As the semester gets closer and closer to the end, I often hear the same word as I’m walking through the halls: busy. Everyone is busy, everyone has a bit too much on their plate, and we all could use a little more sleep each night. It’s an unfortunate reality as exams get closer, and it’s easy to let our busy schedules become all-consuming. But, because I am a fourth-year (which practically makes me an expert at most things), I have a few tips that I live by to help me get through those tough times.
Make a list of non-negotiables.
My list of non-negotiables has been something that I’ve been using since my second year — and cannot imagine living without them. Before each semester, I brainstorm a list of things I want to do outside of the classroom. The list has varied in length depending on the semester, but this list has become my non-negotiables — things that no matter how busy I get, I will still make time to do. As an example, I signed up to run a marathon this past October. This significant time commitment required me to step away from the books for at least an hour each day. It became my fall 2019 non-negotiable, and I am so thankful I had it. It forced me to make time for myself and to take a break from my day-to-day obligations. While not all my non-negotiables are so extreme (or time-consuming), I recommend you find what yours are — and make a serious effort to make them a priority no matter how busy you get.
Schedule something fun — every week.
Let’s face it, Mondays are tough. Each semester, they seem to be the busiest day of the week, and the day I look forward to least. But last spring, my friends and I decided to make Mondays a little less…terrible. We didn’t have a set plan for how we were going to do this, but we started with a Monday night dinner all together last January. Next thing we knew, this had become a tradition we couldn’t live without — Monday night dinner all together. We didn’t have a set place — sometimes we even ordered takeout. But it was something I looked forward to and made my Monday better every week. Whether it is a Monday night dinner, an extra dessert each Monday, or maybe even a quick 30-minute nap each Monday, I encourage you to find something on Monday, no matter how small, that you can wake up looking forward to that day.
Put everything in perspective — yes, everything.
To quote my mom, my grandma, and likely a lot of your parents too, “Don’t wish your life away.”
My mom tells me this way too frequently, but yet it’s always a lesson I seem to miss. Honestly, there have been several weeks during my tenure at UVA that I have wished would have ended sooner rather than later. We inevitably have these weeks. But every time I do this, I question why I had this mentality and couldn’t look past the short-term struggle I was facing. Now that I am an old fourth-year, I wish I had been able to see just how lucky I was, and how even during the tough moments, I was living in a time that I would look back on fondly for the rest of my life. I encourage you to take a step back every time you get stressed over a looming deadline, exam, or interview. Try to appreciate even the busiest of moments, and find a little joy in every situation.