To combat the current situation of COVID 19 – it is up to you to change your attitude and revert to the direction you planned to go in at the start of the year. Life is a journey – but hey, who mentioned that it would be a smooth road? No, it is more like tar; if you slip, you will cut your knee; but if you are careful the road will get smoother. Take care of your studies, and find out how to be “careful” for your road to be smoother so you can complete your journey successfully.
Here are some tips:
1. Establishing a study space
Your study space will essentially be where you will be spending the majority of your day in and needs to be as comfortable as possible to ensure you are motivated at all times, so you can conclude the day with all the boxes ticked off your checklist!
You cannot make your study space a bed – no! As comfortable as a bed may seem, you will eventually end up ditching the books for Netflix, then before you know it, a small snooze ends up getting one’s head down completely and you awake to a new day- with nothing done! You cannot afford for this to happen, so rather opt for a desk and a chair.
Add a pillow to your chair for comfort and a blanket for those chills. If your desk is a mess, do something about it! Try limiting your desk space to just an exam pad, stationery, and the relevant technology you will be utilizing, for example, your laptop, your iPad. Do not make your desk storage space for your textbooks, exercise books, and files, rather invest in a shelf to store your material. Ensure your shelf neighbors your desk for quick and easy access. Also, keep a bin close by, to throw away your litter. The key to creating a study space is maintenance. When you are done for the day, put your books back on the shelf and remember your study space is not a restaurant; rather eat outside your study space than face the trauma of mucky notes – imagine having curry stains on your notes or even worse: on an assignment, and truth be told sometimes they are even unremovable!
2. Creating an unforgettable timetable that keeps you moving
The human brain is limited, and science has proven that the average person can hold up to three or four things in the mind at once. This is shocking considering the number of tasks that lecturers assign to be done in a day, errands your parents want you to run, the shoulder you need to provide for your friend to cry on and also remembering birthdays – come on, you do not want to cause drama by just forgetting a birthday!
Purchase a whiteboard and place it directly opposite your bed, so when you wake up the first thing you will be viewing is the content on the whiteboard, which should include upcoming due dates as well as your plan of action to tackle for the day! Include inspirational quotes and messages on your whiteboard – and to make it fun, have a ‘quote of the day’ to remind yourself you are awesome and you can achieve anything. Self-talk and self-belief are key to acquiring success. Also, keep a calendar on your desk as a daily reminder – to keep you motivated and to keep you moving. Another thing to keep you moving physically and to aid your poor lower body and avoid numb legs after sitting for hours on the chair is to get up after you have done a task, go to the whiteboard and tick off the task you have done for the day. You will feel like a superhero.
The plan of action for the day ….
Remember, there are 24 hours in a day, and one cannot abuse themselves to concentrate for 20 hours – this will result in a mental breakdown and you will lack the energy to perform for the next day. Be realistic and pick your “working hours”. Decide how long you can cope with working for and incorporate “useful breaks” in between. These useful breaks should not consist of you checking out your Instagram feed, but rather be used to use the bathroom, grab a snack, meditate. After about 4 study sessions or so, have an hour break – to have lunch, check out social media, exercise.
The Pomodoro Technique is also another good way to manage yourself!
DO NOT leave things for the last minute! It is dependent on you and how your brain memorizes information as to when to start learning material before the test date. For example, some students have short-term memory where they need to be learning close to the due date -if that is the case dependent on the amount of material, start preparing at least 2-3 weeks in advance: revise and repeat – and the same applies if you have long-term memory, although you may want to start learning at least a month in advance. We tend to remember the lyrics to our favorite songs because we listen to them daily– by revising your material on a daily, you will not go wrong.
CALCULATING THE NUMBER OF HOURS, I NEED TO PUT IN A WEEK FOR A CERTAIN SUBJECT BASED ON NUMBER OF CREDITS TO BE EARNED click HERE!
Try to ensure you meet these hours, and when it comes to selecting what subject to do for a day – follow the routine you had when you were on campus physically and use the lecture timetable. For example, if you had accounting on a Monday at 9 am-10 am, you still will have the same despite being at home. It is important to switch between different topics, as it can be incredibly boring and dull to focus only on one subject a day. We need continuous energy to be bright students!
REMEMBER, after your working hours are done and you have completed the tasks for the day, just like how a manager would earn a salary, you earn your salary because you deserve it – by either booking a massage on a free slot on the weekend or just a comfy at-home Netflix and popcorn night! Self-control is key and even if you may not reap the benefits now, the benefits will occur later when the results have been established!
3. Blocking out distractions
Even though you are no longer confined to a lecture hall of 600 other students, we are still open to distraction. Whether it is the dog barking, your family who have maximum speaker volume, or because you are working alone with technology and Instagram is just a click away – there are ways to eradicate this.
It is vital to speak to your family about your “working hours”, and how they should not disturb you unless you are on your break. Your family loves you and supports you and will do anything to help you study well. As a reminder to them that you are in study mode, you can even stick a “Do not disturb” sign outside your door. If other distractions are out of your control that pursue, plug in your earphones and if you are a musically-inclined learner – try some study music (you can find many helpful study music playlists on YouTube from jazz to EDM – dependent on your taste and what helps you work well), but if it easily distracts you, do not play any music, just use your earphones to cancel the distracting noise.
On the other hand, every time we hear a notification we immediately want to know if he has answered your DM, or if she has snapped you back – switch the phone off and put it far away from your study space. If it bothers you, make a deal with a family member to keep it with them until you have your 1-hour breaks. However, in this day-and-age, you cannot completely avoid technology as it is essential to work with it to do your studies. Create a different user on your iPad or laptop and sign in with that user when working. Ensure that under this “user” , all you have access to are your educational material and Google to answer your academic queries.
SLEEP IS CRUCIAL… and it has proven that students need approximately 8 hours of sleep. Although due to our busy schedules that we cannot neglect, use this sleep calculator to find out what time you need to go to sleep to function, if you are planning on staying up late. Do not play with your “sleep”, and make sure you do not have contact with your phone as this can prevent you from getting your hours of sleep that are needed to function properly the next day. Energy is key in making the most out of your day and ensuring you meet your schedule targets – do not mess this up. BUT, remember if you are writing a test the next day, get your 8 hours of sleep, so you can be alert and excel!
4. Leading a balanced lifestyle
Life is like a chair. There are 4 legs, and thus there are 4 legs in our life that need to be fulfilled to balance, so we do not collapse. The 4 legs are:
Academic: by putting in those hours and not leaving things to the last minute, you are balancing your academic life by ensuring you meet your goals for your studies (what marks you are willing to achieve for a subject), as well as eliminating stress and pressure that you may feel soon to a due date since you would have been already well prepared through continuous revising!
Spiritual: even when you feel alone – anxiety is a great stumbling block to students in this generation and with COVID it does not make anything easier – connect with God through your religious ways: if you are Hindu, chanting mantras; or a Christian reading the Bible, it is necessary to feel connected with someone spiritually so you know you are not alone. Even if you are not religious, try meditating as a breather to get away from this stressful planet to your planet where tasks are nonexistent and it is just you. You can find many meditation videos for free on YouTube.
Physical: not only are we putting on quarantine kilos, but a healthy body equals a healthy mind. Your body is a temple and needs to be respected. Dedicate your 1-hour break to your body – by either going for a walk or an intensive Chloe Tings workout on YouTube, if that is your vibe or simply practice a few yoga moves from Shilpa Shetty or Yoga with Adrienne’s channel on YouTube. Whatever it is, keeping your body moving, keeps your mind moving.
BTW….because lectures are now digital, this means our eyes are continuously being glued onto the screen! This constant exposure will result in eye problems and to prevent this – try practicing the following exercise every time your eyes feel sore:
Social: most of us over-dedicate our time to this, but it is essential to have a balance among all 4 legs as well as social. It is impossible to be stuck in your room all day, studying. Take some time off in a day to connect with friends over social media, especially during COVID where it is impossible to meet up, plan scheduled video calls to catch up on your free time slot.
5. Testing situation
On the day of your online test, it is imperative to ensure you are in the right mindset. Ensure you get 8 hours of sleep or more and eat a good nutritious breakfast. Also on a side note, do not consume vast amounts of water beforehand, as you cannot afford frequent bathroom breaks in between.
Make sure you are well-equipped with the right stationery needed, and an exam pad on hand for calculations! Clear your desk of any study notes, switch your phone off and request quietness from your family. If you are planning on cheating, which most students do, considering the circumstances, remember you can cheat a test, but you cannot cheat a career. If you qualify as a doctor one day – there are no notes out there to tell you how much of a medication to prescribe to a certain patient. The choice is yours.
After you complete your test, do not fall back into your study routine – you have just completed a test. Do not go out because of COVID, but participate in something non-studying related like having an Ice-cream virtual party on Zoom with your friends to celebrate and rest (this is a MUST especially if it is your last semester test and a holiday is about to begin!)
LAST…BUT NOT LEAST….
WE HAVE SAVED THE MOST IMPORTANT FOR LAST….
6. Stay engaged & connected!
A bird is dependent on its lightweight, the shape of its wings, speed, and might to fly. For you to “fly”, you will need support, just like a bird does. Do not forget this. Amid a lecture, no matter if it is zoom now or in a lecture hall later, and when your lecturer is explaining human anatomy, but your heart is thumping and your hands are sweaty because you cannot comprehend the content – or you may even be in a daydream thinking of Justin Bieber’s abs – do not worry we are all human – immediately star the section you were lost at and consolidate with your lecturer after the lecture. You cannot bear the risk of falling behind, as when the test comes soon you are left in a muddle and a puddle of tears. Your lecturers care about you and your mental health just as much, and will always be willing to answer queries and give you extra sessions to help you come to terms with the “unbearable”.
Reach out to your classmates. Organize daily zoom calls to check on your peers, how they are coping, and help each other out with “confusion” via study sessions or even lend an ear to listen to “boyfriend problems” if need be. Do not leave your classmates in the dark during this time, support is what will help you “fly” and be where you want to be.
You are never alone. The wind has blown, taking us from a world full of sun and life, to a world so dull that the only light we get is from our computer screen, where life has transformed to a mask and hand sanitizer, and human interaction has been reduced to a chatbot. You are never alone. We started this year with goals to graduate summa cum laude, to be the next Shahrukh Khan on stage, to kick more balls like Cristiano Ronaldo into the goalpost – this is not over. You are not over.
SCHOLARSHIP TRACK HAS YOUR BACK!