Back to school basics
Back to school season is here.
And that means new stationery! (Don’t judge me, I know you love new pens too.)
This time of year for a lot of us is all about new beginnings. New courses, new classes, new friends, new struggles and new successes. It’s daunting, stressful and tiring, but it’s a chance to start afresh and to broaden our minds (cringe). I’ll do my best to not sound like a university prospectus, although I think I’ve already failed on that one… I’ll outline below a few of the ways I get myself ready to go back to uni and get back into a productive mindset.
organisation is key
If you need to, stock up on new stationery. Pens, highlighters, notepads, folders and dividers. Get it all together, figure out what you have, don’t have, and what needs refreshing. A lot of stationery shops (Paperchase, for example) do student discounts and good 3 for 2 type deals, so keep an eye out for those. You don’t want to be scrambling around for a pen at the bottom of your bag amongst chocolate bar wrappers and receipts (which is exactly what my bag looks like…).
That brings me to my next point. Organise the bags you’ll be using for school. For me, this means getting my rucksack ready. I leave my pencil case in there along with a water bottle, a reusable coffee cup, my glasses, and all the cards I need (ID, debit, uni card).
get ready to make sacrifices again
School and university obviously take up a hell of a lot of our time, even more so with out-of-hours work added on top of that. University in particular (some courses more than others) might mean few contact hours, but you’ll be expected to be doing a lot of independent study out of classes, seminars and lectures. Some courses are more practical, but others will have heavy reading lists. Either way, your social life will take a hit as work becomes a priority.
Be ready to have to say no to certain things. Prepare to not always be able to say yes to dinner with friends, a night out or a shopping trip, if deadline week is approaching. Sometimes work will have to come first and that’s okay, people will understand.
However, remember to have balance. It’s not healthy to squirrel away in your room once term begins and to never see your friends again! It’ll just make you miserable and probably unproductive. In reality, sparing a few hours to unwind is a must if you don’t want to burn out. The trick is – figuring out when and when not to prioritise work. If societies and clubs are your things then get involved when you get to university. There are societies for everything nowadays, so check out your student union website and see what suits you. Just make sure you don’t over-commit.
staying on top of work
The best way to do this is to look ahead at what your course or term requires from you work-wise. If you have essays at the end of term and the beginning of the next term like I do, then you’ll know that the end of the term is going to be busy, so you can get your readings done whilst you can earlier on. Keep some form of diary, online or on paper, and schedule in when you’re going to be snowed under with hand-ins and coursework. Even if they’re months away, it’s good to have them in the back of your head so you know when you can or can’t pencil other things in on top.
figure out what suits you
Are you a night owl or an early bird? Are libraries your place to study, coffee shops or common rooms?
Once you get into a routine, you should figure out how and when you work best. If you’re a night owl, the chances are you’re never going to be able to shift that and wake up and study early. There’s scientific fact behind it: if you’re more productive and work well late in the evening, that’s always going to be the case.
Different people also work well in different environments. I probably work best in a library where I don’t have much choice but to do my work. Sometimes I like to stay home so I can be in my PJs and have constant cups of tea, but it doesn’t always make me hugely productive. After a few weeks, you’ll probably figure out where you work best, whether it’s alone or with friends, out, or at home.
School or university won’t last forever, and the vast majority of people look back and say they miss it. It might not feel like you could ever imagine saying that right now, but it’s a super unique time of our lives where, for most of us, our main responsibility is just to learn and grow. Whilst it’s a massive challenge (and right now you might be totally hating your life), chances are you’ll miss it when it’s gone. Try and make the most of it and what it can offer you, and immerse yourself in it as much as you can.
Do you have any specific tips to get yourself back into a study mindset? Comment below if so!