You might have noticed that the blog posts from me have been few
and far between recently…
That’s because at the beginning of this month I started my Masters, woop woop! It’s a distance learning course so I get to work at the same time, but I had to stay at the University for a week for my induction period. It was quite exciting actually, being able to stay in a new place and discover what the town has to offer, and the tutors and other people on my course were really friendly and helpful, so I’m quite at ease about the whole thing. I think I would have been majorly disadvantaged had I not been able to go!
Anyway, it got me thinking about different blog posts I could write in the future and I thought I would share with you some tips for juggling work, study and play. I imagine a fair few of you reading this now are either at or have been to uni, so feel free to add extra advice in the comments below 🙂
10 Tips for Studying at Home
1. Keep a calendar or diary close by. This one sounds so obvious but how else are you going to know when your assignments are due? Personally I’m a very visual person so I like to have a planner on my wall, that way I can see exactly how many weeks there are until the next deadline.
2. Study in the same place each time. I know it’s tempting to move around the house and study in front of the tv, at work during a lunch break or even at a friend’s house, but studies show that you actually remember more information if you study in the same place. It also means you can leave your books open and literally carry on where you left off because you won’t have to waste time unpacking your things every time and settling down! Try to pick somewhere quiet with lots of space and good lighting. It’s also a good idea to pick a room with a door so that you can close it or put up a sign to signify that you are busy, and try to pick somewhere different to your regular living areas, ie. not your bedroom or your living room. You need a place where mentally you can switch to ‘study mode’ without associating it with any distractions.
3. Drink lots of fluids. Always have a drink by your desk so you don’t get dehydrated. It’s good for your brain power too!
4. Keep a study timetable. For me, each week is different, so I’ve literally printed out a blank timetable per week and filled it in by hand. Write in all your fixed commitments first and then schedule any other commitments and study time around it. That means you can still go to that important Birthday meal, as long as you pencil your study time in somewhere else to make up for it.
5. Keep a notebook by your side when reading. If you find a quote that you think will be useful, write it down – and don’t forget to write what book it’s from and what page numbers, so you can jump back to it later. It comes in SO useful when referencing too!
6. Speaking of referencing, don’t save them for last!! Every time you mention a quote in your essay add the references at the bottom, that way you won’t have to try and remember the title so you can re-borrow it from the library. But remember, if you decide to remove the quote from your work, remove the reference too!
7. If you’re not sure about something, don’t suffer in silence, email your tutor or ask one of your peers for guidance. By no means do I mean copy their work, but they may be able to explain, rephase or give you examples so that things are easier to understand.
8. Set yourself mini-goals. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day! If you say to yourself “today I’m going to read 2 chapters” then you can always try to out-do your target if you feel you can. You can give yourself rewards if you like as a helpful incentive, for example, “for every chapter I read, I can watch one episode of ________”, or “once I finish this module I will treat myself to a ________”
9. Let other people know! If you make people aware that you are studying for a certain qualification, chances are they’ll be a lot more understanding and will give you the time and space you need.
10. Enjoy it! Yes, there will be highs and there will be lows, but you only get out what you put in, so if you’re studying a subject you don’t enjoy or believe in, then you shouldn’t be studying it! If you’re studying at uni, you’re there because you chose and have paid to do so. Don’t waste your opportunity.