General, Student Life, Study

Mid-Semester Troubleshooting

Is it just me or has reading week snuck up on us this year? I feel like I just started my courses last week and all of a sudden half of the semester is gone. As I’m scrambling to get my last assignments in before the break, I’m also taking stock of how the semester is going so far and taking a closer look at how I can course-correct in the areas where I’m not doing so well.

 

Sticky notes posted on the wall. Top: "5 MIN RULE". Bottom: "I won't finish it all; WHY BOTHER? --> What's the next step on my list? I'll concentrate on that step for right now."

Trying to remind myself to stay motivated…

Indecision Kills
At the beginning of the term I was dragging my feet on deciding whether I should drop a particular year-long course that I was behind in. In actuality, I had already made up my mind that I should drop, but the thing that prevented me from actually doing it was me putting too much weight on the physical costs and neglecting the (more important) personal benefits. Even though in my gut I already knew which decision would be the best for my personal well-being, I gave in to second-guessing and ruminating in a way that was unproductive and in the end, this actually began to impede on my ability to focus on my other commitments. Of course it’s important to be able to make decisions rationally, but sometimes your gut is way ahead of your brain on some things and you just have to trust it.

Looking ahead, I realised I’m already stressing myself out about tasks and projects that deep down I already know I’m not going to undertake. I think I’ll probably always be a somewhat indecisive person, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this habit extra carefully for the second half of the term.

 

The unstuck.com sidebar reads: "I'm feeling stuck because..." with all of the different options and situations in bullet point listed below

Unstuck.com is one of the first places I go to when I’m doing some personal troubleshooting. The site has some great tips and strategies to work yourself out of all the different ways you can get stuck.

SMART Goals for Your SMART Goals
I wanted to create another system of external checks that would keep me accountable in making sure I was up to speed with course material and doing a better job of studying regularly outside of those periods right before assessments are due. One of my goals for this term was to make use of my academic resources more effectively as a means of doing that. Making appointments with writing centres, learning strategists, and my course instructors could be one way for me to stick to my internal deadlines (or to actually create some). So far, I would give myself a C- on this. Because “email NC learning strategist” is so vague and non time-specific it’s so easy for me to just keep bumping this item farther and farther down my to-do list. Note to self for the second half: put expiration dates on ALL of your to-do list items! On the positive side, a minor win from this past week: I already have dates set for appointments with the embedded learning strategist at my college and the Philosophy Essay Clinic for an upcoming paper.

 

Tally Your Wins
I don’t have a habit of some kind of daily gratitude writing exercise, but I’m seriously considering implementing one. I’ve noticed in the last few weeks that I’ve been increasingly irritable for no reason. After taking some time out last weekend to do a deep dive on this issue (via free-writing), I realised I was angry about an unpleasant interaction with a colleague that I never resolved or even acknowledged and this was starting to spill over into my day-to-day moods. I like the SELF-journal method (below) of doing daily gratitude writing when planning for your day. Realistically speaking, I don’t think I can jump into doing it twice a day right away (nor do I really want to), but taking a few minutes to just make a note of where I am emotionally or writing down the day’s wins might be a good idea.

The SELF-journal template for a daily planner

Click through for a closer look.

I could probably go on, but while we’re on the subject of making changes and setting achievable goals, I’ll focus on these three things for the reading break and the rest of the semester.