The end of the semester is nearly in sight, which means so are those dreaded January exams and final deadlines. At this stage in the academic year, I sometimes start to lose focus and momentum; the deadlines, exams, career information and the pressure is all-consuming. I’m sure I’m not alone. When you feel like you’re struggling to stay afloat, procrastination sets in and it’s often hard to find the motivation to get your work done. Here’s some tips I’ve found helpful in making me feel more positive at this point in the academic year.
University is made out to be the best time of your life so when you arrive, that’s exactly what you expect from your experience. That doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing though, there’s no denying that university can get pretty tough. Even just talking to a friend about how you feel can help – you can exchange hints and tips for managing your workload and channelling that positive mental attitude! Sometimes just the comfort of knowing you aren’t alone can help. Your TAs, lecturers and academic advisors are all there to support you too and offer advice on succeeding in exams and tackling those tricky assignments. And, of course, if things get difficult and your mental health is suffering then the counselling service at the university is another resource to use.
Who doesn’t love a to-do list? These can be done however you like – I write a weekly to-do list, but of course daily lists are great for planning how to manage your workload too. I like to write mine every Sunday night, so I start a new week focused, organised, and mentally prepared for the tasks that lie ahead. Dealing with one task at a time ensures it’s completed to the best of your ability. Another great way to feel positive about your productivity is to write a list of the things you have accomplished either daily or weekly. These might be things that were down on your to-do list or extra tasks such as doing the food shop or tidying your room. They aren’t academic tasks, but you’ve still managed your time well enough to complete them and that’s something to feel good about!
Stop comparing yourself to others!
At university it’s hard not to compare the successes and achievements of others to your own but doing so only creates added and unnecessary pressure. Yes, you’re surrounded by brainy and talented people but just remember you got into this Russell Group university too – you are more than capable of achieving anything you want to! Focus on your own journey and your own goals and milestones and remember, everybody’s university experience is completely different – they cannot be compared.
Reframe your thoughts.
It’s all about the positive mental attitude! Sometimes it helps me to just take a step back from the tasks I’m contending with, especially when I can feel the motivation draining away. I think about why I’m here at university – to do well, to achieve big and to set myself up for a great career after completing my degree. With that in mind, you must remind yourself that this part of your journey will all be worth it; if you put the hard work in, the outcomes will be great. Take some time out from your work to reframe your thoughts, you can even write them down if you like as seeing them infront of you might make them easier to think about. Write down your negative thoughts and then cross them out and turn them into positive ones. For example, turn the “I’ll never get this assignment completed” into “I accept the challenge. I need to manage and plan my time well and focus, that’s all. I can do it and I will do it”. Read this over a few times, or even say it out loud.
Take Time Out.
Nobody can work well solidly for hours on end, it’s important to take regular breaks. I work for 45 minutes and then take 10 minutes to make myself a drink and refocus. Of course, something different might work for you, it might need some trial and error. In the longer term, look after yourself and set times aside for you to do the things you enjoy. Plan things with your friends so you have something to look forward to when you’ve completed the work you needed to do – see that as your finishing line and your reward. It’s important that when you’re planning how to manage your workload, you factor in some time for yourself too. Your productivity and quality of work will be so much better if you’re looking after yourself and still finding the time to do the things you love.