Although this is only my third semester at uni, I notice something of a trend emerging. At the beginning of each semester, I find myself reflecting on the previous one to prepare for the next. This is a somewhat depressing process, as it involves acknowledging the many shortcomings in my studying technique. I’ve found that it doesn’t matter how dedicatedly I attend to these flaws, there is always something to be improved upon. I guess “improvement” is a very optimistic term, of course assuming that I have stuck to the study regime I carefully plan for myself at the beginning of each semester. The painful reality is that once fully in the throes of the semester, by about week 3, I have almost completely lost my resolve to conform to anything beyond a free-style study plan. However, even though here I am readily acknowledging the futility of these resolutions, I simply cannot resist making them. I am hoping that my newfound emphasis on reasonable expectations will mean that maybe, just maybe, this time they might take!
- Be organised from the startThis is a slight modification from my usual vague pledge to simply “be organised”. This time, I am endeavouring to have all my study plans done before the semester starts, so I don’t waste time (procrastinating) in the first week compiling them. I am making a head start on my reading so that I don’t get overwhelmed and overtaken by the workload as soon as semester starts, so hopefully I can stay afloat through periods of heavy assessment. To avoid the traditional list of podcasts to catch up on over mid semester break, this semester I am going to attempt to attend all the classes I can from the start. Of course, this doesn’t seem like a particularly difficult undertaking; but after enjoying sleep-ins over the holidays, getting out of bed and to uni on time for a 9 o’clock class can be a bit of a struggle.
- Be prepared for “reasonable” procrastinationOk, so an edit on my usual promise to avoid procrastination. This time, the emphasis is on preparation. It’s there, lingering beneath the surface of my teetering workload, waiting for the most inopportune moment to rear its ugly head. I’m not proud of it, but I have been known to procrastinate on occasion (well, more than I care to admit to myself). Luckily, I can be consoled in that I’m not alone, as the big P features in many an assignment war story. To manage the stress it all too often causes, however, I am factoring it into my study plan so a healthy dose of procrastination will not interfere. My core readings will be done at least a week in advance and my assignments will be a progressive effort. This is to prepare for the dreaded procrastination epidemic that descends at around mid-semester. In doing so, I am hoping I can be immune from any negative repercussions that arise from contracting this study-suppressing scourge.
- Work towards better balanceBalance has been a work in progress since starting uni for me. Having to juggle the stresses of moving out of home (not the least of which was learning how to take care of myself), as well as working to support myself and adjusting to the expectations of uni, well, suffice it to say, it took much longer than overnight to master. In previous semesters I have tried to achieve focus, promising to dive into the turbulent waters of studying with no backwards glance. I have gone cold turkey from life; cutting back on work hours, cooking and washing at home only when necessary, and I have missed out on going to the movies for months on end. Unfortunately, this did not work as I expected, creating isolation more than anything. So this semester I am vowing to go easier on myself, and to be patient. This semester, I simply want to move one step closer to achieving the balance in which success thrives without incessant stressing!
- Reframe and engage in the topics to foster long-term interestThis is actually a trick I learned from class last semester, and I am hoping to try it out for those mini topics that tend to crop up from time to time in the midst of an otherwise interesting subject. Apparently, by reframing a topic in terms of something that is inherently interesting to us, we can better engage in a topic. The way I am interpreting this is that by considering otherwise boring topics in a real and interesting context, I can improve my motivation, memory and ultimately results. Work that doesn’t seem like work; better recall and understanding? Sounds like a win to me! Of course, this strategy should only be used in moderation, lest you will question why you’re doing the course you’ve picked at all.
- Pace my effort across the semesterEvery student feels the burn of pressure towards the end of semester, as we creep ever closer to the point of sheer exhaustion. Having seen the devastating consequences of crossing that line, I am gearing up early to stay well on this side of the deadly burn out. I am telling myself that I will, in fact, make a substantial start on my assessment items as they come to my notice so I can better pace the effort to be invested in them. That being said though, I am going to be more aware of how I work and play to my strengths. As it turns out, my productivity soars under pressure, so I am practicing manufacturing pressure for myself to get my work done in a timely fashion. Of course, there is nothing like a due date to get that ever-inspiring adrenaline racing, but we have to make the best of what we have. Hopefully I can successfully employ other incentives as motivators throughout the semester to keep both my effort and productivity consistent.So, those are my resolutions for this semester. Wish me luck in keeping them! Surely I’m not the only one with resolutions? Hopefully there are some common themes!