When I first moved into student halls two years and a term ago, I thought I was prepared for University. In college, I had always been a straight A student and with my parents working full-time, I had learnt to take care of myself and my two younger siblings. Honestly though, I was not prepared. Since I was no longer living under the influence of my parents, there was no one to tell me to go to bed by a certain time or to force me to eat my vegetables, and both my physical and mental health suffered as a result. I have previously talked about how to maintain your mental health whilst at University, linked here, but have never written a post on how to work to the best of your ability before.
Tip 1: Maximise Your Sleep
Sleep has countless benefits including improved memory and attention, lowered stress levels and helping to maintain a healthy weight. In University, it is common to sleep less than the recommended daily time of 7 hours due to the increased workload and nights out, since the majority of University students are 18 years old or older, which is the legal drinking age in England. Therefore it is important to maximise the sleep that you are getting. One way to do this is to monitor your sleep cycle and set an alarm for when you are in the lightest part of the sleep cycle, ensuring that you wake up feeling refreshed. A paid app that does this is Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock although I am sure that other apps exist.
Tip 2: Make Sure You Are Getting All the Nutrients Your Body Needs
First and second year of University, I would cook whatever I wanted for lunch and dinner without paying attention to what I was eating. It was only when I started looking into the nutritional value of food and adapting my eating habits accordingly that I noticed a huge different in my physical health. The app and website I use to do this is called Cronometer where you enter the food and drink you have consumed that day and it tells you what nutrients you are lacking in your diet. It is not a totally accurate score as it is hard to enter the exact portions you have used but gives an estimate of what type of foods you need to eat more. It also tells you the calories consumed but I tend to ignore this value and just eat when I am hungry and until I am satisfied.
Tip 3: Find the Time of Day You Work Best and Utilise It
Personally, I work best in the evenings – I struggle to concentrate early in the mornings as often I am tired and find that I am too restless in the afternoons. Therefore when I am planning my days, I concentrate most of my plans with friends and family in the mornings and afternoons, leaving my evenings free for work. Where I can, I tend to wake up later so I can go to bed later and allow myself longer to do the work I need to do. Obviously there are some times when I cannot do this such as when I have a morning lecture or if I am going out for dinner and drinks with a friend, but I try to adopt this habit as often as possible.
Tip 4: Find How You Work Best and Utilise It
Different studying habits work for different people. I have a friend who works best in silence alone in their room whilst I have another friend who works best with their motivational playlist on in the library. Personally, I work best with piano music playing, in the library, with a friend beside me. Find how you work best, even if this means trying different ways for a few weeks, and use it.
Tip 5: Take 5 Minutes Each Day for Organisation
Before I go to bed at night, I take 5 minutes to hole-punch my lecture handouts from the day and place them in a folder in the correct module section. Not only does this mean I never lose a lecture handout, it means all my lecture handouts are in the same place and ordered when the time comes to study. I also use my agenda to write a ‘To-Do’ list for the following day along with any events I have including lectures and meetings with friends. This means that I know what I am doing the next day and where I need to be at what time so I do not have to worry in the morning.
Hopefully at least one of these tips has been helpful to you. Comment below your number one tip for surviving University or school in general.