What are your plans for Reading Week? Escaping the Canadian winter for a fun trip down south with your friends? Catching up on movies you haven’t seen yet?

Resist the urge to check out of school mode, and use this time to get yourself organized so you can stay on top of your studies, says Madelyn Steed, manager of academic support at Ted Rogers School of Management Student Services.

Here are her top five tips on making the most of your reading week:

1. Start with the End in Mind

Bestselling Canadian author, motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and blogger Danielle LaPorte has a novel approach to goal setting. LaPorte says: You’re not chasing the goal itself; you’re actually chasing a feeling.

Write down how you want to feel at the end of your break. Rested? Productive?

Now, let’s start building your week backwards. Our goal: chase that feeling.

2. The Mind Dump

Grab a blank piece of paper. Write everything that is on your mind. This technique comes from David Allen’s Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity. Allen writes, “Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective productivity and unleash our creative potential.”

The point of this activity is not to list them in order – we’ll do that in a minute. Just get it all down on a sheet of paper.

Build the categories out and try to identify the urgent versus the important. Go over your list – what percentage is academic or personal? Make sure to think back to the words you chose to describe how you want to feel at the end of Reading Week. This will help focus your tasks. It’s important to have a balance of should-dos, must-dos, and fun.

Now, let’s start to schedule. Take your items, prioritize them to create a plan.

3. Mind the Gaps

You need a plan. We often have lofty plans to accomplish quite a bit over the break; however, without a plan, it is difficult to achieve your goals. How we plan varies from student to student.

Try downloading our Seven-Day Weekly Planner.

First, turn it on its side. Consider when you are most productive. Find your primary hours, then secondary hours. Plan to put your most challenging tasks to complete in your primary peak time. This will assist with you keeping on task and contribute to you feeling more productive.

4. Mindfulness Matters

Reading Week is both a blessing and curse for students. First, it gives you the chance to catch up; however, it also disrupts your schedule. Be mindful how much you adjust your schedule. This can impact future weeks as you try to get back on track.

I recommend checking in each to day reflect on what you accomplished that day. This provides the opportunity to highlight your accomplishments. At the same time, it offers the chance to revisit your goals and adjust them as needed. HINT: always plan for 911 time – a block of time each week that you keep aside to finish all those tasks you didn’t have time to finish earlier.

5. Mind the Future

Take this time to catch up and plan for the coming weeks. Create a plan to help avoid cramming for the final weeks of the term. Consider who you need to connect with to end off the year on a high note. Do you need to get your group project rolling? Do you need additional support with a paper or assignment? Book your writing support or peer academic coach sessions. This will help motivate you to get your work done throughout the rest of the term as well.

Need more advice or support? Visit TRSM’s Student Services for tutoring, tip sheets and much more.

Any tips you think we missed? Share them with us in the comments below!

Posted by Madelyn Steed

Madelyn is Manager of Academic Support at TRSM. She holds a Master of Education degree and is a proud Katimavik alumna. She is delighted to continue serving the Ryerson student population, and celebrated her eighth year with Ryerson this summer. Madelyn leads and supports the programming in the Academic Success Centre. She is eager to develop and grow the Academic Success Centre to support the needs and challenges our students face alongside exceptional staff and faculty in TRSM.

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