Over a year ago now, I wrote the Part 1 post of this and said that Part 2 would follow a few weeks later… OOPS!
I wrote the Part 2 post, but with exams and stuff, I forgot to actually post it. I realised last week when I was going through some stuff, so I decided to post it for you guys now.
If you haven’t already read the Part 1 post, I’d recommend going and reading that first.
What I’ve Learned From 8 Years of Studying – Part 2
8. Making friends is easy – making lasting friendships takes longer
You will meet at least one person on the first day – maybe your roommate, the person you sat next to in orientation, a random that you meet wandering around on campus – but that person will not necessarily become your “best friend”. That person may not even progress to being an actual “friend”. That is OK.
Keep talking to different people, even after you think you’ve found your “core group”. You may find someone who you never though you’d be friends with at all, but then they end up being the one who is there to support you when everything goes to s***.
9. Sitting on the fence is fine – particularly in regards to people
You do not have to actively like or dislike anyone. This seems to be something that a lot of people have difficulty understanding. You can “nothing” someone – and by that I mean you can have no real feelings about a person in either a positive or negative direction.
There are plenty of people in my classes who I talk to when I see them in class, but I honestly feel nothing about them. I do not like or dislike these people. I do not actively pursue friendship with them, but neither do I actively avoid them. This is an idea I recommend you get used to while at university, because it is important for your working life. You WILL NOT be able to have emotions about every single person you work with, and you need to be able to deal with this and still work with people effectively.
10. Schedule ‘downtime’
Find something you enjoy doing, and schedule time for it. It could be cooking, spending time with friends, playing computer games, crafting, reading, or even watching TV.
Schedule this downtime. If you don’t, one of two things will happen – either you will work until you drop, or you’ll do the thing you enjoy heaps and ignore the stuff you should be doing.
How you organise this time will depend on your preferences – some people prefer to have a little bit of time every day, where as others prefer to have one whole day ‘off’ once a week. If you’re not sure, try both and see what works best for you, then stick with it.
11. Always have a snack with you
Having snacks with you will help keep your energy up and reduce the chances of you getting distracted due to hunger pangs. Bringing your own snacks is both more convenient and cheaper – you can’t really sneak out in the middle of a lecture without someone noticing, but you can generally nibble on some nuts without causing a disruption. Buying snacks from the cafeteria can also be quite expensive, and are often less healthy than what you bring yourself.
Stash things that are shelf-stable and reasonably un-crushable in your uni bag (like muesli bars, dried fruit, nuts, crackers) so that you always have something for snacking emergencies. You can pre-prep other more perishable snacks (like vege sticks, dips, fruit, cheese) in single-serve containers and store in the fridge for easy grabbing on the way out the door.
I also carry a stash of teabags and coffee sachets (the type with the creamer already added), in case I feel the need for something more than plain water. It is also worthwhile to carry your own cup or mug, as most cafes/coffee shops will give you boiling water for free if you have your own mug. If you have access to a tea room or student lounge with boiling water, that’s even more convenient!
12. Good food is important
Related to #12 – don’t fall into the trap of eating crappy convenience food. Your brain and your body will not thank you for it.
You need good food and a balanced diet to power your body and brain. If you’re on a meal plan, take an extra couple of seconds to evaluate the food options and their health merits. It might be as simple as adding some salad or steamed veges to your plate instead of that extra scoop of the (admittedly delicious) potato bake. If you cook for yourself, schedule some time every week to plan your meals and assemble them (along with your snacks).
I can speak from experience here – if you have a yummy meal in the fridge or freezer that will take <10 minutes to be ready to eat, you are far less likely to get takeaway, because it will take longer than what you already have on hand.
Research ‘copycat’ recipes, so that you can make your favourites and have them on hand when you have a craving for something (like mexican or chinese).
13. Get dressed
Even if you’re not planning on leaving your room/house, it really is worth getting changed out of your PJs into real clothes.
There seems to be something about wearing PJs all day that is the enemy of productivity. Getting changed (even if it’s just to put on trackpants instead) seems to say to your brain “OK, we’re going to do stuff today”.
If you’re feeling off or unwell, having a shower can also help you feel a little better.
Only wearing your PJs when you’re actually sleeping is also good for keeping your sleep patterns in check – association and conditioning are powerful things!
14. Housework is not your enemy
I am the first person to admit that I don’t particularly like housework. I always feel that it is taking away from other ‘more important’ work that I could be doing – which is actually rubbish.
As much as I have fought the idea for so long, a tidy living space really does help make you more productive. Clean, tidy spaces help calm the mind, and sometimes housework itself can be calming.
I don’t tend to like doing the dishes, folding washing, ironing, or cleaning the bathroom – but it all becomes far less onerous if you put on a TV show/movie you like, or listen to an audiobook/podcast.
If you feel like you really can’t afford to not be studying, watch lectures or summary videos of the topics you need to review.
15. Get active
Exercise helps you learn, and moving around freely (like walking in a park or hiking) can even increase your creativity! You won’t get the same creativity boost by walking on a treadmill, but any activity that isn’t sitting at your desk will help with a motivation slump.
Sometimes all you need to resurrect your motivation and focus is a quick active break – even a 10 minute walk around the block can help. If you’re feeling like you need a nap, try some quick exercise first – it will probably ward off the sleepy feelings.
The same principles apply to exercise as for housework – jazz it up by listening to an audiobook or podcast. You could also try doing some reading (textbook or recreational), or watching TV/lectures while on the treadmill or elliptical. Just BE CAREFUL – if you’re on anything with independently moving parts, getting distracted puts you at risk of getting injured. Stick to listening only if you’re jogging or running, you don’t want to get yourself hurt!
Hope you can find something helpful from this, and best of luck to you all for your studies!