Getting Back on Track During a Busy Semester

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I’ve committed a big no-no in blogging: not posting regularly.

I tried to stick to the schedule of posting once per week, but I’ve fallen behind. I’m going to work my way up, and start on a once-a-month schedule until the semester is over. Thank you for understanding!

My semester got super busy, super quick. It seemed like all of my classes decided to pick up the pace all at once. I had midterms, presentations, and group projects one after the other. On top of all of that, I’ve been investigating research ideas for my dissertation and working on data analysis for a manuscript. All in all, it’s been a month since my last blog post, but I’m back!

I know I’m not alone in experiencing the midsemester craziness and feeling behind in everything. I thought it would be a good time to share what I did to get back on track and advice if you feel like you’re far behind (#5).


1. Revisit class syllabi

I re-read my class syllabi to make sure I wasn’t missing anything about how to succeed in the course. I’m glad I did! I was reminded that participation counts for 1/5 of my grade in one of my classes so I need to step up the participation!

2. Write down major deadlines and commitments

I printed out the monthly calendars I could post above my desk. It’s a great cheap way to get organized! A desk calendar works well, too. I used a desk calendar in undergrad and usually wrote down my deadlines at the beginning of the semester. The only problem was that sometimes when I flipped the page to a new month, I didn’t realize I had an exam early in the month! So, if you do use a desk calendar, be sure you’re looking ahead to the next month. By having the semester side-by-side, I can see the big picture and (hopefully) no deadlines will pop up on me. Since I already had my syllabi handy, I wrote down things like:

  • Exams
  • Paper/project deadlines
  • Meetings with professors/advisor
  • Family events
  • Research time

3. Write down to-dos in a planner

I purchased a planner (this planner by Bloom*) to write down things I need to accomplish each day. I must admit that I don’t use my planner religiously or reference it every day. For me, once I write things down it just helps me get a sense of what I need to prioritize over the next week or so. I copied over my major deadlines so I could write down daily tasks to work towards the big things.

I think it’s important that I don’t make myself feel bad if I haven’t crossed things off; other priorities come up! Once I week, I plan to write down new to-dos for each day of the week. Admittedly, I’ve been bad about sticking to this! If I’m really slammed for time and feeling behind, I will probably reference my planner every day and ensure I cross to-dos off the list to stay on track.

4. Treat yourself

Okay, so I know what I need to do to finish the semester, but sometimes I can’t find the motivation to even skim my weekly readings. After a bunch of deadlines passed, I felt a little burnt out. I rewarded myself by binging shows on Netflix! I also have started to implement daily rewards for myself for crossing off even little things off of my to-do list to help me stay on track and stay excited about my classes.

5. Failing (or feel like you are failing)?

Every professor wants her students to succeed. Truly. If you are worried about your performance in the class, schedule a meeting with your teaching assistant or professor right away to come up with a plan for success. Your instructors should also know the university resources available to you to help manage your circumstances. Do keep in mind that they may be required by law to report abuse or violence to authorities if you tell them.

My semester ends in about a month. I finally feel like I’m back on track to finish the semester strong. Are there any tips you have for getting through the semester? Let me know!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means that if you click on a link marked with an asterisk "*" and purchase the product I may make a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Be sure you've read my blog terms and privacy policy.

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