The thing I hear again and again about grad school is the challenge of getting everything done.
It feels pretty easy at the beginning, when you’re only juggling a couple of classes a week. I remember thinking, “gee – is that it? This is gonna be a breeze!” And then the reading started piling up, and it all became very clear to me pretty quickly: you only take a couple of classes at a time because of the crazy amount of reading (and other work) that you’re expected to do for each of them.
My first few weeks of grad school were an absolute disaster: the week would fly by, and I’d pick away at the reading (much of it involved banging my head on whatever hard surface I could find) trying my best to jam it all in before class. The problem, of course, is that I’d turn up for my seminars, only to find that all the words I had crammed into my soft little brain had already run out one of my ears and were nowhere to be found.
It was a humbling experience.
So I’m trying to get a little smarter about reading. I’m learning strategies, which I’ll share soon.
I’m also trying to get a little better about not leaving everything until the day before I have to do it. Three massive, theory-heavy articles, for example, do not want to be read all together on the day before a seminar. It’s a lot harder to write a 25-page paper in a single sitting than the kind of stuff you might have tossed off as an undergrad. And when you’re TA-ing, it’s good to do enough preparation so that you can at least pretend you know what you’re talking about (no, no.. pretending is bad. Always know what you’re talking about).
Part of the key to time-management, I think, is in learning to treat grad school as a job. If you can set yourself some hours, and block out some key tasks that you need to get done, things fall together a little more smoothly and there’s a lot less anxiety.
And friends, a little less anxiety is what we all need.