It happens every year. You start strong, plan well and the first semester races by in a blur. However, by the time the second semester rolls around you feel burnt out and ready for another summer break. Getting the most out of the second half of the year relies on being as motivated and organised as you were for the first, beating the winter blues and remaining in the right head space. It is a great time to set new goals, both for your studies and outside activities.
1 - Refocus and reassess
The mid-year break is the perfect time to see how your study and life balancing tactics have worked. If it is your first year at uni, devising a plan that works can be a matter of trying a few things over the course of the year and adjusting as necessary. If you’re in your second or third year of study, you probably have a way of working that suits you, but it is always a good idea to see how you are tracking. Take a look at your finances and see where you can save a bit of money, check that your study tactics and systems for getting things done have yielded the best results possible, and set new goals for the second half of the year. Being winter, it is also important to ensure you are healthy and have everything you need to avoid being derailed by illness.
2 - Value your downtime
Like working full time, studying requires you to strike a balance between working and recharging. This doesn’t mean slacking off and saving all your work until the last minute. Instead, your downtime should be as focused as possible and designed to help you succeed. Is Twitter, Facebook, or any social media, all that relaxing? Does binging on Netflix make you feel revitalised and happy? Your activities need to add as much to your life as your studies do and it will be more beneficial both mentally and physically to exercise or read a book somewhere quiet, rather than slouch in front of the TV for a few hours. Spending time with friends is also important, but it is also vital to say ‘no’ sometimes. The social aspects are a huge part of the university experience, but they aren’t the main ones. Creating the balance between study and relaxation is about taking control and making the most of your downtime, and sometimes that means sacrificing a Tuesday pub crawl to be at your best Wednesday morning.
3 - A change of scenery
Studying can be a lonely experience, especially if the subjects you are working on don’t have a group work component included. This doesn’t mean you can’t study with a group or friend though. Engaging with other students can offer valuable insight into how other people are deciphering the subject and reinvigorate your passion for it. It will give you some perspective on where you sit in the pack and set your mind at rest or spur you on to work harder. Simply changing your study habits can be a good way of giving yourself a boost too. This can be as simple as working at a café or in a park, moving to a different room in the house or another part of the library.
4 - Reward yourself for your progress
When you plan your goals, make sure you give yourself something fun to look forward to. It could be a trip away for the weekend or your favourite band’s concert. It could be smaller, such as a nice dinner out or even just taking the day off to play video games all day. When you reach a goal, you should reward yourself and acknowledge your success, before moving on to the next thing. These pit stops are important to help you remain motivated and keep your spirits up when you feel under pressure.