How to Handle Your Academic Workload

It’s definitely nice to finish your homework without crying 37 times.

Exam season can be immensely stressful and sometimes the urge to just leave it all behind and lose yourself in the glorious world of Netflix is overwhelming. In fact, you might be reading this article right now instead of doing your work (and that is so cool with us). Keep in mind, you are being super productive at this very moment because we are about to introduce you to the tricks of the academic game.

Alright, let’s get this bread?

1. Every second counts

If you have some free time on the train, or if you have a 30-minute break in between classes, use it to chip away at your work. You’ll be surprised how the time adds up!

2. Stay organized

Write down all the things you have to do and decide when you want to have them done. If you’re the type that loves planners, check out “Planners 101” to get you started.

3. Prepare in advance

Start study guides a week before your test if possible so that when it comes time to buckle down and study, you have the material organized and ready to go. Waiting until the last minute only increases stress and makes it harder for your brain to retain the information.

4. Meet with your teachers

If you are having trouble understanding the material, meet with your teacher as soon as possible. Most subjects are cumulative and if you don’t understand something now, chances are your confusion will just escalate as the course goes on. Additionally, meeting with the teacher shows them that you are a dedicated student that is trying their hardest to do well in the course – and they will definitely remember this when it comes time to grade your tests and assignments.

5. Figure out when you’re most productive and plan study sessions around it

If you know that at 6am you’re up and at ‘em and can knock out work quickly, try going to bed early so you can work in the morning. If you are a night owl, do your work before going to bed but make sure you don’t do it in your bed, no matter how tempting that might be.

6. Minimize distractions

Turn off your electronics or put them on silent mode while you’re working. Your group chat may be blowing up but you can always look at it later – the drama isn’t going anywhere, trust me.

7. Take (small) breaks

Reward yourself for finishing a reading, assignment, or piece of homework. Maybe you prefer eating an M&M, just taking a mental break to think of other things, a small meditation, or doing a chore you have been putting off, such as taking out the trash. Beware of electronic breaks, however, as they can be too distracting and create a much longer break than originally intended.

8. Focus on one step at a time

Looking at everything on a wider scale can be an advantage, but it can also make your tasks seem overwhelming. Instead, try focusing on the completion of one assignment at a time.

9. Don’t lose yourself in your work

Make sure you are taking care of yourself; drink a lot of water, eat healthy foods, get your 8 hours of sleep, and make time for outings with friends. (Doing well on exams, the SATs, and assignments doesn’t mean you can’t have a life!)

10. Procrastinate wisely

Becoming a master procrastinator can actually help you stay on top of your workload. The key to doing this successfully is to pick the most pressing items on your to-do list and to procrastinate everything else. Seeing just three items versus 33 will lessen your stress and make everything seem more manageable.


Andy Karp is a senior at George Washington University and a contributor at From a young age, she has had a passion for creative writing, fashion and journalism. Catch her on Instagram, @foundingfoodies and Wishi, as an online stylist.

Cover photo captured by Lacie Slezak.

6 thoughts on “How to Handle Your Academic Workload

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