Defeating the Deadlines
Facing exams and deadlines is an inevitable part of being a student, but in Term 2 it can get particularly tough to keep on top of things. I’ve had lots of deadlines this month so I’ve needed to find ways to get through my work without burning out. I wanted to write this post for anyone who’s been struggling with deadlines lately to remind you that you will get through it! Here are a few ways to be kind to yourself during a challenging time…
Plan ahead (but not too much!)
Knowing I’d have a lot of deadlines to prepare for, at the start of Term 1 I made a big plan of all the things I’d do over the following months in order to get everything finished on time. This actually turned out to be counter-productive – laying out such a huge amount of future work was really overwhelming! This experience reminded me that whilst organisation and time management are key, it’s important to break down your workload and not to look too far ahead – it’s far better to tackle things gradually.
It can be difficult to take breaks when you feel like time is against you, but having time away from your work is essential. Giving your brain a rest and a chance to process information will probably improve the quality of your work and your ability to revise. Instead of feeling guilty for taking time out, think of it as a crucial part of being productive.
Eat regular meals
Eating regular meals is something I struggle with when I get busy or stressed, and I have a tendency to skip meals. Not eating properly can make you feel sluggish and unmotivated so it’s really important to give your brain the energy it needs to study. During a particularly busy week, I find that stocking up on ready meals and frozen food – although not the most nutritious option! – can really help me to eat regular meals even when I feel like I don’t have time or am too tired to cook.
Listen to your body
As well as taking breaks, listening to your body in terms of how much rest you need is essential to keeping on top of things whilst protecting your wellbeing. Getting enough sleep is an important part of managing your stress levels and getting yourself in the right mindset for studying efficiently so if you’re running low on sleep and feel yourself crashing, don’t feel guilty for taking a nap. There’s also a lot of illness going around at this time of year so don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re feeling under the weather and have to take more time to rest than you planned.
Draw a line
Particularly when working on essays, it can be tempting to keep reading, editing and checking your work forever, always finding flaws and things to change. This can be really time consuming and stress-inducing so sometimes you have to say enough is enough and move onto the next task. This doesn’t mean submitting work that is unfinished or unedited, but accepting that your work doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough is the key to escaping an agonising cycle of endlessly ‘perfecting’ your work. Sometimes you just have to draw a line, know you worked hard and hope for the best!
It’s likely that most people around you will also be battling deadlines and exams, and communicating how you’re feeling can help reassure you that you’re on the right track. If you’re struggling, it’s a good idea to talk to your personal tutor/staff in your department and to reach out to wellbeing support services. There’s always someone willing to listen when things feel impossible.
As always, keep in mind that your health and wellbeing are ultimately more important than work, and that stressful periods of exams and deadlines always pass eventually. You have made it through many challenging times in the past and you will again – you are more capable than you think!