Self-care Sunday: How to prep yourself for a successful week

Alex Larson

As we approach week eight and get closer to finals season, it’s important to reevaluate your weekly schedule and see if you’re using your time efficiently. Usually around weeks six to eight, students get into a slump and start to lose motivation. It’s important to revisit your goals, and think about what you could be doing to increase success in and out of school.

Clare Creighton, director of the Academic Success Center (ASC), is a big advocate for weekly planning. “I think establishing a routine around your time management and organizational tasks is key. If you identify that every Sunday night (or Friday afternoon or whenever) you’ll create your schedule for the following week, look at big picture projects that need some planning and update your task list, this routine will help keep your time management tools relevant and helpful,” Creighton said.

Creighton also explained that it is important to keep your weekly schedule visible and accessible. This can mean making it your screensaver on a phone or laptop, keeping a planner app on your smartphone, a notebook in your backpack or a visible calendar in your room.

It’s important to integrate all the aspects of your life into your weekly planning, not just classes and homework. “Everyone has a different level of detail they prefer in scheduling: some people want to map out every half-hour to ensure they are accurate and detailed about how they spend their time, while other people want to schedule the consistent commitments and view the rest as open time. Either way, we notice students struggle most when they forget about the time it takes to eat, commute between locations, shower and get ready for school or get settled and get to work. We believe it’s worth it to schedule in sleep, meals, errands and self-care activities like exercise, particularly as we head into a busy time of the term,” Creighton said.

For those of you who have commitments outside of school, such as work, children, sports or other obligations, it’s good to find what times of the week are open, so you can utilize that time to take a rest or get ahead for the next week.

“For students who find their weekdays fill up quickly, weekends can be a great time to prepare for the next week. Whether it’s grocery shopping, meal prep, cleaning or running errands, getting some of those tasks accomplished before the new week begins can help you feel prepared and organized and perhaps less stressed as a result” Creighton said.

“One of my favorite techniques is the idea of ‘pointing yourself downhill’ which refers to the idea that when you take a break or step away from your studying, you make it really easy to start back up again. As you finish up a study session or some homework time, take 30 to 60 seconds to update your task list: acknowledge what you got done, take note of where you need to begin when you pick back up again. Leaving yourself a note about how to get started will make it easier to dive into the project or task after a break or time off. This and other micro-habits can be found in our worksheet on Motivation Techniques,” Creighton said.

If you need help or guidance with planning or stress management, there are plenty of resources on campus including the ASC and CAPS to give tips and tricks on how to stay on top of your work and keep a clear head to finish out the term. Another important tip is to make time for working out or partaking in creative activities to hit ‘refresh’ in your brain. “Often those can be the first things to go when we get busy, but they’re integral to our well-being and ability to focus and concentrate. It’s also very helpful to be realistic about how long things take, to build in flex time in case things take longer and to spend part of your weekly planning time reflecting on what’s working well and what needs more attention,” Creighton said.