Many schools on the semester system are already back in session, but here I am thinking about ways to make my second of three years at the University of Washington better than the first while also making the most of my last month of summer (UW is on the quarter system). Looking back, I see that setting a rough schedule before classes started made sure that I kept up with readings and assignments.
Being a part-time student while working a full-time job means squeezing in tasks into every free minute I have. Below is a snapshot of the schedule I used and will probably use when classes are back in session. (Note: I live alone and am single, do not have kids, do not have any pets, and have a very short commute regardless of my destination.)
-Reset day. On this day, all I do is work and spend time with family or friends. It was usually a Monday or Tuesday last year because of how class modules were set up, but this day was my self-care day. YouTube and Netflix abound without hating myself for it! It also lets my mind get ready for the following week.
-Preparation day. This day starts with cleaning my “homework area” from the previous week and printing every single assigned reading regardless of length. I know that printing can sometimes be a huge waste of paper, but my eyes need a break from staring at a computer screen all day at work and staring at my phone on my breaks. I also have lectures playing in the background the entire day, whether I’m cleaning, preparing for a program, or ordering DVDs at work. I may not be giving them my undivided attention, but watching and understanding the lectures later in the week seems to be easier this way.
-Normal day(s). I try to do something every day (other than my reset day) and aim to post one solid entry on discussion boards by Friday every week. These days get unrushed attention towards lectures and reading because my mind can only handle so much library knowledge after working a full day. Depending on the week, I can usually sneak in some extra social time or catch a movie.
-Cram day. This is the worst day because it usually means sacrificing sweet hours of sleep for the sake of getting everything done. By 8 am, I’ve already had at least two cups of coffee and have plans to ingest more caffeine before I settle down and get to work. Finishing lectures and readings, working on assignments, and replying to discussion boards fill this day. Cramming usually took place on Sunday, as it was my only consistent day off from work. Fortunately, my library received more funding for the sole person of hiring more staff to reopen for four hours on Sundays. Unfortunately, this means I will now how to move cramming to a different day of the week.
While this schedule worked about 97% of the time, it didn’t always work as intended. For example, I had to call in to work three times when I took a core course on knowledge organization (sorry, coworkers!). I was also without internet for about a week while moving apartments this past spring, which completely threw off my routine and forced me to spend more time (and money) at coffee shops to use the internet. There were also a few weekend trips last year that rearranged the entire week and usually cancelled out my reset day.
This is what worked for my first year and I’m hoping I can make it work without too many changes to accommodate for the extra responsibilities that come with another year of school. Do you have a similar system, or something else that works for you? I’d love to see them in the comments!
Conrrado is an online MLIS student at the University of Washington iSchool and an Adult Services Specialist at the Natrona County Library.