‘Over-planning’ main factor in developing routines for new semester

Alexandria Anderson, News reporter

With the start of the semester comes new classes and new challenges. The work-life balance you may have created in the fall might not work quite as well in the spring.

As these schedule changes happen, it’s important to get back into a routine or rhythm that works for you — one that balances your schoolwork, social life and mental health.

Karl Laves, associate director of the counseling center and licensed counseling psychologist, explained his advice for adjusting to new semester circumstances.

“Adjusting to a new work-life situation requires patience and over-planning,” Laves said. “Change takes time, and if you rush change or expect to change immediately you will be disappointed. Taking time to change doesn’t mean you are incompetent, it means you are trying something new and it will require plenty of practice.”

According to Laves, it may take two to three weeks to adjust to a new semester schedule. It’s important to be open to the fact that this is a training period, and new skills are building as you progress.

Taking this time at the start of the semester to find a new routine could be helpful in the long run. Understanding that readjusting to the balance of schoolwork and social time is difficult and won’t come immediately is essential in order to find balancing methods that work best for you.

Laves also stressed that a lot of planning can ease students into a solid routine.

“Over-planning is also helpful,” Laves said. “You need to take a look at all your assumptions. That is, don’t assume you will know when to do something new.  Plan it out. Make lists, keep notes, use a schedule, use a calendar. Plan your day out to the hour or half hour, including everything that needs to be done. After a week or two this routine will come automatically to you.” 

Over-planning can seem tedious, but truly getting to know your schedule and forming an understanding of the workload you will be facing throughout the semester will make it easier to find time to balance work with a social life and self-care.

“For most people it isn’t enough to just say, ‘I am going to study more each week this semester,’” Laves said. “That is a great goal but you need to over-plan it. When exactly will you do your studying? Where will you do it?  What will you need while you are studying and do you have it? Over-planning helps you spot problems ahead of time.”

He also explained how important your mindset is to over planning and changing with this new semester routine, rather than changing against it. It’s vital that patience is kept throughout times of uncertainty where a new schedule could feel draining or difficult. The sooner that this challenging period is taken in stride is the sooner that a helpful work-life balance is achieved.

“Another piece of advice is this: if you did it before and it helped, keep doing it,” Laves said. “If you did it before and it didn’t help, stop doing it. Wanting to change is important; you have to want to change in order to change, but wanting to change isn’t enough. You have to have a plan and you have to be patient while you practice the plan.”

News reporter Alexandria Anderson can be reached at [email protected].