Summer vs. School – Who’s Winning?

So, don’t tell my tutor, but I’ve fallen a bit behind with my course. The end date is less than four weeks away and I haven’t finished the final unit. I haven’t finished the assignment due before the final unit. And the final essay? Just a dream at this point.

I’d like to blame summer, but It’s clearly my fault. Although summer has been luring me away from my desk with its siren call of road trips, nature walks, and cold beers on the patio, It’s me who is letting myself be distracted.

I started with a good plan and thought I was on target. Then available time got whittled away here and there. I may have been inattentive or overoptimistic. Either way, now I find myself in “holy crap” mode as a vague sense of panic settles in. I’m going to need a better plan if I want to finish my course on time. (And I do, I really do!) Here goes:

Just say no. I’ve been a sucker for invitations from friends too many times. Instead of working on my course, some days have been spent prowling around flea markets, lounging around bodies of water, or nursing hangovers. This month, I’ll be gracious but firm: “Thanks, but not this time. I have school work.” Seriously, I can do this.

Disconnect. I usually keep connected to e-mail and Facebook when I’m studying. Bad habit, I know! Every time I get an alert?oh, there’s one now, hang on a sec?I lose focus and momentum. This month, I’m going to turn those apps off. Most of the time.

Give up the big-chunk-of-time ideal. I like working on my courses in three-hour stretches. If I can’t arrange a big chunk of time one day, I tend to skip out on course work altogether. This is self-imposed nonsense. This month, I’ll work on my course even if I only have short bursts of time available.

Invade the sanctity of weekends. I structure my study around a Monday to Friday workweek, preserving weekends for a break in the routine. While It’s nice to slow down a bit on weekends, I really could manage a few hours of course work on a couple weekends this month. It probably won’t kill me.

Learn a lesson. For most courses, I’ve aimed to finish all the work a full month ahead of the deadline. Because my current course had no exam, I didn’t worry about having that cushion. Now I know I need it, so next time I’ll remember to leave myself a month at the end, “just in case.”

As a writer, I know that nothing motivates like a deadline. Now that I’ve turned the calendar page to August, that deadline on the 31st is staring at me constantly, reminding me to focus. Summer will still be here in September, but this course has got to win the race to August 31.

Barbara Lehtiniemi is a writer, photographer, and AU student. She lives on a windswept rural road in Eastern Ontario. Follow Barbara on twitter @ThereGoesBarb.