Along the way, I have learnt a few things that push me forward and keep me going that I would like to share. Whatever your situation, student, or not, I hope that these tips are handy.
1. Study with me videos
These are a relatively new trend, in which a ‘studytuber’ (a person who creates study-related content on YouTube) films themselves studying. Some videos have music in the background, others have white noise, some are silent. Most videos have a timer in the corner, which I have found helpful for accountability and motivation; watching 2 hours slowly tick down to 00:00. I have enjoyed this virtual company, as I live on my own. I have enjoyed looking up for a minute or two, watching someone else read their book, or watch their background; perhaps people coming and going from a library. My favourite videos have lo-fi music in the background.
Friends who knew me whilst I did my A-Levels may remember that I liked listening to coffee-shop noises, however, every so often I would jump when a door slammed, or I would get distracted by overhearing someone’s conversation.
2. Know how you work best.
Just as I like to work with background noise, others may find that distracting. I’ve recently written my literature review for my dissertation, and I went through each book, highlighting different phrases with a colour code system. Then I wrote up all my quotes into a document, placing them in a table so I could easily see the key themes. To some, that may seem genius [*takes a bow*] and to others that may seem unnecessarily tedious. But I know that it works for me.
Some people work best and find motivation in waking early. I am not one of those people, especially during lockdown. However, I know that I can be productive in other ways in the morning, and I can essay-write from midday, almost non-stop, until evening.
3. Similarly, remind yourself that you are a person who can achieve things.
I had a lecturer in first year that said this as the class asked questions about how to write our first essay. “You need to remind yourself that you are a person who can achieve things”. If you’re struggling to study, then go and do something that will remind yourself that you can achieve things. Perhaps for you, that’s playing a video game, playing the guitar, drawing, baking a cake, gardening. Just because you’re struggling to study/work now in this moment, does not mean you cannot achieve things.
4. Treat yourself like a friend.
Would you tell your friend that they are so slow, so stupid, a failure? Would you tell your friend they aren’t good enough, aren’t working hard enough? Would you push your friend harder, despite the fact we’re in a pandemic and there’s so much heaviness around? Almost certainly not. Treat yourself like a friend. We’re in a pandemic, it’s understandable to have a lack of motivation, to feel more stressed. If, like me, you’re spending a lot of time in your own company, it’s easy to talk down on yourself, since there is nobody else there to say, “hey, that’s not true!” Perhaps in this season, you need to be your own friend, your own cheerleader.
I acknowledge that many people are unable to not work until 2pm, and they cannot stop what they’re doing to bake a cake, and that sometimes treating yourself as a friend is just too hard. I hope that the message of this blog is still relevant, and perhaps some of the ideas can be adapted for your situation.