In my previous blog, I started a conversation about the issues of working, life, family and studying. The challenges are real, and the trifecta of time, energy and location is often times a real challenge. I might ‘feel’ like studying, but there is a whānau event, I might have the time to study, but I don’t feel like it, and sometimes the desire to study is there, and there is nothing else happening, but the couch is just too warm, and the office too cold.
In the first half of this blog, I covered the ideas 1-4 of what I call “always something”. In a nutshell, they are;
- Do something for ‘Future-You’
- Think small
- Map out your time
‘Future-You’ likes it when ‘Right-Now-You’ does something little to make the future easier, tidy the desk, find the reading for the morning study session. Read, sometimes this is easier than writing, I find it usually leads to writing anyway, but I can trick myself to think I’m ‘just reading.’ Thinking small is cutting big tasks down into manageable bite sizes. If you have a book to read, try 10 pages, which is more manageable than a whole book. And number four was a time map, you might be surprised where you can find 30mins in each day (adds up to 3.5 hours a week) and pop a bit of study in there.
In this section, I provide four more ideas to support you to remain engaged with your study.
Make contact with a fellow student
I’m not always going to want to focus on the assignment aspect of this study lark, but, connecting with a fellow student will hold me accountable. Asking how they are going, asking if they want a study date (coffee in a warm café while we moan about studying). It means the thoughts about study stay in my head. As long as I’m thinking about my study, I feel I’m making progress, achieving something. It puts my brain in the right frame of mind, and it helps to connect with peers who are in the same situation. Those connections are important – the journey is lonely, any connection is valuable.
Search one topic in the library
Again, the idea of doing hours of searching in the library might blind me with boredom, but if I ‘just look up one thing’ then I have a sense of achievement, as well as some (maybe) motivation to continue to look. Small bites of the task feel less overwhelming than trying to complete everything. On another note, make friends with the librarian, they love to help, and once they know your topic, will often let you know when things that relate to it come in.
This can be about anything, just email them. Tell them you wrote 100 words and you like them all (the words that is, not necessarily the supervisor), ask them a question, share a reference you found. Literally anything, it’s the art of staying in touch, the connection you need to be supported, the sense you are not alone, don’t let them forget you. Just stay in touch. You can start by asking them how they want to be contacted☺. TBH I hated contacting my supervisor, especially when I had done zero work, so I set up a calendar event, and when the reminder came up, I quickly did ’something’ (any of these pieces of advice would do), then I would email her. Knowing I had to make regular contact, as well as knowing I didn’t like to, meant it was easier to do so.
Reread something – and no Facebook doesn’t count as reading
Rereading articles or books that you have previously read means you are familiar with the content; this will make you think you are brainy and clever. It will give your brain a wee break from processing new information, and at the same time cement the older information more firmly in your brain. It will give you a confidence boost, and this is just what you need.
Well, there you have it, eight hopefully practical ideas to continue to study even when it’s hard.