We have all, at one point in our lives, been a student. Whether you’re in school, in college or university, being a student is hard work. It can be quite stressful and overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out. This is my third year being a student, although I am back in first year because I changed course (read all about that here). So having gone through 5 uni semesters, here are a few things that have helped – and still are helping – me navigate this stressful part of student life that is exams and hand-ins.
Find your ideal workspace
This could be the library, a café, your room, in the park… the possibilities are endless. Try different spaces out and see how much you got done in each. You can also switch up where you work – I do this and it helps keep me motivated. Don’t feel pressured to work where everyone else works, just stick with where you work best.
Figure out when and how you work best
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Are you unable to work during your mid-afternoon slump? Do you work best alone away from all distractions or do you enjoy being with other people in a busy environment? Whatever rings true to you, figuring out your most productive time and place to do work will do wonders to your motivation – and your to-do list!
Break tasks up into smaller chunks
“Write a 2,000 word essay” – the scariest words known to a student. All jokes aside, an assignment can seem like an impossible task. Staring at the submission details for your course is not going to help anyone out, so instead, break this big assignment into small, do-able chunks. Staying with the example of an essay, start by brainstorming ideas, then read a few journal articles, write your outline, write the first paragraph, the second, etc. One step at a time you will get closer to finishing your assignment.
Have regular breaks
Some people work for hours on end without taking a break. If that works for you, amazing. But most of us need breaks for our brains to reset. So take a step back, go have a break away from your desk and come back with a clearer mind. This will boost your productivity like no other and help you stay focused.
Don’t forget to eat and drink
And I don’t just mean coffee and noodles. Have a bottle of water in front of you at all times, fill it up once it’s empty and stay hydrated. Limit your coffee, tea and energy drinks intake as these can make you feel all over the place. Have some tasty brainfood and snacks that won’t make you feel sluggish. Also, eat all your meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) as these will give you the energy you need to learn for your exams and prepare your hand-ins.
Discuss tasks with other students
Oftentimes, a task you were given or a piece of information in a lecture slide doesn’t make sense to you. That’s perfectly normal. So discuss it with your classmates. Either they’ve got the same issue (in which case you can move on to the next paragraph) or they can explain it to you.
Ask for help
If you are having trouble understanding something your lecturer said or gave you to do, ask them! It is their job to teach you and help you learn new things. Unless it’s asking them for the answer to your essay question, there is no reason why they wouldn’t help you. They’re an invaluable resource so make use of your time with them.
Manage your time
You have surely heard this already, but managing your time is key to succeeding in your studies – and in life really. Especially if you’ve got other commitments outside of your course, planning when you do what is essential. Give yourself enough time to do things you need to and things you want to do. Here‘s a quick and interesting time-management I did uni a while back and that did wonders for planning my weeks (second paragraph in “Plan your commute”).
Don’t leave everything to the last minute
This has got to be the sentence that everyone will be told when they are a student – on more than one occasion. It is very true though. If you work consistently over the course of the semester, you will have less work and less stress when approaching your deadlines. See above paragraph on how to manage your study time!
Enjoy your time as a student
You won’t be a student forever – even though you might pick up a course later on in your life. Enjoy your time being a student because you will miss it when you leave it. You’ll have to pay council tax, you won’t get cheaper student tickets… Enjoy whatever being a student means to you, whether you’re living the classic “going out every weekend and only being able to afford beans on toast” or if, like me and my flatmate, you’re living your best life with the perks of being a student.
So here it is, my 10 tips to make exams and hand-ins a little easier for you. Let me know what your tips are in the comments section or over on Instgram (@relatablesunday). I hope you found this helpful and I look forward to seeing you next Sunday!