Keeping your focus throughout the year

Second term can feel like a repeat of the first, only without the excitement of freshers and the start of a new year – here are some handy tips designed to keep your focus all year round… By Rachael Davies

It’s hard to keep focused during this halfway period between the renewed dedication of a fresh year and the impending panic of exam season. You know that now you’re supposed to be putting your head down and cracking on with deadlines and coursework – so why is it so difficult?

Unless you took a gap year before university, you will have been working hard for the last four or five years, starting at school to get into uni, and then once you’re here to get your grades. Hardly surprising then that your brain wants a break when pressing deadlines seem to have laid off slightly. But never fear – here are a few tips to help you stay focused throughout the year, even if your motivation is rebelling against you.

Plan your time

The Christmas break is undoubtedly the best time of year, but the result of weeks of roasts and obscene amounts of chocolate is a lazy streak that proves tough to shake year after year. Coming back to contact hours and independent study, especially for those doing dissertations, can mean that you lose some time management or motivation skills. To combat this, physically planning out your time on a timetable can help keep you focused, especially with lists of what to accomplish between certain times or on certain days. It probably won’t need to last long – a few weeks of babying your brain back into the routine, and it’ll become natural again.

Have goals for the year

As I said before, every year up until this point has been focused on short-term goals: getting into uni, achieving a 2:1, winning the spot on the exec team. Make a point of reminding yourself what you want to get out of uni, whether that’s top grades, shining extra-curricular achievements, competing in sport teams, the dream grad job, or a combination of them all, and make concrete plans of how to get there. With a clear idea of where you see yourself, it’s a lot easier to motivate yourself to knuckle down and dive back into uni life.

Value your time

It’s also important to enjoy your time at uni – everyone says it, but it really will fly by. Even when it feels like one huge ball of stress, it’s good to value all the different sides of university life, not just the ones that seem the most important. Look ahead a few years – what do you want to remember from your final year? What regrets do you want to avoid? Make sure you act on those goals now.

Get by with a little help from your friends

Sitting alone in your room or in the library can be a great way to avoid distractions – but sometimes the best tool to motivate yourself is to surround yourself with motivated people. After a morning of re-reading the same page for an eternity, a breath of fresh air in the form of an energetic friend, especially one doing a similar module or course to you, can bring the revitalising edge that everyone needs after a seemingly endless study session.

Create the ideal environment

Whether you’re a homebody or a library addict, keeping a tidy and comfortable environment around you is massively helpful for keeping your mind on the task at hand. You can’t write a good essay if all you can think about is the flickering light in the corner of your eye, or the uncomfortable spring in the seat of your chair. If you want to go the whole hog (let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a solid working aesthetic?), even pinning up motivational prints or quotes in front of you will give you little nudges in the right direction if you start to flag. The beauty of the Warwick bubble is that you’re surrounded by other students in the same situation, so use that to your advantage in creating a little home from home wherever you study, without fear of judgement.

Above all though, remember not to burn yourself out. Although it may seem like incoming deadlines and grades are the be all and end all, there are so many other things to enjoy whilst at university. Use these tips to stay in the moment and get your work done with enough time to get what you want from your time at Warwick.

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