My Study Life

Back in my undergraduate days we used to keep our timetables in our student diary – pencil and paper. Yep it had to be pencil because you dropped classes, changed tutorial groups, or labs were on only 6 weeks of the semester which meant you had multiple copies of your timetable and if you left that vital diary on your kitchen bench at home you were relying on your classmates to tell you where you should be on the day. These days it’s all online and you can access it easily on your phone, smart device or computers on campus.

Everyone uses different apps and programs to keep track of their classes, a separate one for making task lists, and other, maybe a diary for keeping your exam schedule. My Study Life, available online or as an app for iPhone and android, can manage your schedule, assessment tasks, study plan and exam schedule all in one. You can use it to set reminders to be sent to you for different items and also set up rotating schedules if your timetable changes weekly, fortnightly, monthly etc. It is relatively easy to use and you can sign in using your office 365 profile, google or Facebook account details.

So if you are looking for a way to stay organised and paper and pencil are not really working for you, give this app a go and see if it works for you.

What’s good about it?: It is a diary, task list and exam scheduler with reminders all in one.

What’s not so good about it?: It would be great if there was an additional function of organising a study schedule that works around your classes but in a separate screen.


Don’t panic just yet

I want you all to take a deep breath, let it fill your abdomen and hold it for 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and exhale. Now repeat this another two times. That’s right the end of semester is approaching which can only mean one thing, assessment due dates are looming and exam preparation is upon us. If you are one of the few students who this doesn’t worry, who feels like they have it all under control then stop reading this and head over to my office so you can share your secrets with me and I can pass them along to the rest of the students. For the rest of you, you’re not alone. In fact you’re in the majority.

Exam stress or anxiety is a real thing, it’s normal to feel stressed or anxious about something which is difficult or important to you. In some cases it can be a good thing. The stress you feel allows for the release of Adrenalin which can act as a motivator to help you prepare for the exams and get through the end of semester.  If this is you, you probably already take pause when you feel the stress and reflect on all your options and make a decision about what to do.

For some people the feelings stick around and build leading to distress , fatigue, lack of concentration and a feeling of hopelessness, all of which are in direct opposition to preparing for the exam period. If this is you then there are a few tips below you might want to check out:

  1. Try and get some exercise during the preparation and right before an exam. Research has shown that exercise stimulates the areas of the brain that we need for learning and recall.
  2. Make sure you don’t focus entirely on study, still try to stay connected with friends and family, take regular breaks to engage in social and/or relaxing activities.
  3. Set up a good study routine by setting goals and rewarding yourself for the small and large accomplishments.
  4. Make sure you eat regularly and from all the food groups. Try and avoid foods high in fat and sugar, they may seem like the quick and easy options but they won’t give you the long lasting energy to keep feeding the brain.
  5. Get some sleep!
  6. Limit the distractions around you that will lead to procrastination.
  7. If you’re frustrated, struggling or feeling lost and hopeless then find someone to talk to about it, like a friend, family member or a counsellor and let it out.
  8. Make a list of positive thoughts of success and accomplishment to help encourage you on the journey and limit the negative thoughts.

It’s not always possible to stay focused on the positives no matter how hard you try. Niggling thoughts of failure and doom can stick around. If this is you then you may want to check out my previous post on what to do next.

 


Group Work Dynamite

Are you in the middle of a group work assignment at the moment? Is it going well? Has someone taken leadership? Is the group sharing and working collaboratively? Are jobs being divided equally and everyone completing the tasks in the specified time frame? If this is the case then congratulations, you’re not only experiencing the benefits of a shared workload and accessing multiple points of view, you are also learning valuable rules that you can implement in the future when the next group doesn’t get off to such a great start.

If you’re not so lucky to you might be struggling with the group you are working within. Maybe you are experiencing some of the following:

  • A lack of leadership so one member is dominating the group resulting in infighting and a lack of direction
  • The focus is on the wrong areas, for example picking a slide template to present on rather than the content of the slides.
  • Instead of challenging and sharing different viewpoints people are agreeing with poor decisions to avoid confrontation
  • Someone in the group is blocking every idea
  • Someone is getting a free ride and not pulling their weight
  • You’re holding back and keeping quiet to avoid a negative judgement and evaluation by a team member

Often these dynamics and situations might need more than a few tips to resolve but these tips may help ease the tension a little or get off to a better start next time:

  • Set an agenda for each meeting
  • Someone should take notes
  • Assign tasks and set deadlines
  • Make suggestions and offer your opinions. Don’t just say I disagree and not offer an alternative.
  • Deal with the problems as they arise don’t let them slip by and bring them up later or not mention them at all.
  • Swap your contact details
  • Use multiple communication methods and keep everyone up to date with progress
  • Don’t dominate the conversations or talk over people

Like I said these are not the only answers but they can get you started. I could have kept writing for pages and there are whole books devoted to this topic. If you want some more information you can check out communicating in a group environment and  Getting Your Group off to a Good Start from the University of Queensland or our tipsheet on being assertive.

 


The material or views expressed on this Blog are those of the author and do not represent those of the University.  Please report any offensive or improper use of this Blog to RPS@newcastle.edu.au.
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