7 Tips for Staying on Top of Your Schoolwork

By Alyssa Laffitte on March 16, 2020

As college students, we often have a lot of assignments to attend to. The readings, essays, and problem sets can pile up very quickly! It’s easy to fall behind, but you don’t have to. In this article, we will discuss how to stay on top of your assignments and readings.

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Pay attention to the syllabus

The best way to stay on top of your assignments is to be aware of what’s going on in class. You can do this by checking your class syllabus often. A syllabus will spell out what assignments or readings are due, and on which date. Write down all these due dates in your planner so you don’t forget them. You don’t want to be THAT person who gets points off (or worse, fails) an assignment because you turned in your assignment late. Again, paying attention to the due dates listed in your class syllabus is the best way to stay on top of your assignments and readings.

Set aside time to read and work on your assignments

Another way to ensure you stay on top of your assignments and reading is to set aside time to do them. You will be much more likely to do your work if you set aside time to do it. When you set aside time, you can also intentionally choose a time when you work best. For example, if you know you are a morning person, you can set aside some time in the morning, rather than at night, to get your work done. This technique will also ensure you are spending enough time on your work, and that things won’t slip through the cracks. In other words, if you want to stay on top of your assignments, set aside time to do them.

Set goals

In addition to setting aside time to work on your assignments, you should also set goals for yourself if you want to stay on top of your schoolwork. A good goal to start with would be to dedicate a certain amount of time to an assignment and to finish it on a predetermined day. Along the same lines, you could set a goal to read a certain number of pages or chapters in a sitting. If you set these goals, you will be more likely to get them all done! Setting goals is a perfect way to help you stay on top of your assignments.

Pace yourself

Although it’s important to get all your work done, you also don’t want to burn yourself out as you stay on top of your work. For this reason, you should pace yourself. Don’t wait until the last minute before the assignment is due to get started on it. Instead, plan to complete the assignment over the course of a few days. Decide which tasks you will do on each day so you can complete the assignment slowly, without burning yourself out. When you pace yourself, you will be able to get everything done, but without the stress of having to do it all at the last minute.

Eliminate distractions during your study sessions

When you actually sit down to start your planned studying or reading session, you need to eliminate the distractions in your space. Distractions will keep you from focusing on your work. You don’t want your concentration to be disturbed by a notification on your phone, or by the lyrics to a catchy song on your playlist. Instead, put your phone in another room, play only instrumental music, and only use your computer for assignment purposes. This way, you will be more concentrated on your work, and you will be better able to stay on top of your assignments and readings.

Ask for help if you need it

We, as humans, tend to procrastinate on tasks we are stuck on. We want to avoid those tasks. But unfortunately, you can’t procrastinate if you want to stay on top of your assignments. Instead, ask someone for help when you’re stuck. The best person you could ask for help would be your professor since they will very likely be the ones grading your assignment. Attending their office hours is the perfect time to do it. If you can’t reach your professor, you could ask your class’s TA, or go to a tutoring session. When you ask for help, you will have no excuse to procrastinate on that difficult assignment.

Reward yourself

Finally, once you have finished your work, reward yourself! It doesn’t need to be anything extravagant, but you could give yourself more time to watch Netflix, have a special dessert, or sleep in. You’ve earned it!

Although it does take some work and discipline, you can definitely stay on top of your assignments and readings. If you are proactive in setting aside time and setting goals for yourself, you will do well.

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