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As we approach the halfway point this term, many of us students are starting to feel the pressure. Essay deadlines are approaching and, soon enough, the first term will be over, marking the loss of the first third of the year. As we charge full steam ahead through the year, it is easy to feel as though you are falling behind. Not kept on top of all the reading? Missed some of those 9am lectures? Then obviously the whole term is doomed. Might as well give up now. Maybe start a fresh next term, or next year even…
Written here now, you can plainly see this is nonsense. However it is all too easy to convince yourself of these things as the reading list piles up and the deadlines rear their ugly heads. At the risk of sounding like a Michael Jackson record, you are not alone. There are, of course, a few superhuman beings amongst us. You know the type: seminar prep done two weeks in advance, president of three societies and not only have they completed the compulsory readings but are working their way through the recommended and the additional. Whilst I don my cap to these incredible humans, they are in the minority. The rest of us are taking it one day at a time fighting a losing battle with a hangover and a stack of books.
So you’ve had a rocky start to the year. This does not mean it is too late to pull it back. Here are a few tips to help you get your term back on track and hopefully leave you regret free.
Stop napping. Ludicrous! Okay, let’s not be rash. Instead of coming back from a lecture and rolling straight into bed, try making use of the swish new library for a few hours. Get that seminar prep done or plan one of those essays. Then head home for a guilt-free nap. Try setting an alarm for an hour or so: this way you won’t spoil your night’s sleep.
Everybody’s always harping on about the importance of a good night’s sleep, but it’s with good reason. Along with all the health benefits it makes the mornings so much easier. Which brings me to my next tip: make the most of the mornings. Try getting up early whilst your housemates are still in bed and there’s only Homes Under the Hammer on the tv. This is the best time to work, as literally nothing exciting is happening. Plus, it makes your naps even more satisfying because chances are you’ll be exhausted by lunch time.
Lists are your friend. Never underestimate the power of a good list. Try writing a list on a Sunday night of everything you need to do in the coming week. Whenever you find yourself with a free moment, read down the list and start working your way through. Take it one item at a time. This way you don’t feel overwhelmed. It also reduces the risk of those mad panics at midnight as you remember work that’s due in the next day. Grab the highlighters and the gel pens (if you’re feeling especially 90’s) and start making those lists.
Now let’s address those midweek nights out. As students we would be lying if we said we were going to give up a Honey Badger Monday at Dalton and a Whoops Wednesday at Sugar. Like a New Year’s resolution, it sounds good when you tell people (especially your parents) that you’re going to give these nights up, but you know deep down you have no intention of keeping it. How about a compromise? Let’s face it – the next day is basically a write off. So instead, before going out, make a conscious effort to get as much work done as you can and make up for any timetabled study wasted sleeping off the hangover at the weekend.
So remember, hope is not lost. So you’ve fallen behind and the term hasn’t started as brilliantly as you’d promised yourself it would over summer. But it is never too late. Do you best to manage your time and get your napping under control. Stop telling yourself you’ll start work at 12, only to discover that it’s ten past 12 and then put it off until 1. Pin those lists on your wall, or carry them around in a fancy notebook. And try and keep the midweek drinking to a minimum, but don’t expect miracles. Last but not least: stop saying I’ll start afresh tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. Instead try thinking, I’ll start afresh right now!