Top Tips for Organisation at University
New year, you promised yourself that you'd be on top of things and motivate yourself yet somehow, you've binge watched Friends on Netflix, again and popped to the pub for 'one' too many times. Not to worry, we've ALL been there, especially during the January blues so follow these tips and hopefully you'll start February in the right way...
1) Plan!!! if you're a 3rd year student you'll know that balancing deadlines is a constant stress. With so many modules and a dissertation to write - how do you prioritise and ensure that you're giving each piece your all? well I start by writing it all down so that it's clear in front of me. Then I look at when everything is due so that I can set myself deadlines. I'm not one of those people that works well under pressure so I try to start assignments about a month in advance because I like lots of time to research and go back through it. Start the research early too, that way you have plenty of time to learn as much as you can and adapt your assignments if necessary.
2) This point is also about planning - for my dissertation I have set myself mini deadlines for each chapter. Your dissertation is all about being independent and managing your own time so to ensure that you don't leave it until the last minute, try to plan everything out. I've worked everything back from the deadline and written a to-do list. I'm going to aim to write a few hundred words each day so that I'm constantly producing work and can constantly re-evalauate it.
3) To-do list - the classic tip. Write down everything you aim to do that day. I used to write down SO many things that just weren't realistic so stick to your main aims and things you'll be capable of so that you don't feel disappointed if you don't tick everything off. I like to make my lists pretty too so that I don't feel bored or sick of looking at them - it can also be a time for mindfulness in your busy schedule.
4) Take time for you - you cannot be productive 24 hours a day. You need to give yourself breaks and figure out when you work most productively and know your limits. Evenings are for me time so I rarely do work after dinner because otherwise I'll go to bed stressed. I write down everything I need to do the next day and leave it at that. But some people work really well at night instead so just make sure that you have time to chill and de-stress. I tend to light candles, read or watch something to undwind.
5) sleep well, be active and eat well - all three of these things are key components of a healthy and productive lifestyle. I need at least eight hours sleep and you'll know if I haven't because I simply cannot function. I eat frequently and try to make my meals colourful and nutritious because my insides feel great and I tend to be more productive when I feel good in myself and my mind. I also like to take breaks for the gym / walking outside to de-stress and release some endorphins. I recently took a HIIT class in the park which was super therapeutic to be in the fresh air and surrounded by greenery (although I thought I was going to die at the time). A good morning / nighttime routine is vital too, but create your own and explore what feels good for you.
6) Tidy your space - the thought of working in a messy room absolutely terrifies me. The first thing I do when I wake up is make my bed and clean my room. When everything is in the right place and looks tidy my mind feels so at peace. It's definitely true that a tidy room = a tidy mind. Plants, flowers, books, candles, fairy lights etc all make me feel really peaceful and at ease so I like to do work in my room. Make yourself a mellow playlist to have on in the background and just zone out into your own world to focus.
7) Switch up your working areas - I often do work in my bedroom sprawled on my bed. That doesn't work for everyone, just as the library doesn't work for me. But sometimes having a study session at a local coffee shop or the SU gives my brain the little push that it needed. A fresh perspective and new environment can switch a cell on inside of your brain and suddenly everything seems clearer. You can also grab a hot chocolate and brownie which always helps.
8) Start NOW - 'I'll be productive tomorrow' or 'I'll start Monday' isn't good enough. Start at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon and get as much done as you can. I don't know why we've got into the habit of putting everything off when we're not actually doing anything right now. It's such a waste of time. Obviously you need off days and I totally have days watching Netflix in my pjs, but if you're having multiple of those - something probably needs to change.
9) Set time limits on your phone - if you're prone to scrolling through Instagram like me and have a habit of reaching for your phone after every paragraph then set timers! I've got a 30 minute limit on social media a day. Sometimes I ignore the alarm if I'm searching for inspiration or having some time out, but it reminds me if I'm mindlessly having a browse so that I can catch the habit and stop it.
"Your greatness is not what you have, it's what you give"