Five Cures for the Common Collegiate Meltdown

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As a Boss girl, chances are you’ve got more on your plate than getting your assignments in on time. Maybe you’re passionate about philanthropy, volunteering or entrepreneurship. Or multiple extracurriculars on top of that AP workload? A part-time job to boot? We applaud you…and caution you. Your overachieving little self makes you prone to burnout if you don’t take care of yourself! To help you avoid an epic “Saved by the Bell” Jessie Spano-caliber meltdown (caffeine pills = BAD!), we’ve compiled our top four time management tips for avoiding the most common meltdown culprits.

Meltdown #1: It seems as though your teachers conspired to make EVERYTHING due the same week. You’ve got essays, tests and quizzes raining down on you at once.

Solution: A calendar. Think you can keep it all straight in your head? Think again. Whether you choose an old-school planner or opt for the higher-tech Google version, it’s critical to keep (and maintain!) a calendar with important due dates, exams, work schedules, extracurricular activities and anything else that occupies your time. Once you’ve got it all recorded, it’s crucial to look ahead each week to see what’s coming down the pipeline. Knock off a homework assignment so you’re not trying to finish it the same night you need to study for a midterm.

Meltdown #2: Not only is everything due at once, but you’re supposed to work a double shift this weekend too.

Solution: Anticipate your busy weeks and communicate with your boss, internship advisor, coach, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask for an adjustment to your work schedule, for example, in anticipation of midterms. Helpful hint: this is the kind of thing you must do in advance. If you wait until the last minute, you’ll be stuck trying to sneak in some study time around your activities. We repeat—get a calendar.

Meltdown #3: Your friends are nagging you to go shopping and you REALLY want to go, but you’re already overloaded with work. You’re incredibly bummed.

Solution: Schedule fun time. Of all the time management tips, this is the one you’re probably most likely to ignore. But we mean it! If you never take time to relax and blow off some steam, the meltdown becomes all the more inevitable. It’s so easy to put friends and fun last on your to-do-list. But even if it’s just a 30-minute ice cream run with a friend, force yourself to take that time by scheduling it in advance.

Meltdown #4: You’ve realized (too late) that you’ve signed up for way too much. You’re simply overcommitted. 

Solution: Be honest with yourself, and know when to say “when.” For some, this is the difficult tip to follow, and it’s often learned the hard way. You know, after you’ve signed up for volleyball, tutoring and spearheading the annual blood drive…all the in the same month. Before you take on another activity, try writing down each and every one of your existing commitments, and allot the necessary number of hours to each. Is it too much? You may need to do some realistic soul-searching regarding your availability. Then practice in the mirror: “I’m sorry, no. I can’t take it on this semester. Maybe next year. Thanks for thinking of me.”

Meltdown #5: You are, in short, exhausted. You’re physically spent.

Solution: Take care of your body. This means eating (reasonably) healthy, and most importantly, sleeping. Make this a major priority. Nothing makes us more prone to meltdown than sleep deprivation. And if you’re thinking you’ll “catch up with sleep on the weekend,” we’re sorry to say it’s a myth—our bodies simply don’t work that way. So organize your schedule around a decent night’s sleep, and schedule time for meals as well. Then dive back into your busy life with renewed energy and greater productivity.

And if you have no idea who Jessie Spano is, check out this video—just say no to caffeine pills, kids!

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