Managing your Time and Energy Levels as a Physically Disabled Student
University is very different to School or College you have to learn to manage your own time and create your own routine, especially during the pandemic when many contact hours are now online .The flexibility of a university timetable in comparison to school might help you manage your fatigue and pain levels as a disabled student.
- Investigate the extra time, equipment and reasonable adjustments you’re entitled to with disability services before exams and assignments start to make sure you have the best chance at success.
- Use or create online revision resources such as Quizlet to reduce hand cramp and be more time efficient when studying. The resources are also more accessible whenever you are.
- Use a digital to-do list or productivity app such as Wunderlist or Notion (free with a student email address) to keep track of your tasks in different areas of life. This can be a good coping mechanism if balancing different areas of your life
- Explore and understand when your energy levels are at the optimum for more time consuming tasks outside of contact hours so you do not crash, think about the time of day you feel most focused. The morning works best for me and I do smaller tasks in the afternoon, but this is different for everyone.
- Buy support cushions or wrist aids to avoid back and hand pain from hours of writing. Build your work around physio, care or treatment, it is dangerous to fully prioritise studying over your emotional and physical well-being.
- Sleep is vital to focusing. If this is difficult due to disability-related pain or discomfort, create a bedtime routine that at least helps you destress before bed, such as listening to music or reading a relaxing book.
Buy stationery or a laptop that is right for your hand grip, writing or typing style. You should be able to get at least partial laptop funding through Disabled Students Allowance if you are a home student. You can apply for this once you have submitted your student finance application, which should open in around March. DSA can give you speech to text software like Dragon may also help you conserve energy when writing essays. Sonocent Audio Notetaker is a good option to help you record and take notes as a disabled student. It gives you more more independence and freedom than hiring a notetaker. An ergonomic chair which may be able to get through Disabled students Allowance may help you to focus for longer periods and prevent pain spikes. The standard does not work for everybody and it is important to work with the DSA assessor to find what software or equipment could work for you.
I would also suggest using the free chrome extension Weava which allows you to highlight and annotate PDFs. If it is a read only PDF that is not compatible with Weave you can upload it and annotate on Kami. Both options are effective and efficient. These chrome extensions mean my notes on required reading feel more cohesive and organised because they are in digital folders, rand. You can also organise the PDFS into folders based on topic or module. The standard does not work for everybody and it is important to work with the DSA assessor to find what software or equipment could work for you.
I hope this blog post was useful for disabled students and gave you some good tools to consider when you move to university.