I am proud to announce today’s guest blog post by author, Lucinda Curran.
Being a student is such an exciting time – the buzz of learning new information, making new friends and discovering more about yourself all make it memorable.
Yet, there is the pressure, the timetables and the deadlines… Making it tough to maintain a healthy life balance.
So, as the semester gets going, it is important to do some planning so that you not only meet your deadlines, but that you do so with ease, and ensure that you are taking care of your well-being.
I love studying, and at any given moment, I am always studying something. What I am going to share with you is the method that got me through one of the heaviest study period of my life. At one stage, I had 23 contact hours per week (classes and lectures) and well over 30 assessments per semester – and that went on for 5 years!
Here are my 5 steps to maintaining a healthy balance.
5. Creating Goals
I always recommend having a clear picture of what it is all about.
- Why are you studying?
- What will your life be like once you have completed this qualification?
- What will your work life be like?
Take some time to sit with these questions and really “get to know” your answers. Then, on a piece of paper, either draw or write down your answers.
These images and ideas are something that you will want to draw on when the pressure mounts (like during exam time). Having your goal clearly in your mind will give you the incentive, passion and motivation to get through.
4. Self Care
Taking care of yourself is vital. Student life is a lot about what I call the input-output cycle.
You go to lectures and tutorials and soak up information, you read your texts and other work, and you think, converse and play with new concepts. Then you write assignments, essays and exams. There are a lot of demands on a student.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, studying can weaken the digestive organs as well as create stagnation. So, from this point of view, I recommend maintaining a good diet of foods that are seasonal and easy to digest (soups, stews and casseroles are great meals for students as they are easy to prepare and can be eaten over several days). I also recommend exercise to help maintain your body – anything from walking to cycling, kick boxing to tai chi. Exercise will also help you to reduce your stress levels.
Other than that, make a list of the things that YOU enjoy – that you find nourishing and nurturing.
3. Assessing Your Semester
Once you start each of your subjects, you will have an insight into how much time you will need to spend on each subject, what your assessments are and when they occur.
You will also know your timetable – when your classes are, when study groups are meeting and so on.
On a calendar, mark which assessments are due, examinations are taking place, any field trips and so on.
2. Sorting Out Your Week
Here comes the fun bit… But, it does make me think of Rimmer from Red Dwarf. If you aren’t familiar, Rimmer is a fictional character who procrastinates by creating a timetable for his studies. He spends so much time creating it, color-coding it and making it look nice that there is no time left to study!
You’re going to do a simple and quick version of Rimmer’s masterpiece.
Simply draw up your week so it fits onto a page – I prefer days along the top, and times down the side (in hourly lots). For the rest of it, I suggest using one color for each area of your life.
Now, write in your classes, study groups, work and any other fixed commitments. Don’t forget to include travel time.
Next, fill in a daily activity for you – so, bring out your list from step 4 above and write in what you feel is humanly manageable.
Then, fill in study time – research, reading, and writing… I recommend blocking time in for each subject. Break this up so that every 90 minutes, you take 15 minutes to shift your focus. This could be enjoying a cup of tea, walking around the block or meditating. These mini-breaks will refresh, reenergize and refocus you. It is amazing how much more productive you can be when you schedule and take these breaks.
Fill in chores – they still need to get done. Things like cleaning, cooking, doing the groceries… Make sure you plan time to prepare your good food. I used to use Sunday afternoons for this – I would cook for the week and make good use of the freezer, freezing meals in portion sizes.
Reflect back on your plan. Is it overfilled? Have you got space to catch up if you need to? To rest? To have fun? If not, revise it so that you do. If so, well done!
This is the most important step. This is the one that will help you get through with a smile.
Like in Step 5, where we talked about the ultimate goal, this step provides you with mini-goals.
At the start of every week, schedule in something that is just for fun. This is your reward for the week. It can be used to push you through those times where you just don’t want to do any study… For example, “I can go to the comedy club on Thursday if I get my work done.”
You can have daily rewards to, such as, having dinner with friends if the whole day’s work is completed in time.
Remember that you can do anything in life, as long as you dearly want to. Shine and Succeed.
Lucinda Curran © 2014
Lucinda Curran has always been a student of life and has enjoyed exploring, being challenged and inspired by all that life offers. She embraces learning on every level, having completed her MA, Bachelor of Health Science and more.
Her greatest passion is health: health of people, animals and the planet. Thus she is a Chinese medicine practitioner and Building Biologist with a special interest in environmental sensitivities. She combines these modalities to provide truly holistic healthcare and is passionate about making the world a safer place for all who dwell here.
She the author of Change Your Life: 50 Daily Meditation-Affirmations That Anyone Can Do and Conversations About The Self: Exploring Ideas From Change Your Life Radio. Lucinda is also the producer and host of the weekly Change Your Life Radio show.
Click here to view Lucinda’s Book Trailers. Check out the following links to buy Lucinda’s books!
Conversations About The Self: Exploring Ideas From Change Your Life Radio
Change Your Life: 50 Daily Meditation-Affirmations That Anyone Can Do