It’s the most wonderful time of the year…
For other students, this may be Super-Multi-Exam Week, Superior-Memorization Week, Assignment-Death-Match Week, Read-All-Those-Chapters-You-Didn’t-Read-for-the-Last-Three-Months Week, etc.
In a desperate attempt to correct erroneous and dooming work habits of the past before this semester finally picked me off, I went to the Academic Success Centre. Therein I received a number of sheets of paper, one titled “Memory and Concentration,” and the other “19 Basic Time Management Principles.” I’m fairly certain I got these same sheets the last time I went; this time, I am actually going to use them. Whether it is a stereotypical “artists-don’t-like-schedules” conundrum or something else plaguing me, I am determined to break out of it so I can get on with my freaking life.
SO, kids, here are some of the tips that have worked for me thus far
- Ye Olde 300-Second Tactical Approach (or, “The 5-Minute Strategy”):
Can’t get started? Writer’s block? Every paper turning into a philosophical dilemma? Tell yourself you’ll start working for just five minutes, before you move on to whatever procrastination device you have nearby. In all likelihood, you will have tuned into your work enough that you won’t want to stop after the five minutes are up.
- Punier* Periods of Mental Fortitude (or, Work in Smaller Amounts of Time):
In terms of studying, you apparently retain more in smaller periods of time. In terms of assignment/paper-writing, I’ve found I get more done if I work in 25-minute chunks, with five-minute breaks in between (as the ASC sheet suggests). As mentioned in the kinesthetic post, work for as long as you can actually concentrate, rather than forcing yourself to sit for hours and accomplishing nothing. If you can only concentrate for five minutes, work for five minutes. Then take a(n (extremely) short break and work for another five minutes. Do this until the semester ends.
This strategy might not work for actual exams, however, when you are forced to sit for three hours whether you like it or not. If anyone knows how to write an exam without freaking out, please leave a comment below.
- One Chapter, Two Chapter, Ah Ah Ah (or, Set Goals Quantitatively):
I.e., “Develop four arguments related to thesis” rather than “Finish the essay.” As the sheet says, “Make sure each task you schedule is specific and measurable.” It’s easier to deal with goals if you know clearly when they are completed, rather than contend with lofty, abstract goals.
- Exist as a Schedule Contortionist (or, Be Flexible):
Failed attempts to follow a strict study/writing regime may cause you to abandon said regime altogether, so cut yourself some slack.
- OMG OMG OMG OMG** (or, Set Aside “Worry Time”):
Write down things (e.g., worries, or even random ideas, thoughts, reminders, whatever) that come to you so you don’t forget them, or worry about forgetting them and then drop everything to deal with them. The sheet goes so far as to suggest setting aside a specific time every day to worry about the stuff that interferes with your concentration. This way, you know you have a specific time to deal with them, and thus do not have to deal with them during study/work time. Ta da. I’m unsure if “Worry Time” is akin to “Meditation,” but that’s kind of what I do.
I hate worry time 🙁
In Conclusivity (or, Lastly):
- Forget*** Everyone Else’s Expectations:
- Stop Checking Facebook:
- When you start feeling anxious, listen to the Metropolis Street Racer soundtrack: