“Assiduity, it means sit down until you do it. Commit yourself to your work and study.” ― Lucas Remmerswaal, The A-Z of 13 Habits
So, we've rounded that corner - the finish line is in sight, and the studies 'may' be over... I'm talking of course about how every single student must be feeling around about now. Exhibition out of the way, final assessments due - too bad they're not my best work - but it's three weeks 'til the end and 'the brain capacitator' is fried. No, not freed, fried.
So how did we all fair. Perhaps life and studies has become so complicated that we weren't able to put in as much as we had hoped - many students feel disappointed by their attempts to juggle life, family and friends, physical activities, work, studies and such. At the end of the day, life's priority is to improve and maintain, so sure, they're all important. Probably not in that particular order, but all important, all the same.
Initially I thought I'd call this entry 'studying and how to get your sh*t done', but as it's three weeks later than expected, I think perhaps my studies have also invaded my writing space. BUT, that is my choice - I re-prioritised and decided blog entry wasn't going to finish a chapter of my studies. So, I guess the first suggestion here is prioritise your work and life. Everybody needs to work - especially if you're paying your own way for the studies - but perhaps if you had more buy in from your work colleagues, friends and family, it wouldn't be so awkward to ask for time out to complete a task, or skip a night out to get yourself back on track. Again, its about priorities. If you acknowledge that you have committed (financially and emotionally) to your studies don't feel so hard done by when you have to say 'no'. And that's another one, learn to say 'no', you'll be very surprised when your realise just how many people would love to pursue their dreams, retrain or just respect your 'space'. Take that day off from work every four weeks to catch up - can you REALLY not miss one day? Really? And plan that one day into your studies. Trimesters are 14 weeks, that's about three days a trimester. If a day is too much, how about half a day? Now, if you were really clever about it, you could switch everything off for a Saturday afternoon, and get it all done then.
Active study doesn't always mean reading, and writing, and lectures, and reading some more. Some times it can be in the form of reflective study - read it, discuss it with some one (who cares, of course) and talk to yourself about it. Did you ever learn to skim read and focus on the more important parts of a topic? Perhaps you should learn how to do that. Don't skim read everything - word of caution - just because you're skimming, doesn't mean you're taking any of the topic in, which is why reflective study is good - passive study is bad.
Set goals - that old gem. You know you've got x amount of lessons per week - don't not go - even if you're behind. Nine times out of ten, something important is discussed in the class that enhances your chances of success. Those people who come to class and zone out - you know who I'm talking about - perhaps you have the right idea... even though you're not entirely there, hopefully you're absorbing some part of the discussions. But on that note - why go to the class, and not participate? If it's a practical class, you're going to be doing practical things - do them along with the class (after a double shot of coffee), keeps you from asking the same questions the following weeks.
Which brings me back to the setting goals - you know how many classes you have, you know how many hours you're expected to do outside of class, so set 2-3 hour blocks for study outside of class and do the deed. Home time should be quiet, away from distraction (if ONLY we could turn our facebook switches off!). This study time could also include video and podcast tutorials and perhaps a blog or two. Set time for planning when your assessments are due and how they're going to fit into your week - and for goodness sake, read the assessments. Work towards understanding what academia may be asking for. That's why they're written.
On the priority plate - pressure cookers: you know the students who love to leave everything last minute, because they work well under pressure. Yep, I'm guilty of this too... but, never underestimate how much time something is going to take you. If you're going to read and do an assessment last minute, remember: a. the person marking it, probably knows when something took you 30 minutes, instead of 5 hours.... it's not that difficult to spot. And b. what have you gained from it? Did you do the readings and understand the texts, or problems? Did you do the preliminary investigations and reflections to be able to say, I know why I did this and the next time I do it, it'll be better and (THEN) take me less time to do? c. You're probably going to have to rewrite it anyway. And that's not fun.
Automate your learning - so what I mean by this is, have a daily feed sent to your email on a subject you're studying. If you're studying typography for example, get a font site's daily update of 'font of the day', or governmental updates if you're studying Environmental Sustainability. It all counts. How about electronic calendars, social networking with other students and lecturers? Online portals and such.... a word of caution: what you find about all of these, is they are the digital clutter you receive as 'beeps and pings', unless you keep to the routine of reading and maintaining them. It really doesn't take long to set up a routine, but it does take a lifetime to maintain it. Some students learning a subject actually finish a prac in class and then post it directly onto social media sites, such as facebook - very cool, now they don't just have family and friend buy in - they have potential clients in the making... yep, you know what I'm talking about.
So, one last point - meet with your fellow students, get to know them, relax at home with your family, take time to stay focused and calm. At no time during the study should these things be neglected (oh the irony!). You're not disappearing from the world for 1-5 years while you slog through studies, you're developing a range of new skills which make you a. hirable b. happy and c. to a degree, envied. So, stay calm, have fun and look at the big picture. At the end of the day, you chose to study further, and you're going to reap the benefits.
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Tanya is a traditional and digital artist, living in Brisbane and inspired by all that is 'Art'.