For some it’s that long awaited ticket to freedom, but for others it spells stress, upheaval and feeling overwhelmed.
To help students get the most out of their uni journey, Life Coach Directory member and author Juliet Landau-Pope has penned 20 things to help you set off on the right foot
Whether you’re setting off to college or embarking on a new course while living at home, this is an exciting time of the year for students.
You’ve worked hard for this opportunity, looked forward to it for months and now you’re on your way. But it’s also a period of upheaval and adjustment that can lead to feeling overwhelmed.
But simple habits can be learned and small steps can make a huge difference. Here are her top organising tips for students:
Manage your time. Write or print out your study schedule and display it clearly in your room. Mark times and locations of important events such as lectures, seminars, tutorials or lab sessions.
And most importantly, find out the deadlines for essays, projects, reports and exams so you can plan and prepare for these in advance.
Use coloured highlighters or fonts to help you see at a glance when different activities take place.
Keep in regular touch with tutors, academic advisors and other students on your course. Check online discussion groups for news, views and resources relating to your studies but don’t rely on unofficial sources such as Facebook groups for information.
If in doubt, consult your tutor or search the uni website.
Even if your study resources are online, it may be impossible to escape a deluge of forms and flyers, notices and newsletters. You may also have handouts and notes relating to coursework. Declutter papers that you no longer need, especially envelopes. Set up simple, practical systems for storing papers so that you can find whatever you need.
Clear plastic A4 envelopes in different colours can be used to separate different categories of papers. Use vertical file holders rather than amassing papers on horizontal trays and beware the dreaded stackable in-tray because that’s where things often disappear.
Set goals every term but break these down into specific projects or tasks that you can accomplish on a weekly basis. Keep track of your progress by listing your micro-goals and deadlines on a large whiteboard or poster in your room.
Master the art of compiling lists. If you’re a technophile, there are various apps to try. If you prefer to write lists by hand invest in a good quality notebook and keep your lists together there rather than on countless scraps of paper.
Take a few moments every day or at least every week to review your list and define priorities.
Plan ahead and pace yourself. Don’t buy the excuse that you work well under pressure; chances are it’s a story that you tell to justify leaving things till the last minute.
Limit distractions by learning the positive power of the word ‘no’. That means setting boundaries with other people – maybe turning down invitations to socialise when you need to study – as well as disciplining yourself to concentrate on vital tasks.
If you can’t resist checking your phone, charge it in another room or remove social media apps. If more drastic action is required, give it to a trusted friend for safekeeping until your essay is finished, for example.
If/when you find it hard to start studying, don’t question why you are procrastinating. Simply define the very first step that you need to take and focus on what you need to do to make it happen.
Perfectionism and procrastination often go hand in hand; if you’re afraid to hand in an assessment that’s worth less than full marks, you’re likely to put yourself under immense pressure.
But why aim for perfect when excellent will do? Set yourself high standards, by all means, but good enough can be good enough.
Your room doesn’t need to be immaculate but you’ll need a space that feels comfortable to study. Clutter is a subjective concept – not everyone thrives in a minimalist environment – but if there’s too much stuff around you, it can be distracting.
Don’t waste time looking for lost items such as books, papers, chargers or sports equipment, especially those that might accumulate in a ‘floordrobe’. Designate specific places to put things away in your room and try to allocate time each day or at least once a week to tidy up.
To maintain physical fitness, build some form of exercise into your routine. Your university may have a gym that you can join but this is also a great to try out new sports or activities in student clubs.
From archery to Zumba, there’s bound to be something you haven’t yet tried so stretch yourself, literally and metaphorically.
Boost your health and wellbeing by eating a balanced diet rather than relying on junk food or expensive takeaways. If you opt for self-catering, this is an ideal opportunity to learn to cook for yourself – or better still to cook with friends or flatmates.
Your mum’s been telling you this for years; now neuroscientists confirm that sleep is essential for memory and concentration. In fact, you could say that sleep is one of the most time management tools available because it helps you to be more productive.
Neither caffeinated drinks nor neuroenhancing drugs are any substitute for a good night’s sleep. A quick ‘power nap’ during the day can help to restore energy and focus.
Don’t assume that everyone else knows what to do, where to go and how to do it. Many other students will be feeling just like you, even if they’re working hard to give a confident and laid-back impression.
If you’re struggling with any aspect of your academic work, get in touch with your tutor or academic adviser as soon as possible. Don’t wait till you’re in the midst of an ‘essay crisis’ to ask for guidance.
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, find out early on what support is available from university counselling services. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s a sign of strength, courage and resourcefulness.
For more information on how to cope with mental health issues while studying, see:
Engage in conversations with others and with yourself. Be prepared to encounter and explore different perspectives. Self-reflection is also key. Monitor your learning and process your reactions by writing a journal.
University is a wonderful time to not only acquire subject knowledge and develop skills but also to develop greater self-awareness and emotional intelligence.
And finally, be yourself and define success in your own terms.
Being More Productive is available for £7.99.