sooner you’re done.

Write It Out

The best thing you can do to help yourself stay organized and on task is to write things down. Become an expert at to-do lists and keep them handy. You may be out grocery shopping and realize you can cross a few things off your list then, whether it be picking up poster-board or materials or stopping by the library for a few references. When you cross these things off your list, you’ll feel more accomplished and more motivated to keep that list shrinking.

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