So I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve been feeling just a little overwhelmed lately, and I don’t think I’m alone. Some of my friends and classmates seem to be suffering from the oh-my-god-can’t-talk-now-too-much-to-do mid-term panic. Others are dealing with the stress by ignoring it — in some cases, quite literally. They aren’t handing in assignments on-time, or are just blatantly letting their readings slide.
I’ve been operating with a little from each column. Some days I’m a little ball of stress and panic, drafting impossible To-Do lists and beating myself up when I don’t accomplish enough. Other days, I can keep it all in perspective, realizing that they probably won’t kick me out of school if I come to a seminar without knowing every inch of each of the assigned essays.
I recently learned, however, that Queen’s also has a whole whack of resources to help those of us feeling more than a little stressed out and overwhelmed at with the grad school schtick. One of the best is the Learning Strategies and Development program — based both in the LaSalle building (the same building where you’d go for health, counselling and disability services) at at the Queen’s Learning Commons at Stauffer Library.
I’ve always thought of myself as relatively organized and accustomed to juggling a whack of work (did I mention I used to be a freelance journalist?) but figured it would never hurt to know more. Well! Learning strategies guru Barbara Fretz was a miracle worker. In my first hour-long visit, we talked about procrastination (way more common than you’d think), strategies for reading more effectively, and the importance of creating a schedule — one that blocks out both periods for work (she made me commit to doing at least a half-hour of academic reading every day, no matter what) and for things like rest, play and exercise.
Another great strategy she suggested for combating stress and for tricking yourself into feeling motivated:
Rather than creating a huge, intimidating To-Do list that doesn’t do much except leave you feeling paralyzed, Barb suggested I start keeping a list of the things I’ve accomplished each day –from ‘bought groceries’, to ‘started researching my paper for New Media Cultures’ class, to ‘went to the gym’ and ‘read Foucault text for 45 minutes’. And I have to say, the strategy seems to be working. Rather than beating myself up for not getting enough done, I’m learning to celebrate what I HAVE achieved, and am using that energy to spur myself on to do more.
And, cause they’re right there in the schedule, I’m letting myself enjoy the breaks when I need them — guilt-be-gone!.