April 18, 2017

A Method for Your Madness: 10 Tips for the End of the Semester

Photo of a chalk board outlining health tips

We’re two weeks past March Madness, and some of us are only now understanding the true sense of the word. If you, like me, are fighting against the ever-pressing threat of your annual sinus infection or the grad school version of “senioritis,” hang on. The successful graduate student must learn how to channel what Polonius once witnessed in Hamlet: “Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

  1. Your health is not a luxury. In fact, it’s a necessity to get good work done. If getting two extra hours of sleep now means you’ll be healthy for the rest of the semester, it’s worth it. Drink some water with that coffee, eat something green, and walk to school instead of drive. It will pay off later.
  2. Prioritize. The seasoned grad student knows that not everything will get done all the time. Decide what papers, projects, and readings are most important and work in order of priority.
  3. Always ask for advice. Don’t assume you should figure it out all on your own. Asking for advice from people further along in their careers will allow you to save time and energy on your own work.
  4. Don’t be afraid of the library (or the librarian). At some point in your academics you have to realize the library and the librarian are your friends, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, it’s time to do so.
  5. Work while you whistle. Find ways to integrate your work into your daily life. Whether you’re listening to an audiobook, emailing on the go, or reading while you eat, there are plenty of ways to blend your work and life.
  6. But breaks are still important. If you’ve been doing this for some time, you know that working around the clock can often produce mediocre work. Schedule breaks that are regenerative for you, whether social, active, or meditative.
  7. Turn off your phone. It’s much easier said than done, but the results are surprisingly effective. Without the distraction of notifications you will do better work, plain and simple.
  8. Optimize your best working hours. Part of graduate school is figuring out how you work best. If you consistently fall asleep while working at nights, utilize your mornings better. Find ways to work with your habits instead of always working against them.
  9. Make reasonable goals. Make goals for what you will do today instead of drowning in the big picture. You’ll get more done and lower your cortisone levels too.
  10. Just do it. As cliché as it sounds, there is a real tendency to stress about work instead of just doing it. Rather than spending the next three weeks dreading your final paper, just start the draft. Rather than putting off those emails for your group project, just send them.