Getting Down to Business

While the large majority of my time at Harvard is spent maintaining a healthy balance between work time and fun time, I must confess that there are weeks where I find that I really just have to buckle down and get things done. This week was definitely one of those weeks, where I felt like every time I sat down to take a break (or more likely, try to take a nap) I would remember something I needed to do or add to my ever-growing to do list. Another confession though: I kind of think I thrive during weeks like this, and find that it’s when I’m at my most productive – though the days themselves might be stressful, there’s a strange sense of satisfaction to get to the end of it all and realize how much I got done. Admittedly, I’m not quite done with this crazy week soooo that sense of accomplishment won’t be happening for a few days, but I’m looking forward to that feeling nonetheless.

A handful of things that managed to spring up this week:

–       Thesis: This was probably the most exciting part of my week – I finally figured out who my thesis advisor is going to be!! After literally months searching and a dozen conversations with different faculty members, I feel like the pieces are finally starting to fall into place. Finally finding an advisor means that I know have to turn to the more involved question of exactly what I’m going to ask as my research question. I settled on prison health care as a general topic, but am in the process of determining my exact focus, which takes a lot of reading… Add to that the problem of having to apply for human subjects approval and the puzzle of figuring out my methodology and it turns out I have a LOT to think about. The deadlines are coming up much sooner than I thought!

–       Extracurriculars: It just so happened that this week was the week that all of my extracurriculars decided to have an extra meeting, ask for an extra tour, or have a special meeting on a weeknight. The week started with a 7 hour long training for FOP (I’m leading a training trip for new leaders in May!) and was peppered with tour evaluations for Crimson Key Society (we’re about to elect a new class of members) and a planning meeting for Health Leads. Tons of stuff going on, and all at the same time!

–       Summer: I finally ended up securing a summer internship, but have spent the past couple of weeks trying to figure out where exactly I’m going to live. Finding an apartment to sublet is more difficult than it might seem! Luckily, this ended up working itself out pretty easily, but not before a couple of hours perusing Craigslist listings for summer sublets in the Cambridge area.

–       Computer Troubles: In a really unfortunate twist of events, my laptop completely died a couple of days ago and I was delivered the sad news that its hard drive completely died. Forced to say goodbye to my computers while it gets fixed in the shop. Not the most convenient considering that I have midterms on Monday and Tuesday!

–       School: Yup, saving the best (/worst) for last. This weekend is simultaneously my “wow, I have three midterms on Monday and Tuesday” weekend where I study all day, all weekend AND the turning point in my semester when I have to start looking ahead to the big final projects, papers, and take home finals I’ll have to start dealing with over the next few weeks. I find that this part of the semester can be the hardest to deal with, because I simultaneously have to keep my head in the “midterm game” while keeping an eye to the finals that I have just on the horizon. It’s seriously crazy to realize how fast the semester has flown by!

How do I make it through weeks like this? That’s an interesting question and even after three years, I’m still not sure I’ve developed the perfect formula for weeding through these more stressful times.  One solution I know works for sure: up the coffee intake. I am a full-fledged coffee addict, and this time of year is when I start making multiple trips to the coffee shops around the Square for caffeine. Another trick I’ve learned is to not be shy about giving my roommates a heads up about my stress level and work load. It may sound silly, but even a simple “hey, apologies in advance – probably will be a little messier than usual this week!” can really make a difference, and my roommates are always great about supporting each other through various crazy times. Definitely one of my secrets to success!

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