Kicking Off Spring Semester Strong

Gloria Rivera

Spring semester has always been my favorite semester of the year. A campus surrounded by green is my favorite type of campus, I must say. It’s an exciting time for those graduating, myself included, and generally speaking I feel like there’s much more energy in the air.  

With that being said, it’s also easy to feel like winter break went by quickly and that you’re not completely ready to start class again. If this is you, then here are some tricks I’ve found that help me start any semester off strong. 

1. Find a “planner” that works for you 

Adding your weekly schedule to a calendar.
(Photo by Gloria Rivera)

We’re in the age of planners, and if you’re anything like me – then they probably don’t work as well as they’re supposed to. I get gifted a planner by someone new almost every year, and in hopes to be a good person I always intend to use it. I start, and after about a week or two I don’t touch it again. Because of this I’ve had to find alternative ways to organize my weeks. I use two formats which have yet to fail me.  

First, the Calendar app on my phone have been a lifesaver. Whenever I get a syllabus I give myself about 30 minutes to an hour to add everything to my phone’s calendar. Depending on what exactly the activity or assignment is, I’ll either set a reminder for “30 mins before” or “1 week before.” This gives me time to a) get there or b) do the assignment. It seems tedious, and maybe even a bit too much, but I’ve successfully avoided so many “Sunday scaries” because of this. 

Organizing day-to-day tasks on Microsoft’s To Do app.  (Photo by Gloria Rivera) 

The next is Microsoft’s To Do app. I put everything on this. If I have an assignment due, or I need to get specific groceries, or I know I have something I want to do between classes one day, everything lives on this tab. It functions the same as your reminders or Notes app, but I like that I can access it from anywhere and can add from my email in case someone asks for something that I can’t get to right away. I also admittedly love that it crosses out the task after you mark it completed. Something about this makes me feel a little extra accomplished. 

2. Take note of due dates 

Checking assignment deadlines. (Photo by Gloria Rivera)

This may sound obvious, and in direct relation to the above post. But, have you ever really sat down and thought about your due dates? Similarly, have you ever found yourself with more than one assignment due the same day or within the same week of each other? Every time you tell yourself “wow, I have to plan this better the next time…” or “if I had more time I would’ve…” and never do anything differently. This sounds very professor-y of me, and maybe it might be. But, making note of your due dates is one way that I’ve been able to avoid the overwhelming feeling of my procrastination. I have figured out that if I tackle each task a little earlier or designate times to do certain assignments I can pretty much trick myself out of procrastinating. If a certain class always has assignments due on Sundays, I usually make time to do them on Fridays. If I have anything due weekly, I always make note of when I can do it so that when the end of semester comes around and I have bigger assignments, the little ones are less of an issue. 

3. Make your schedule fit you 

The last point is short, but equally important. We don’t always have control of the classes we take. We may have required courses, work responsibilities or packed days. Because of this it’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves. We may wake up in the middle of the semester and feel overwhelmed or burnt out. Make sure that your schedule doesn’t take control of you. Find blocks of time in your day to go outside, to take a breath and to do something for yourself. Time exists, every day, it’s just about finding it. Schedule it between classes, make time on Saturdays, either way make sure your schedule fits you and make sure you take time for you. 

Gloria Rivera is a graduate student in the Goldring arts journalism and communications program at the Newhouse School.