So holy shit it’s nearly the end of March (and probably will have been and gone once this post goes up)! A quarter of the year already passed. Holy fucking shit. Does anyone else have these moments where they realise how fast the year’s gone by and then can’t actually remember anything they’ve done so far (chewing through your Netflix list doesn’t count)?
Well, join the club. We too have long to-do lists, lots of things we “want” to do on our days off (i.e. the days off where we actually can be bothered to venture from the couch and not feel completely flooded with life admin) and are generally just a little over-caffeinated. Oh wait, did I mention that we also attend university. Or doing a course. Whatever.
In this club, we’re students which means life is 1000x more hectic, and it doesn’t take much to knock our scales out of balance when we’re not on our A-Game. Falling off the “I’m going to be the perfect student” wagon usually happens a few weeks after term starts, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Workloads increase. Life happens. People start having birthday parties again. Our dream schedules start slipping and suddenly we can’t remember the last time we ate a piece of fruit.
For me, this week (Week 5 of 12) has been a killer, and not in the productive way. I don’t know what’s gotten into me, because I’m feeling super creative and inspired, but also totally fucking lazy when it comes to reading those i-mags. So in light of this little side-step, I’ve decided to put my procrastination to good use (before getting back to the hustle tomorrow) and write up a big old blog post with some super realistic and useful study tips.
I initially wrote these down a couple of weeks ago (during another avoidance spell) and probably should print them out and hang them above my desk or something. At least then I’ve got something to physically guilt trip me into working, right? Hm, stay tuned, and until then, enjoy!
Tip #1: Start at the beginning of the week
Whether that be your Sunday night or Monday, it’s totally up to you. Not only will you feel good by starting your week off right, but you’ll find that when Friday rolls around you’ll be feeling way less pressure to cram everything into your weekend and dig a grave for your previous(ly social) life.
Tip #2: Something is better than nothing
Even if you only do an hour’s work of study at least you did SOMETHING. You’ll feel much better knowing that you put your head down for an hour before ducking out for Happy Hour, and if you’re a list maker like me then you can successfully tick yes, I read 2 chapters of that totally boring textbook, and yes, I spent way too much during 2 for 1’s.
Tip #3: Do a bit every day
This kind of follows on from #2, but it’s a good strategy to implement early on. Breaking your homework/assessments down into manageable daily chunks will make the whole thing a whole lot less daunting, and if you set time frames or study blocks for each specific day it will be easy to stick to/schedule in.
Tip #4: Pick a slack day – and stick to it
Okay, okay, I know this isn’t very studious advice to hand out! But I’m trying to be realistic here, and the truth is that we’re not going to be feeling like our super stellar selves every single day. Hell, even knowing that I’ll be doing uni work for 5 days a week makes me wanna cringe, so after monitoring how long I take to complete the weekly readings/activities I decided I could get it done in 4 days (if working productively).
It’s not going to work for everyone, and kind of goes against Tip #3, but basically I like to think of it like this: you can either pretend that you’ll make time for study/assessments sometime during a stupidly busy day, but not commit to a specific time. Then, the day rolls around, shit’s hectic and suddenly it’s 9pm and you don’t have the energy to even blink anymore. You end the day feeling exhausted, unaccomplished, and lazy.
The alternative: you look at your calendar for next week, realise that Monday is just going to be way too busy to realistically commit to anything else (work all day, Pilates class, then dinner at in-laws, etc.) so you’re going to resolve IN ADVANCE that you won’t be doing any study that day. The day rolls around, you’re swept off your feet, your muscles ache and you had to go through another round of “why I don’t eat meat”: the 3rd interrogation. You get home and collapse on your couch feeling exhausted but accomplished, and ready to get your nerd on tomorrow.
Doesn’t that just sound so much nicer?
Of course I’m not advising you to do this everyday – if you can get away with it, this should be a strictly one day a week Get Out Of Jail Free card, and you should only pull it if you know you can make up for lost time later. But my god, is it a handy card to have.
Tip #5: Be Realistic
Sometimes life just gets in the way of our meticulously planned schedules, and not even the most expensive daily planner can stop that. So it’s important that we learn to adapt, reschedule, and then possibly adapt last minute again when the back up plan goes awry. I recommend scheduling in activities and tasks in smaller time blocks (e.g. 30 minutes, 1 hour) so they are easier to move around in the day, and can be swapped with something else if necessary.
Tip #6: Pick something you enjoy and do it for 20 minutes each day
This can be anything from reading a book to listening to a podcast to checking your horoscope. Whatever it is, just make sure that it’s something that gives you joy, and you’re doing it for that reason only. That way, you can always feel like you’ve had ‘me time’ at some point in the day, and if you can manage to leave it till before bed you’ll feel like you’re ending your day on a high note. [NOTE: Of course, leaving it until the end of the day can be somewhat torturous, so feel free to mix it up, and use this free time as a reward if necessary. Anything to keep us going, right?!]
Tip #7: Distinguish your leisure activities from your procrastination activities
C’mon, we all them. Those things that we justify as “just taking a break” or “it’s something I do need to do” or the best one: “I’m expanding my knowledge”, even though they are 100% just an excuse to avoid the books. Yes, it’s totally important to find out what bacteria is in our food (clue: a LOT) but does it really need to happen right now with 3 assignments looming? Probably not.
On the other hand, there are other activities such as exercise, hobbies, cooking, meditation, etc. that are not only good for your soul but will help keep you sane in these crazy times. You just need to make sure you don’t inadvertently use them as a procrastination tool. Otherwise you’ll end up feeling guilty about carrying out those as well, and that’s just not healthy.
So when you’ve got a real spare moment, sit down and write a list of all the things you enjoy doing, and all the things you find yourself reverting to in times of boredom/avoidance/lack of inspiration. Decide if the procrastination tools are actually making you happy or benefiting you in any way, and if they’re not, or at least, not in the amounts that you’re using/doing them, then it’s time to cut back my friend. I know that’s easier said than done, but knowing and categorising your different responses will not only help you be more productive with your studies, but increase the time spent doing the things you’re truly passionate about.
I could go on (hell, I always can), but I think that’s a pretty good starter list. Condensed. Informative. Varied. Practical (my new favourite word, ICYCT). Well, I hope so anyway. I hope these tips have helped you in some way, or if it doesn’t apply to you, then you can subtly drop the link into your friend’s inbox (let’s face it, we all have that friend) to give them a bit of a mid-term pick me up.
Till next time,