I'm a 3rd year university student. So far being a student has been a giant slog, and it isn’t getting easier. I seem to have made a hobby of setting myself up for success! I love calendars, day planners, journals, flash cards, essay plans, study groups, all of it. It gives me a huge rush to set up a new organizational plan, but then when it comes to actually using the plans, I feel like all the wind has been taken out of my sails, and I don't want to use them! This results in me getting stuck in a cycle of coasting and cramming, and frankly it is miserable. Any tips?
Star Study Starter
So I'm gonna let you in on a secret - I actually haven't ever "finished" a "university program" per se... but now that I think of it neither have you! But I think you deserve some tips from expert studiers in my life, so I'm gonna go bug my really smart roommate and then re-write their tips in my own cute and fun voice, as if I'm a University Smartie and not just a Scholar of the STREETS and certified School Dummy! BRB!
Aaaand I'm back! Firstly, I've been informed that you don't need to "go to school" to get into habits like this - my roommate gently reminded me of the house cleaning schedule, weekly co-grocery trip and cat litter box cleaning schedule that I very dutifully made and have since... let slide. When I think of it like that, it's really easy to see the cycle you can fall into. I can get congratulatory and use all of the productive energy that got me making cool systems into making grand stories for why I'm so amazing and smart and actually don't need all of the rules I set up. I think this is because the part of my brain that makes up the systems is a creative part - it's a lot of fun for me to make up a calendar, because it means I can imagine my fun and great future where I'm living in a world that benefits from the organization I did. It's not really about me getting organized as much as it is about me fantasizing about being an organized person. Doing actual work doesn't play into the fantasy so much, and so it can be hard for me to commit. I find that I do my best following through when I take my habit making out of that creative space, and move it into a social space.
Connecting your work, plans and goals to your social life can be a really great motivator. First you have to know how much social interaction you like or need. If you're a huge extrovert like me, it can be really helpful to make study dates with people, and make a part of those dates sharing the work you've done and holding each other accountable. If you're more introverted, maybe finding friends to chat online with, or working with a close friend or partner can help. I find that if you can find someone (or someones) to do boring things with, the things are less daunting and terrible. It really helps me to make dates with friends and fold laundry, cook food or clean while they're there. I also sit with my roommate while she studies sometimes, so I know it can be helpful there too!
There are lots of other amazing habit-making and studying theories out there, but I know that I find myself wasting time by trying to find the perfect one. Sometimes you just have to accept yourself as a creative planning genius, and then kinda force yourself to do the boring things. But if you reach out to friends and let them know that their presence is helping you, I'm sure you'll find some lovely boring-busting allies.
Bethany (And her Extra-Smart Roomate)