Ever since Christmas break ended, it seems like school has cranked up in intensity. It seems if you aren’t writing a pre-assignment, then you must be starting research for a 10-15-page paper. This is, of course, in addition to being in class, having a part-time job (as many students do), figuring out times to apply for jobs, and finding some time for friends and a social life! It can start to feel a little overwhelming.

This is also the time of the year that many students (myself included) start to feel a little down.  The excitement of the holidays is over, and the weather is grey and cold most days, and it just seems like endless days of dreariness. And unfortunately for many people, it’s not just about being a little down in the dumps. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) is a very real condition affecting thousands of people every winter.

Here are some of the most helpful techniques that have helped me stay on top of my school work and maintain some sanity during the winter. The number one is exercise. And during the winter, this can seem like the most unpleasant thing to do. But exercising every day keeps you organized and gives you extra motivation. You produce endorphins which help you want to get things done and feel more awake. While morning runs are my favorite way to get a boost before my day starts, for many people aerobic workouts seem torturous, but they are effective. While meditation is a wonderful way to clear your mind, studies show that there is nothing better than a brisk walk to get your mind feeling clear.

Another organization habit that I have picked up since starting at ISM is keeping an up to date planner of all my classes and assignment due dates. I often put assignment dates 1-2 weeks ahead of when they are due. Having long periods of time to get work done is dangerous for many students, and sometimes having a little pressure to get something done in a timely fashion is the only way to push the writing process. Another way I keep on top of assignments is that I treat writing papers as though it was a job.  If I give myself a week to write a paper and it doesn’t get done, then I need to do it over the weekend. Just like a job where if I had a project due and I didn’t finish, I would have to work over the weekend as well.

And my last tip to help stay organized (and beat winter blues) is to plan trips. Even if it’s just a day trip. Because you need something fun to look forward to. And I am someone who hates to bring my laptop on vacation with me. That is not a true vacation. So, knowing I can get all my work done and really relax on my trip is a huge incentive to get my work done as well.

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