I just realized that I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about what the academic aspect of graduate school is like. There is no chill. Since I’m doing an intensive program there’s always lecture, always an assignment or project and a cascade of midterms. How am I dealing with it all?
Well, I’m mostly trying to take it one step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. There’s a lot I can say about how I’m managing but here are some of the most high impact things I do to keep myself sane.
- Keep a planner. I spent 5 hours scouring NYC for the perfect planner. It couldn’t be too big or too small, too colorful or too bright, too plain or too structured. I still don’t think that I found the perfect planner, but my feet were hurting and I had to hand in an assignment that night so I decided to buy a Lily Pulitzer planner (now they have free shipping). Her designs are typically my style but this planner is actually pretty good. It has tons of lines to accommodate my fluctuating schedule, but also has enough sections to maintain all of my weekly moving parts. Being organized helps me reduce anxiety by taking control of my wacky life.
- Make a plan. This week I had three different exams, all back-to-back. I have a mental game plan of the steps I need to take to crush each exam. From making flashcards, to drawing out diagrams to making my own unofficial study guides I make sure I have a plan of attack for each subject. I don’t go through all the steps for each subject but I make sure to cover all the necessary bases. With a game plan you reduce the chances of feeling overwhelmed.
- Study group. While I am confident in my academic abilities, it’s also nice to commiserate with classmates. We gather in the library and bounce questions off each other, talk through complicated concepts and lead study groups for one another. Occasionally we also doodle on white boards and pray to the grad school gods to take pity on us.
- Plan fun. Whether its a quick trip to a pumpkin patch (7,000 pumpkins!!!), pedicures with a friend or taking photos for a future blog post I use my aforementioned planner to make time for myself and take a break. It’s incredibly important to me to find time to unwind and do the things I love with the people I love. Even if it’s just an impromptu study break to watch the latest How To Get Away With Murder episode or to check out the new Drake music video, I listen to my body and make sure I don’t run myself into the ground.
- Trick or Treat Yourself. I have a huge sweet tooth. Not so much for candy, but for delicious drinks and baked goods. There’s always a cookie, cream puff or smoothie waiting for me after an exam. Even if the celebration lasts just 5 minutes, it gets me to push through that last leg of work.
When this week is all said and done, I’ll know that I did my best and that I’ve earned a trip to the nearest happy hour! Now, back to the grind… or to find some chill.