Getting Ahead

The semester has just started but already things are starting to get busy. I have been trying really hard to keep on top of, if not really ahead, of all of my work. First of all, I just think this is a good habit to have and a good thing to do. Secondly, Formal Recruitment is next weekend and I will be away the next weekend, so I know that this is an opportune time to get ahead. I always say, “do what’s hard while things are easy” and whenever I follow that mantra, I never ever regret it.

Anyways, getting ahead is a great way to, let’s say, insure yourself for a busy schedule or just lazy day. When you’re ahead on work and things unexpectedly pop up, it’s no big deal. I would so much rather be ahead on things and not have to worry about rushing at the last minute and being crazed than procrastinate and end up regretting it later. I mean, why not work really hard at the beginning of the semester so you have more lee-way at the end when it’s springy and nice out and all you want to do is go outside and play?

I know, though, that sometimes it’s hard to get ahead. Sometimes it is difficult to find out where to start and figure out the best way to get ahead and learn at the same time. However, here’s a guide to getting a jump start on all your work:

  1. Begin at the end – one of the best things to do is go backwards. Start at the first exam or big due date on one of your syllabi and count backwards to see when you want to have certain things accomplished by. This way, you can map it all out and have certain checkpoints to being ahead. For example, in my political science class, we have weekly quizzes starting next week that we have to take online. Because I don’t want to be rushing to take them, I’m looking to stay one week ahead on the notes and quizzes so that it’s one less thing for me to worry about. Similarly, we have news analyses due periodically. Although the first one isn’t due until the middle of February, I looked ahead and saw that I would be busy right before it was due and have already selected an article, had it approved by my professor, and begun drafting it, with the goal of having it done by the end of this weekend. Having these planned checkpoints is a great way to stay on top of readings and assignments and get ahead on work.
  2. Start with the hard stuff – like I said, “do what’s hard while things are easy”. While you have barely any work to do, go right for the difficult tasks that you know you’ll dread doing. Outline that research paper and get all the sources, begin annotating the longest chapters, and get a head start on big assignments. Wouldn’t it be nice to put the most difficult tasks behind you as soon as possible? Then, you have nothing to dread!
  3. Do grunt work – over the course of the semester, there are inevitably little, tedious tasks that are so annoying to complete like making flash cards, annotating long, boring chapter, and so on. Do all of that grunt work now so that you don’t have to deal with it throughout the semester and have more time for bigger things that need to be accomplished.
  4. Create usable tools – similar to completing grunt work early on, create tools that can be used all semester long to make studying and working easier and more concise. Make outlines for assignments, create flashcards and make study schedules so that there are less tasks to be completed and there is overall less to worry about when it’s right before that first big test or the week that a big assignment is due. This is really tedious and monotonous to do, but you will certainly be glad for it later.
  5. Be goal oriented – I know this is a tip that I always seem to give, but I think that it is one of the most helpful! Having a goal in mind while striving to get ahead is so useful and very motivating. For this, you don’t even need a specific goal. Instead, your goal can literally be as simple as “Make the semester easier,” or “Work hard now to relax more later!”. Easy as pie and super motivating, right?!

What are your best tips to getting a head start on the semester?

getting ahead

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2 thoughts on “Getting Ahead

  1. Working ahead is a time management system I began in college and have increasingly used ever since! I would always refer to it as “keeping my bandwidth open” for those unexpected things that tend to pop up like you said. Now owning my own business, doing this helps me stay flexible with clients’ wishes and also to take on emergency projects and earn a little more money. It’s a great life skill to have and has really become a key to my time management success!

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