Staying on Top of Work

We go into the semester thinking that we will finally stop procrastinating and that we will stay on top of everything, buttttt that doesn’t tend to happen.

Once you get behind, the idea of doing extra work to catch up is reserved for midterm and finals season. Similarly, pre-readings and optional work are left behind as you start jumping from one mandatory assignment deadline to the next. Essentially you become a firefighter and a new fire springs into existence just as you are finishing putting out the last one. This is essentially a university student once they are behind.

When you get another assignment, but you are already behind in school. Photo by Jay Heike on

Honestly, this method works fine, but if you do ever stay ahead right from the start of the semester, you realize how nice life is. In my experience this semester, I started doing all my pre-reading, notes, quizlets, and assignments ahead of class. I noticed a few things:

  • Less stress – I didn’t have to worry about deadlines or not finishing anything and have felt relatively more prepared for exams.
  • More social time – Instead of saying I have to study and then procrastinating, I can just make plans.
  • Better grades – Going into class having a bit more textbook knowledge has paid off as I understand the material better in class and because often there are a few questions that cover textbook material not mentioned in class.
  • Class participation – I actually understand what the teacher is asking most of the time and this makes me not afraid to answer their questions – especially when the class is awkwardly silent and waiting for someone to step up.

What you will have time to explore if you stay on top of your readings.

While it does require some weekly discipline, maybe it’s worth trying to stay ahead of schoolwork. Try it out and let me know what you think.

(Update: I fell off of doing this right after my midterms – which studying was easier for because of this, and while it will be excruciating in the moment, I think I am going to catch up soon and reap the benefits of staying on top of my work).

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