It’s crunch time. Easter is now over. Your workload has piled up, your loan is rapidly disappearing and you want to tear your hair out.
Stop – and breathe.
There’s still time, so don’t start stressing just yet. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your time, stay motivated and finish this academic year – whether it’s your first or your last – without (too much) stress.
1Set a study schedule – and stick to it!
Print off your university timetable and assign set times to study. Whether this is a couple of hours each day or full days dedicated solely to studying. Allocate time for each unit – it’s easy to get caught up in one aspect of your work and there’s always one unit that you just don’t want to do. Make use of spare time between lectures, whether it’s expanding on lecture notes, catching up on some reading or adding a couple of pages to your portfolio, you’ll be surprised how much you can get done in sixty minutes.
2Break down your assignments
If you have an exam, split your revision into small sections and tackle one at a time. If it’s a portfolio or project you’re working on, work out milestones that you want to have done and set dates. There’s nothing worse than having on-going work and feeling like you aren’t making any progress. Every time you complete a section or reach a particular milestone on time, treat yourself. This will help keep you motivated and spread out your workload.
3Figure out your studying style
Everyone is different. Try to establish what your studying style is.
- Where do you study best? Some people thrive in the library, whilst others work better at home. Also try out coffee shops – Starbucks is a great alternative, with an endless coffee supply and free wifi (although maybe slightly expensive depending on your coffee consumption).
- Who can you work with? A study group is great for extra motivation and help, but it can also end up in discussing what the plans are for that evening. Group work isn’t for everyone, if you work better alone but prefer being at the library, there are individual study carrels that can be booked (third years and postgraduates only from 9am-6pm).
- How do you work? If blaring music through your headphones results in you singing along or accidently typing out the lyrics, listening to music whilst working is not for you. For others, music will aid concentration and block out distractions. Try to find habits that help you stay focused.
- When do you work best? Are you an early bird or a night owl? Despite scientific studies suggesting you are most productive in the morning, there are plenty of students that prove science wrong but producing their best work when everyone else has gone to bed. But don’t force yourself to stay up if you work better in the morning, it is more productive for early birds to get a good night’s sleep and get up at the crack of dawn.
4Have a break
Even if you dedicate a whole day to studying, make sure you take regular breaks. Whether you grab a coffee, spend a few minutes checking social media, or quickly stretch your legs, studying won’t seem so unbearable if you haven’t glued yourself to your seat for six hours straight. Set challenges for yourself to complete by the next break (e.g. ‘I will have written another 500 words’) to help keep you motivated.
5Slow and steady wins the race
You may get your work completed by rushing it last minute but it won’t be completed to your best standard. To avoid last minute rushing and numerous coffee-fuelled all-nighters, do a little bit of work over a longer period. This allows you time to have feedback and make changes. Do you have deadlines in April or the beginning of May? If you haven’t already, start your assignments now to reduce stress later on.
6Keep up your attendance
As your workload starts building up, so does the temptation to begin missing the odd lecture (or two). Missing one lecture isn’t going to cost you your degree by any means, but if you make skipping seminars a habit, it will only make life more difficult. You might think that hour from 9am-10am could be better spent doing something else, but realistically it will just equate to an extra hour of snoozing.
7Dedicate time to chilling out and having fun
Keeping up to date on your work doesn’t have to mean becoming a social recluse. If you’re making good progress on your work, why shouldn’t you have time to yourself? Whether you want to put your feet up in front of the TV or let your hair down on a night out with friends, use these moments as treats for all your hard work. The key to fitting a social life around university and part-time work is organisation so get yourself a diary or start making use of the calendar on your phone.
8Take care of yourself
Most importantly, keep yourself healthy. This doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself with some sweets during revision but make sure you keep a healthy diet and have a good night’s sleep. Exercise is a great way of relieving stress and helping you to stay awake and focused. Spend just thirty minutes a day walking, running, doing some yoga, or head to gym to keep you healthy, happy, and stress-free.