The season of March: what I’m doing to improve my (study) lifestyle

How’s your year going so far? I know, I know, it is (still) midterm season, so it’s probably a bad time to ask. Still, I hope you’re doing well and have time for yourself.

For me, I think this semester is a bit better than last semester. Well, my stress level these two weeks has been off the charts, but overall, I believe I’m less behind with work and I have more time to do other things.

I must admit that part of the reason is because I don’t go out as much anymore, but I believe there are a couple of other reasons that my lifestyle has improved a bit.

  • Slow mornings/nights

I have morning classes almost every day. On those days, even though I start my morning feeling productive, I also feel like I’m rushed by something. I'm realizing it’s easier to feel burnt out this way, though.

That’s why on the weekends, I like sleeping in and taking my time to get ready. If you think that slow mornings will somehow affect your productivity, then try a "slow nights" routine. Stay away from your computer for an hour before you sleep, and then do something that is not rushed: write a diary entry, or do whatever you want to do.

  • Attend lectures

Towards the end of last semester, I gradually stopped attending online lectures for one of my classes because I knew they were recorded. And if it happened once, I know it could happen again.

This semester, I set a goal to attend every lecture. It’s going great so far. I spend less time outside of class trying to understand the content when I attend every lecture and try my best to focus on what I’m learning, which means I get more time to either do more practice or engage in other activities.

It’s alright if you feel distracted during the lecture and want to leave the Zoom meeting, but I believe it makes a difference when you’re making the effort to even find the Zoom link and attend a bit of it.

  • Prioritization

It’s extremely difficult to do everything. I’m always tempted to complete every single task that a course gives, no matter if the activity is optional or not. It’s challenging to do that though, especially if you’re doing a full-course load.

Now, I’m not telling you to not complete your assignments. You still have to submit the assignments that you’re assigned 🤓

But for many courses, they usually give you extra (optional) activities or strategies to help with your studying. What’s important is that you assess which ones work for you and spend your time on that task. When we can't do everything, prioritization is key.

  • Scheduling, especially with your hangouts

Something I’m stricter with myself this semester is scheduling, even for my hangouts. I’m always more of a spontaneous person, but I guess a downside to that is that my time is always more open to other people rather than myself. I’m always saying “okay” to last-minute plans, and that can really have an impact on my progress. I noticed that being too spontaneous with plans actually perpetuates procrastination: I’m going out because if I do, I don’t have to face this assignment.

Scheduling hangouts sounds very formal, but I promise that it’s quite casual. This is how I do it: I keep my Friday nights open for hangouts unless I really need the time to stay in and rest. I also make sure to ask my friends ahead about their weekend plans, so that I can schedule them into my Fridays. When I’m already doing something at other times, such as studying or resting, I reject last-minute plans, unless I really feel like going out.

Regardless of how stressed you are at this moment, I hope you’re at least taking one night off for yourself, like a Friday or a Saturday evening. Whether you’re going out or staying in, remember to make the time to do things that keep you happy.

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