How to PASS Through a Hectic Week of School

Jenna Berk
March 28, 2024
min read
student has hands above their head in stress as responsibilities (computer, clock, books, etc.) float around her head

If you have a week coming up that’s filled with midterms, finals, papers, sports, or activities, it might feel natural to show up to school on Monday in a panic realizing how many things are due within the week. However, as with many things in life, planning and patience can help move you along with minimal stress and academic success.

An easy way to think about how to get through your busy week is to PASS: prioritize assignments and activities, avoid distractions and negative thinking, schedule a plan and do your best to avoid surprises, and structure your environment to help you succeed.


Prioritization is a key concept in organization, and there are two main ways to set your priorities: by due date or difficulty.

Timeline will generally be king here: if you have one paper due on Friday and one due on Wednesday, spending three hours on the Friday paper on Tuesday night when your Wednesday paper isn’t finished would make little sense. When struggling to figure out where to begin, start with the work that is due first.

However, if you have many assignments due on Wednesday and none of them are done, start with the most difficult. You may groan at this idea, but if you have 30 pages of dense history to read for APUSH, you’ll likely absorb the information better in the afternoon or early evening. It’s tempting to start with whatever is easiest after a day at school, but you’ll be relieved when it’s 7pm and your hardest work is done for the night.


While there are many things you want to accomplish when you have a busy schedule, there are also some things you’ll want to avoid. It’s easy to get distracted or start a chain of negative thinking when you have a lot to do, but there are ways to try and stop these patterns before they start.

Distractions are an easy trap to fall into. There’s so much we can do on our phones and computers that it’s no wonder we often have trouble getting to the task at hand. Instead of letting your phone absorb all your time, use it to manage your time. Set a timer on your phone for how long you want to work—you can start small with 10 or 15 minutes. Then, leave your phone until the timer goes off. Did you work consistently in that time? Take a two minute break. Did you struggle to stay focused? Try it again, possibly for a shorter time.

If this doesn’t work, try handing your phone over to a family member. Have that person hold it for a given amount of time. Sometimes giving the power to someone else can help you focus on what you need to complete.

Avoiding task-jumping can also be helpful. While you don’t need to sit down and work on the same assignment for four hours, you should try to work on something consistently for thirty minutes to an hour. It can take some time to get into the rhythm of an assignment, so doing one math problem, followed by one page of reading, then two sentences of an essay will leave you feeling more scattered than accomplished.

Another major obstacle during a hectic week is negative thinking. It’s easy to look at a long list of assignments and think: “This will never get done. I’m just going to give up now.” Remember that you are only one person, and you can only do one thing at a time. If you have a lot of reading to do, start with the first chapter. If you have a long writing assignment, start with the first paragraph. Don’t be too particular about where you start either; if you have a page of difficult math problems to go through, you can start with a simpler problem. While you’ll still want to prioritize more challenging assignments, you still may need a warm up with the easiest components of those assignments.


Your schedule should be your best friend during a busy week. As much as possible, you want to plan out your available time. You can use a planner, an app in your phone, or a document in Google Docs. Whatever you use, writing your schedule down can be crucial to helping you stay on task.

While there are many ways to structure your schedule, there are two that are particularly useful.

The flexible option

You can write a list of what you want to accomplish for the day with approximately the amount of time each task will take. For example, “study for Spanish quiz, 30 minutes; work on geometry problems, 45 minutes.” The amount of time these tasks will take should roughly correlate with the amount of time you have available to complete school work.

The structured option

Give yourself specific times to complete each task. For example, “4-5pm, read and take notes for AP Literature; 5-5:15pm, break; 5:15-6pm, practice violin 6-6:30 pm.” The first option might work best if you are usually home at a similar time every day and have a given amount of time to complete homework; the second option might work best for you if you have a lot of appointments like tutoring or piano practice. While you may not be able to stick to your schedule exactly, it will still give you a useful map of where you need to go and the stops you need to make along the way.

A note on consistent, long term studying

Another way to make sure you’re ahead of the game is to study steadily. Working on long assignments or concepts for future exams consistently over a week or two will help avoid panic. In most classes, you have a general idea of when you’ll have a paper or exam. For example, you may have a quiz every Friday in pre-calc or a test every three weeks in algebra. Waiting until the night before the exam to make sure you understand the content is going to lead to panic, and, likely, much less learning.

Instead, form a habit of reviewing class content every day, even if it’s only for 15-20 minutes, and include this time in your schedule. If something isn’t making sense, make a note to ask your teacher about it. Don’t leave confusing concepts until the last minute.


Having structure to each day can go a long way to consistently completing tasks. If you always get home from school and watch two hours of television, you’re likely to continue to do that each day. If you can change that habit to a 15 minute snack break, you can accomplish more in the time you have.

Being mindful of your morning routine can also be helpful. If you wake up early enough to avoid feeling rushed, you can sit and eat breakfast and review for a quiz later that day. Utilizing little pockets of time this way will keep you on a steady path, rather than trying to cram at the last minute.

Complete assignments where you’re most likely to get work done. If you’re in the kitchen, will your family keep talking to you and distracting you? If you’re in your bedroom, will you keep texting or scrolling rather than working? Consider the space you’re working in and adjust it as needed. Put distractions out of reach or earshot. Having a consistent space where you can get work done is important, so when you sit down in this space, your brain will be ready to get to work.

Final thoughts

Busy weeks are inevitable. While you can’t entirely avoid stress, you can set yourself up to PASS through at a steady pace. Once your jam-packed week is over, pay attention to what worked for you to get through it and your obstacles. Recognizing your patterns can help you flourish in the future. Most important, though, is to give yourself credit for all that you accomplished!

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