If you’ve ever tackled multiple units at the same time, you’ll have realised that normally, they run in isolation from one another. This means that you could be bombarded with assessment due dates all in the same month, week or even day.
While a little stress perfectly normal, there’s no need to feel completely overwhelmed when you’ve got 5 smart survival tips in your back pocket.
1. Love a good list
List-making is a simple, quick and rather instinctual thing to do when you have one too many things on your mind. In fact, there’s more to the humble list than meets the eye. When you write something down, you let go of the tension associated with trying to harbour incomplete thoughts. It’s like backing up your work on an external hard drive; just knowing your brain is no longer solely responsible for that information is a huge relief, and allows you to relax and focus on the task at hand. As an added win, you get to cross off completed tasks, which is both motivating, and wildly satisfying.
2. Flex-ify your work environment
Changing up your physical position or location can have a huge impact on your clarity of mind. Doing this will prove easiest with a laptop, but if you don’t have one, working from documents stored online in the cloud will allow you flexibility. This could be as simple as typing your notes into an email, instead of a Word document, for access on any internet-connected computer. If you want to learn on the move, any study materials you can get (or transfer) into audio form are perfect. You might also consider a desk that converts to standing height, as standing can improve your circulation and get that blood pumping to your brain.
3. Work with your body clock
We’re not machines, and sometimes, we simply can’t work as efficiently as we need to. The trick to keeping as productive as possible is to listen to your body and work to its natural rhythms; taking into account when you have high or low levels of focus, and under which conditions. If you’re someone who needs a high level of scheduling, you can still work with your body’s rhythms if you schedule in downtime. To do this, you’ll need to identify what times of day you’re likely to get distracted or tired, and schedule in downtime to give your body the break it needs. If you usually get tired in the early evening, schedule in a Netflix session, or if you’ve got a long workday, schedule in some midday exercise so you’re refreshed in the afternoon.
4. Make human contact
Completing an assignment doesn’t necessarily mean locking yourself away in a room until you emerge with the next ‘Theory of Relativity’. You can (and should) go out to interact with other humans in the flesh. It’s not enough to chat online with a friend; when you meet them face-to-face, you ensure you’re getting a shift in environment, activity type and emotion. There’s nothing more refreshing than having a friend to talk out your frustrations with, and in many cases, they can act as a strong sounding board, off which you can bounce new ideas that wouldn’t occur to a stale, overworked brain.
5. Get sleep, not “sleep”
As much as we try to argue, sleep doesn’t come with an asterisk, and isn’t accompanied by a ‘but’ or an ‘if’. You need a certain number of hours sleep to function at your peak (it’s science guys!) There are many valid reasons why people don’t get the sleep they need, but your body can’t take these reasons into account – it just reacts as it sees fit. If you find it hard to get to sleep, there are a number of activities you should try to avoid within an hour of bedtime, which include exercise (and overheating your body), mentally demanding tasks, caffeine and bright light. If in doubt, remember that you need to wind down your body and mind, so anything that gets you buzzing should be saved for the daytime.
Assessments are a hard slog, even for the lucky few with comfortably spaced out assessment dates. It’s important to treat yourself with kindness during this challenging period, and with any hope, this kindness will be rewarded with stronger academic results. Best of luck!