I have never met a single person in my whole life who isn’t good at studying or learning. I have however met plenty of people who haven’t figured out yet how they learn best and many more who don’t plan far enough ahead and get all tangled up when the horizon the deadline was on is suddenly a few short metres away.
So, here’s a few things I’ve picked up along the way.
#1. Disregard the deadline you’re given.
Yep, that deadline is not the deadline! Try to set your personal deadline at least two weeks prior to the one given to you and get it written at the top of your work and in your diary, and as best as you can stick to that. The latest I ever finished a piece of work was four days before the university deadline- I had a series of setbacks including a dreaded corrupted file and the demise of my back up USB stick, but it was okay because I had time to save myself. Give you and your work some space to breath.
#2. Be procrastaductive.
1. delay or postpone action; put off doing something by preparing to make the task easier
"the stew she ate while studying in the library was the result of a procrastaductive afternoon"
postpone action, defer action, be dilatory, use delaying tactics, prepare, long game, play for time, plot, etc.
Being procrastaductive is a creation of my friend Becca and I. It is a mix of procrastinating and being productive, and usually this behaviour gets a bit of bad press, because it can express itself as making lists on lists on lists and pretending to be organised without actually making progress.
The difference here is that you do things that really will make a difference to your studying, like making your lunch ahead of time, taking time to pick out nice stationary that you enjoy writing with or making a playlist that you’re excited to work to. It can also be a day of following links on topics finding lots of interesting info around your subject and allowing yourself the freedom to be inquisitive that reminds you why you love what you study. Procrastination happens, but try and make the procrastination fruitful and related to your project in some way.
#3 Take breaks and keep your body happy
I am like a spaniel, when I’m undernourished in terms of social contact, exercise or daylight I am sad sad sad. I don’t do well when I’m inside too much but I need to be inside a lot to do my job and the research that I love too. It’s so easy to while away an hour scrawling around the web, my Buzzfeed habit devours hours of my life- but resist!
Go get some sun on your face, or some rain; it really doesn’t matter what the sky is doing. Take a twenty-minute walk, or a run a 5k around the Hoe. Go climb, go swim, go stretch. Giving your body what it needs makes getting the best out of your brain much easier.
#4 Track your work as you go
Plan what you want to achieve and track what you’re doing and how close you’re getting as you go. I would set myself a desired word count and home time and would write down how many words I had written each hour. This way I could see when I was slacking and needed to take a break and I would also be able to track how much later I would be getting home for the sake of scrolling through facebook or people watching, which on a summers day is a particularly good tactic to get yourself in gear and out of the library into the rays.
#5. Research first, write after
Dedicate a week or more to pure research, collect quotes, collect facts, images and books. You are a sponge, your note book is a sponge and your laptop is a sponge. Soak up as much information as you can and as you go write exactly where the information is from. I used to copy quotes into word and write the Harvard reference there and then so when I wanted to use it later I knew where to find it and had the reference ready to go, because as we all know referencing is foul and loathsome and anything to make it less painful is a gift from the gods.
Collect first and treat your word doc as an empty pool to squeeze your research sponges into, do not muddy the proverbial waters by trying to research while you write, it’ll only slow you down while your time evaporates!
I once saw a boy with three pringles tubes, a pack of donuts and a whopping hot chocolate, he was having a delicious buffet while working. I meanwhile was riddled with jealousy.
But aside from reaching into the tubes of crisps, the determination in his eyes and the speed of his touch typing was a wonder to behold. He was on it, he was prepared and he was in it for the long haul.
It isn’t healthy, but sometimes you just gotta get those naughty nibbles (try mix it up with goodies too though- peanut butter on slices of apple is a firm fave).
I hope something here helps you, good luck with all your work – you can do it! :)