During my four years as an anxious college student, I often found myself suffering long nights in the library in addition to studying for midterms in my room while parties happened right outside of my window. I've even had reoccurring nightmares where I forgot to do all of the work in one class only to show up unprepared for the final. I have also learned a few ways to avoid such disasters.
Study when you can study
This seems fairly intuitive, but it took me about three years to perfect this. I used to drag myself out of bed at 7 a.m. to head to the library and work, only to be unable to focus. By nightfall, I would be wide awake but sick of homework. and I would waste my most productive hours watching "The Good Wife." If you are not functional in the morning, don’t study in the morning. If you can’t seem to focus after 2 a.m., then go to bed and try again the next day. You cannot force productivity. Likewise, study where you’re most productive. Strangely enough, I get the most work done sitting outside next to a fountain instead of a silent library. Find your spot and stay there.
Cut the dead weight
I spent a good deal of my first semester in college running from ultimate frisbee practice, mock trial, to debate meetings to dance practices. I almost never had time to sit down and work. Pick the few things that you care about. As much as I love pretending to be a hipster, attending meetings where we discussed bands was not necessarily a productive endeavor. Nor was attempting to catch a frisbee while running up a field and trying to figure out what a technodrome was. That doesn’t mean that you should drop everything. But pick the ones you actually care about. Leave the rest for a Friday night.
Buy a planner
Make lists. Buy a whiteboard. Create a Google Calendar. Figure out a way to keep track of all of your assignments, update it regularly, and set goals for yourself. You probably won’t write half of your paper the week before it's due, but remember that you have to write it, and you won’t be caught off guard when you’re slammed for time. Prioritize. If you have a tournament next weekend, skip the Halloween party and work this weekend. You’ll thank me next Sunday at 3 a.m. when you’re sleeping instead of trying to increase your margins to 1.2” to meet the page count.
Reward yourself when you finish something. That doesn’t mean you have to spend all night dancing on a table, but take a walk, buy a latte or spend a good amount of time discussing moral philosophy with your friends. If you’ve been allowed time to yourself, you’ll feel more magnanimous about devoting time to Marx.
These clearly are not the only ways to survive stress in college. And I am most definitely not the most organized person. But after several semesters of insane scheduling practices, I’ve moved farther away from the crazed freshmen who pulled far too many all-nighters.