It’s no secret that studying can be hard.
You would think that by now, we’d have gotten the hang of it. We’d start our assignments the moment they’re handed out. Do all of the pre-readings before class. Leave enough time to watch our lectures on 1x speed – gosh, imagine that!
And maybe you are the type of student who’s never skipped a beat (in which case, colour me impressed and this blog post may not apply to you). But for the most of us, no matter how many times we vow that ‘this semester will be different’, we inevitably find ourselves back in front of our screens at midnight in a caffeine-induced nightmare, with four lectures to watch, two assignments due and an 8am tutorial the next morning. It’s iconic, yes, but not a vibe.
So I reached out to the yLead community to ask for their advice on how to stay motivated and get on that hustle! These tips and tricks are fairly simple, practical to implement and stand alone.
Have a scroll through, pick the ones that you think might suit you and remember: you don’t have to be perfect to still be productive.
-Written by yTeamer Jacqui Du
Tip #1: Plan Your Week
So first off, I wanted to start with giving you a simple template (courtesy of yTeam legend Lauren Hocking) for how to plan a busy week! It’s pretty self-explanatory, but essentially, I have seven of these boxes sitting in a Microsoft OneNote document, and I just switch out the dot points every week. Whatever I don’t finish from the bullet points that I’d *like* to get done, I just move into the next day. No point beating myself up about it!
Tip #2: To do or not to do?
I personally am a fan of a good to-do list, but our fellow yTeamer Kayla Preller is an absolute to-do list QUEEN. Here’s what Kayla recommends for effective to-dos:
Write your list the night before. This allows you to get a good night’s sleep without feeling overwhelmed about the amount of tasks that need to be completed or forgetting your tasks. It also means that you wake up knowing exactly what you’re aiming to do – reducing procrastination as your future self is keeping you accountable!
Break down your tasks. There is nothing worse than a big, daunting task on your to-do list. For example, instead of saying ‘write essay’, say ‘write introduction’, ‘write first paragraph’ etc. Every big accomplishment is the product of lots of little wins!
Tip #3: Ten-Minute Rule
This one’s fairly straightforward. If you’re lacking motivation to start a task, try telling yourself that you’ll give it a serious go for just 10 minutes. Chances are, once you get the ball rolling, it’ll be easier to keep going.
If you’re still not feeling it after having a solid attempt, that’s so fine. Take a break, go do a face mask or something and just try again another time.
Tip #4: Listen to Your Body
You’re at your most productive when you are in tune with your physical and mental wellbeing. Let’s hear it from yTeamers Tash Hawkins and Bridget Muir:
“Listen to what your body needs. If the most you can do during a day is get out of bed and get dressed, respect the fact that your energy levels for that day may not allow you to watch 3 lectures and write an essay. Be patient and kind with yourself.” – Tash
“Let yourself study what you want to study. If that means changing up your timetable, change up your timetable. You will be more productive studying something you actually want to do.” – Bridget
Tip #5: Find Your Balance
This one has been pretty tough lately, especially as we are all in different stages of lockdown at the moment. I checked in with Ella Proberts and Bridget Muir on what they’ve been getting up to in iso:
“Take a social media free study break. Go for a walk, phone a friend, FaceTime a mate, do some exercise, bake some cookies, lie in the sun, do a puzzle, write some snail mail, journal, braid your hair, do something different, something that doesn’t involve scrolling through your phone.” – Bridge (P.S. Bridge and her sisters handcrafted 100+ Easter baskets and delivered them to friends & family – real-life angel behaviour)
“Last semester, in lockdown, I found it quite therapeutic to sit down every Sunday night, write my plan for the week and know that there would literally be NO interferences. NONE. But now that uni is no longer my only focus, I’m finding my days have not once gone accordingly to plan. I’ve learnt to adapt the organisational methods I was using in iso by asking what are the things that I really value: friends, exercise, uni, family, acting – and how much time is PRACTICAL for each to fit in my day.” – Ella
Tip #6: Love the Space You’re In
I love this tip. At my first SLC as a mentor, I created an inspiration wall in my squad room that I’ve since put up in own room at uni (see photo above). With just a Sharpie and a pack of sticky notes, I’ve got the following system going:
- Yellow: Qualities I value
- Green: Reminders to myself
- Pink: Quotes I love
- Blue: People who inspire me
“I absolutely thrive in a space that I have created myself. For me, my ultimate, deep-dive study zone is clean, decluttered, organised, practical and filled with bursts of inspiration! I love to have little quotes or photos pinned on my wall to add I bit of brightness to my space – as well as a lovely mug of coffee or tea right on hand!” – Imogen Ryan-Kerr
Tip #7: Keep Yourself Accountable
A good way to avoid cramming last-minute is to set progress ‘checkpoints’ for yourself, and then to tell them to other people so that you can be held accountable. As a very wise yTeamer (yes Ella Proberts, I mean you) once told me, procrastination is more about the emotions you associate with your work than the actual work itself.
Knowing this, sometimes you’ve just got to set those emotions to one side and look at the task objectively. It’s never as bad as you think it is. And the best thing is, you’re not on your own! Finding a friend who is doing the same assignment can really help with time allocation and staying on track. You might both agree to have your first drafts done by a certain date, and set up a FaceTime to hold each other to it. After all, teamwork makes the dream work!
Tip #8: Remember Your Gratitude
But at the end of the day, the work is still there and it needs to be done. As much as I’m 100% an advocate for being forgiving with yourself, I also think it is just as important to remember that self-care doesn’t always come in the form of Netflix binges and scented candles. Sometimes, knuckling down and proving to yourself what you are truly capable of can bring its own kind of fulfilment and satisfaction.
Because when it really comes down to it, I am grateful for my education. As much as studying can be hard, dull and downright stressful at times, there are people in this world who would give absolutely everything to be able to access it. So when the going gets tough, I remind myself of what I am grateful for. I owe it to myself to fulfil my own potential, and make the most of what life has given me.
To those who’ve stuck around to the end of this blog post – good luck with your studies! Once again, I’ve been reminded of how incredible the yTeam community is, and we’ve all got your back.
Lots of love, Jacqui Du xox
With thanks to: Izzy Gardener, Lauren Hocking, Kayla Preller, Tash Hawkins, Bridget Muir, Ella Proberts, Imogen Ryan-Kerr.