When Faculty Feedback Takes Forever + 7 Tips for Managing Your time

Top view close up of young woman sitting on beanbag with scratchpad and pencil on her knees. She is checking time on smartwatch

We’ve all been there. Against the odds you’ve managed to get your assignment completed and submitted on time. You should be able to breathe a sigh of relief except for one problem: the waiting game has begun. It seems like the more effort I put into a project, the more anxious I feel about receiving the feedback. Straightforward assessments of knowledge that have a clear right answer aren’t so bad. However, essay responses and papers are a different story. Sometimes I absolutely dread reading the comments on my papers. This is especially true now that I’m working on my dissertation.

Don’t get me wrong. I know that feedback has value. Nobody knows everything. I certainly don’t! I recognize, accept, and embrace that. In the counseling field we emphasize the importance of consulting with other professionals to ensure that we’re taking the best possible course of action for our clients and any students under our supervision. Collaboration makes us better.

With that said, there’s something so personal about writing projects. You’ve identified a topic and written about it in your own words. The finished product is uniquely yours. This is particularly true of theses, dissertations, and other capstone assignments that often encourage students to hone in on an aspect of their field of study that they feel particularly interested in. More than with any project that I have completed in the past, it’s important to me that my point-of view be understood and valued. Regardless of the number of academic hurdles that I have overcome in the past, there is always a part of me that wonders if the next batch of feedback will say something along the lines of, “You suck! You don’t belong in this program or this field. How did you sneak in here?!” This feeling is commonly known as imposter syndrome and is worthy of it’s own blog post. Anyway, suffice it to say that these kinds of thoughts make the feedback waiting game particularly unpleasant.

As I’ve made my way through what feels like millions of years of schooling, I have settled on a few techniques for passing the time while awaiting grades, commentary, etc.

7 Tips for Managing Your Time

  1. Read a quick book unrelated to your topic. This allows your brain to recover a bit, consolidate knowledge, and explore something else you find enjoyable. Podcasts are a great option, too.
  2. Embrace the self-care you’ve been putting off. Now that your workload has eased up a bit, you have no excuse to avoid taking care of yourself.
  3. Catch up with your friends (you know, those people you used to hang out with before your life became all about school). Re-engage with the world outside your academic bubble.
  4. Take inventory of your health and habits. When the workload gets overwhelming, it’s not unusual to let some of your healthy habits slide in favor of more convenient alternatives. Lulls in between major assignments allow you time to see where you’ve gotten off track and make the necessary changes.
  5. Get organized. If you’re anything like me, your work space can get a little chaotic when you’re in the midst of a project. While you’re waiting to solidify your next steps, go ahead and declutter your environment. For example, did you print out a ton of articles while you were writing? You can probably stand to recycle some of those. If anything, consider just maintaining electronic copies. You’ll feel better and be better positioned for success when it’s time for your next project.
  6. Journal about your reflections on the process so far. It can be nice to slow down and take account of how far you have come. This can be in relation to a specific project or your overall program. What has been working for you? Are there any aspects of your life, within your control, that could use some adjustment? What about your internal experience? Is your spirit nourished? Are your professional and academic choices in alignment with the purpose you’ve discerned for yourself? These are just a few of the questions you should be asking yourself periodically.
  7. Work ahead. Once you’ve allowed yourself some time to rest and reflect, consider getting a jump start on upcoming assignments or goals. Spare yourself the stress of being last minute. It can be a delicate balance between taking care of yourself and efficiently working through your to-do list, but seeking that balance is so worth it!

How do you feel about receiving feedback? Do you have any suggestions on how the anxious ScholarMoms amongst us can deal with waiting for (and accepting) professors’ critiques? Let me know in the comments!