The transition into final year can be daunting – thinking about planning and writing your dissertation or final project can be an intimidating task. Whilst there is no one right way to tackle this, finding a healthy balance of productivity, well-being and organisation is invaluable for everyone.
Here are six key things to remember while working on your dissertation – or anything else that takes a lot of your time, energy and headspace during your final year.
1. Minimise distractions
Some people can focus easily, and others find it more difficult to ignore the distractions around them. Whichever category you fall into, social media is often the biggest cause of procrastination for students.
Simple things like switching off your phone whilst studying, or putting it in a different room can make all the difference. Apps have also been created to help, with concepts such as the Forest App not only working to tackle phone-related distractions, but also helping to plant real trees, partnering with the organisation ‘Trees for the Future’.
It’s also okay if your study pattern or where you like to study is different to your friends! Some people like a bit of background noise in the library, whilst others need complete silence in order to write. Choose what is best for you, and you can always switch up where you study if you need a break from your current surroundings.
2. Keep a clear mind
No matter how much you want to focus, if you have other worries/anxieties weighing on your mind that you’re trying to cope with, this can often make for an impossible mission.
Our student support site has advice and services to help you take care of your wellbeing. You could also try productivity or wellbeing apps like Headspace (free if you have a Spotify Premium Membership) or Flipd.
3. Stay organised
It might be a cliche to say a tidy room = a tidy mind, but it’s true. If your study space is a mess it’ll be harder to find things, harder to think straight, and less appealing to even sit down to work.
Create to-do lists, work out a progress chart so you never fall behind, and give yourself personal deadlines to keep yourself in check.
4. Be aware of the small things
In particular: referencing. Keep track of your sources. This cannot be stressed enough. Nothing is worse than coming to the end of your essay and realising you can no longer find some of the references you’ve used.
Referencing as you go along may seem tedious at first but you won’t ever regret it. (Apps like Mendeley can help with this).
5. Exercise regularly
You might feel lethargic and exhausted and in no mood at all to get out and move around, but exercise can boost your energy levels and stimulate your productivity. Not only is it unhealthy to sit at a desk for an extended period without a break, but exercising can have a positive impact on your mental health and help you release any pent up negative emotions.
Whether you prefer the gym or team sports, any sort of exercise can help massively.
6. Don’t overwork yourself
This might seem obvious, but in practice it’s much more difficult than it seems. In the thick of deadlines, with other assignments looming over you, it might seem like the best idea to stay huddled in your spot in the library and work from morning until night. However, the likelihood of you creating quality work significantly reduces the more tired your mind is.
Everyone needs a break, no matter how much work you think needs to get done each day. Even a quick trip to the park can help ease your stress and allow you to get some fresh air and revitalise your mind.