It’s a dilemma as old as time itself. How do you go from being a massive slob to looking at least vaguely put together?
'All you need is the plan, the road map, and the courage to press on to your destination'. ~ Earl Nightingale
Semester Two is here and while no one really wants the break to end, it's going to happen whether we like it or not, so let's make the most of it. Whether we did really well, really bad or just average last semester this is our chance to do better.
A fresh start.
I have had many fresh starts at this stage of my university career and here are a few things that I have learned that helped me get started on the right foot. If you get started on the right foot it is much easier to stay on the right foot.
1: Sync Your Class Timetable to Your Phone Calender
Whether you have an iPhone, use Google Calender or any other app, sync your class timetable onto it. Trust me. It will save you so much time, hassle and stress if you can just whip out your phone and know where and when you have to be places.
Also - go to lectures. We are all paying literally thousands of dollars to be here (even if you course fees are free, accommodation in Auckland is not cheap) we should all make the most of it.
2: Write Down All of Your Assessments - NOW
Whether on a wall calender, an electronic calender or both, write down your assessments. All of them. When they are, how much they are worth and for good measure, colour code them by paper.
Personally I do both, which takes time but is very helpful. On top of that I do a third list - I rule an A4 piece of paper into the 14 weeks of semester and for each week I write down the assessments and assignments that are due. In what seems like the endless battle to keep our heads above water it is so helpful to know when busy weeks are coming.
3: Identify Weaknesses Early - Go To Workshops
In my first year my general education paper was Politics 107. I have always loved writing and I am not bad, but I am not a concise person and I had never had to write an essay for university. So naturally when I found out that this paper required many essays I was very nervous.
But here is what I did, I went to one of the libraries workshops on essay writing which are free and really easy to sign up via the the Libraries website. And guess what? I got an A+ on that paper. Now I am not saying that to boast, anyone can do it.
The difference is that I identified my weaknesses early on, asked for help and worked bloody hard on fixing these weaknesses.
4: The Pomodoro Method
I am just as distracted as the next person, I think it's a generational thing. It can be hard to focus on an essay about World War One or memorising drug names when our Instagram DMs are blowing up. But I can tell you the key to study, the real key is focus. Phone on silent and in my bag. Every single tab closed. And a solid instrumental playlist in the background, or nothing at all if you prefer.
Now this is hard, really hard, that's where the Pomodoro method kicks in. Twenty minutes of focused, intense study and a five minute break. Just put a timer on. Initially twenty minutes was hard but now when I am in the groove I can do over an hour and a half, easy.
Well, the brain and our ability to focus is like a muscle. Train it to do more and eventually it will be able too. The best part? Once I am finished studying I can actually go out with my friends without guilt, sleep in, binge Netflix, whatever. University in many ways is about learning to work smarter not harder situation and this is definitely a great way to accomplish this. I know I accomplish so much more in a hour of concentrated focus than three hours of; lets check my phone every ten minutes and try and learn the periodic table at the same time.
If you want more information about this or just about study tips in general Thomas Franks YouTube videos are excellent but truly this is the key. Focus. Focus. Focus.
5: Have Fun
There is plenty of time to stress, worry and study. My advice? Especially while the semester is still slow and the workload isn't too bad, keep up, but have fun when the opportunity arises. Go to those Balls, see that movie, go on a road trip. Make memories that will keep you going during exam time. Also, it definitely helps prevent burnout which happened to me in my second semester and trust me you don't want that. Think you don't want to study now? Burned out you won't even want to come near a textbook let alone open it.