So you’re planning to study in 2017. We’re as excited as you are. The New Year is a perfect time to set your study goals and create a plan for your year of success. Here are our top New Year resolution tips before your start:
1. Write down your goals
The secret to success is to set goals and make a plan to achieve them. So, take the time now to work out what you want to achieve and then plan how you will get there.
Use tools like Mind Mapping or create a vision board to establish your goals. A vision board is a collection of images and words that remind you of and inspire your goals. When you are clear about your vision of success and what that looks like for you, then create a timeline for when you want to achieve your goals (hot tip: include your assessment deadlines).
Make your 2017 resolution to be resolute about what you want to achieve!
2. Be productive
Plan to be productive and make the most of the sometimes limited time you have. As a student, you’ll soon be juggling timetables, lectures, tutorials, assignments, deadlines, family, life and career. Phew!
There are productivity apps on the market that help you get organised and make the most of your time such as Trello (for project managing your tasks), Pomodoro (to set time management targets whilst having fun) and Toggl (for tracking your time). Try them, they help!
Perhaps you’d prefer to do it the old-fashioned way – buy a new diary, keep your goals in it and organise your time and schedule. You will not only feel better when you know what you need to do, you will achieve more.
3. Move more
Regular exercise can boost your memory, improve concentration and support your mental health. And research backs it up. University of Queensland researchers report that “physical exercise is equally important as cognitive exercise in maintaining a healthy brain”.
Interestingly, the hippocampus grows the fitter we become observes neuroscientist Ben Martynoga, who is a visiting scholar at Francis Crick Institute in London. He says this part of the brain is responsible for improving memory (great for studying for exams) and concentration (to help focus on those tricky problem solving activities).
And let’s not forget, exercise is a great way to reduce the likelihood of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and support weight loss. General advice recommends 30-45 minutes of movement that makes you sweat at least three to five times a week.
The Australian Government Department of Health suggests 2.5 to 5 hours a week of moderate intensity physical training and muscle strengthening on two other days a week.
Shawn Arent, who is an exercise researcher from Rutger University, encourages people to be active at other points in the day as well as regular intensive exercise sessions in order to counteract the negative effects of sitting. Even standing from your desk for five minutes every hour and stretching will increase blood flow and produce benefits.
So cycle, walk, run, play, do yoga, join a sports club – whatever you do, find something you love and do it often. And put it in your calendar so you never miss a session.
4. Eat for your health
Don’t forget about what you put into your body. Give it the fuel it needs to ward off illness, stay strong and feed your brain the nutrients it needs for clear thinking.
Your brain needs macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein and fat) to function as well as micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytonutrients according to biologist and health researcher Deane Alban. A healthy, balanced diet will provide the brain with the nutrients it needs.
The Australian Government website has some good healthy eating advice www.eatforhealth.gov.au. Shop for fruit, vegetables and whole foods, avoid processed foods and eat a regular, balanced diet. Your body (and your mind) will love you for it.
Hot study tip: Never skip meals and eat a proper meal before exams.
5. Procrastinate less
You know that list of goals you wrote? Keep them somewhere prominent and read them often. It will motivate you.
And when you are feeling restless and finding it difficult to focus on what you need to do, that’s a good time to pull out the productivity apps, get organised and get some structure and discipline into your study and successful life regime.
Kevin Kruse is an author and productivity expert (you can listen to his podcasts). He suggests procrastination is a battle between your present emotions (I’d rather watch Netflix or do something fun and easier than what I have to do) versus your future emotions (how you will feel if you are up at 3am in the morning trying to cram for an exam). So imagine how you will feel if you don’t do your assignment on time, and let that motivate you.
Acknowledge that sometimes, you simply need to relax or connect with loved ones. This isn’t procrastination, but an important part of maintaining a healthy balanced life. So keep it all in perspective and you will not only enjoy your time more, but make the most of each moment you have.
6. Take regular breaks
Time off from study is just as important as the time you dedicate to it. You still need time to nurture your relationships and for going on holidays. Connecting with loved ones and taking time to relax will ensure you don’t burn out. Recharge so you can return to study with more determination and vigour than before.
Have a happy new year from all of us at Open Universities Australia. We look forward to supporting your study success in 2017.