It seems to sneak up on students, first- and fourth-year alike, as if it was our first experience with mid-September exams or assignments. Students can relate to the feeling of having a significant portion of their grade that either is safely locked down in an instructor’s Moodle submissions-folder, or is causing them to scowl at a blank Word document while pulling out what is left of their hair.
Last week, TRU counselors, learning strategists and fellow students were trying to bring attention to this issue a time management information session from TRU Experience. Experts asked students what planning habits they had and offered ways of improving those skills.
Do you use an agenda, phone, laptop or do you just avoid time management altogether?
Keeping an organized and manageable schedule doesn’t come easy to most, and it can really cause a lot of stress. The National College Health Assessment survey conducted at TRU last March revealed that 90 per cent of the 1,500 students who responded felt overwhelmed during the school year and that 40 per cent said stress had adverse affects on their academics.
But there are ways to avoid that ugly, stressful side of a disorganized, procrastination-laden schedule.
Meaghan Hagerty, coordinator for the Wellness Centre on campus, says they see a lot of students come by that just need to escape the busyness, relax and drink some tea.
Finding at least one outlet of self-care is really important, Hagerty said, adding that we also need to realize our own limits.
The reality is that students, just like anyone else, are experiencing all kinds of stress in their lives and schooling is just another piece on the pile, according to TRU counselor Mary Ann Mochizuki.
When it comes to procrastination there are usually some underlying pressures that are at play – not just the new episode of Narcos teasing you at the back of your mind. “The really tough part, is managing that impulsive, emotional reaction that you have when thinking about a task,” because we naturally want to avoid those kinds of stresses, Mochizuki said.
Her advice for people who are struggling with procrastination is to, “make a plan at the beginning of the day that is both realistic and manageable… and as much as we say have a balanced life, we mean it.” She says that the basic self-care and a balanced lifestyle is the first to go when students start feeling overwhelmed.
Speaking to TRU counselor Cliff Robinson, and learning strategists Evelyne Penny from the disabilities and counseling department, they said it was very common to see an influx of students in October and in February.
Penny says it’s often the case that people will not give themselves the time to plan in the first month of the semester and then when due dates start to approach students don’t know how to handle it. Her advice for students is to always be looking ahead either to the next day or the next week. Instead of waking up and making a plan half asleep and dreaming about coffee.
“[Make] sure you always schedule in your emotion time, your exercise time and time when you can socialize, so that you have that whole balance going on because it shouldn’t all be about just the work,” Penny said.
“If we can get ahead of it just a little bit we are going to have a slightly healthier community,” Robinson said.
Penny and Robinson both agreed that the biggest focus for them with these help sessions is to get ahead of the problem and change the behaviour of students to reduce the number of individuals feeling so overwhelmed by their studies.
“The student game is won and lost on organization,” Robinson said, putting a strong emphasis on how important working off of a schedule is.