What spending all-day in the library for a week taught me.
Well, hello there! Welcome (back) to term 3! This year has been a bit of a rollercoaster, sure, but you’ve made it through! For that alone, you deserve to take a weekend sojourn, spend time away from it all.
Oh, oh, oh. Wait. We have assignments due. For the rest of the month.
Never mind. I said what I said. You do deserve a break, but I understand that you can’t really do that right now. You really need some way to focus on your work and get it all done as soon as possible.
How do you do that? Yes, I hear you; most of you would say “SPEND ALL DAY AT THE LIBRARY!!!!”
And you know what? I hear you. I’ve been doing that; essentially for the past month (on and off), and relentlessly the past couple of weeks.
I’ve picked up on a few interesting things, a few trends in my working pattern, what I actually end up doing through the course of the day, and so on.
So, as I worked to prep for my exams (in less than three weeks from now) and on four essays (two of which I submitted today), let me share with you my mistakes, so that you don’t have to make them.
Now, I know that not everyone has a studying pattern like mine, so let me give you some context. I have not been able to properly work in my room for a while now. Complete demotivation takes over when I sit on my desk and stare at my laptop screen.
When I do get to work, I have hour-long intervals where I’m pretty focused on what I’m doing. Actually, more like half-hour, with a minute to check texts (if any) in the middle, and then shifting focus back onto what I was working on.
So, now that you have a bit of context, I can tell you what my day looks like. I got to the library (usually) before 9 and, depending on my mood (and availability), I sit on the second or third floor. I’m fine with a bit of ambient noise on my floor, that’s why I don’t opt for the highest floors. If you do want pin-drop silence, feel free to check those floors out.
I keep sipping on my coffee, finish my breakfast, simultaneously work until 12:30-1 p.m.-ish, then I go on a walk with my flat-mates (who are often in the library; more often than me, actually) and get myself a coffee (gotta love that Pret subscription). After this break, it’s back to the grind, working till 3:30-4 (mostly having my lunch in the meantime), which is when my brain (usually) goes like “NO. MOre. wOrK.” Usually, I end up clocking out by 5:30-6 p.m. For me, that’s a day well-spent.
Now, what have I learnt from this? Let me tell you. (Side note: if you have any tips, let me know in the comments below!!)
- Take breaks: If you feel like you need some change of scene, and that you don’t just want to see the rows of desks that surround you, take a break and walk out. Most of the times, I just end up checking out the bookshelves that are on my floor; you never know what interesting volumes you may find.
- Eat/drink well: VERY IMPORTANT. The last thing you want to do is be hungry and be focused on that, rather than thinking about what you’re meant to be working on. My recommendation would be to pack something for breakfast and lunch; how I do it is making it the night before. It may not be much variety in the food that you have, but it is an efficient system.
- Be aware of your working patterns: Not everyone works in the same ways. You may be someone who works better in really long study sessions, or many short ones. Your peers may not necessarily have similar patterns, so please be aware of that, and choose how you study depending on how you do it best. (Personal anecdote: I used to hate studying in the library in first year, preferring to study in my room and the PPE common room. However, now, I find it better to study in a quieter area (like the library), because it is a place that I can assign as a workspace, and the quietness helps me collect my thoughts, especially when I’m writing essays (or this article, for example))
- Get out: Seems counterintuitive, but it actually isn’t. You need the time to get out of the library. Wearing a mask all the time leaves you very dehydrated. Take the time to go out for a walk and take in some fresh air.
- Strive to be productive, not “productive”: Being productive looks different for everyone. Taking the day to chill out is also productive, especially when it helps you get the rest that you need to think about that argument for the essay that has been eluding you for so long. Even half an hour of work is productive. Don’t look at someone else’s standards of “productivity” to decide what is productive for you. As I said, everyone works differently.
Well, that’s all I have for now. Hopefully this helps you out in planning how to work, and whether you want to come into the library regularly or not (when you are able to and are permitted to). Stay safe, take care of yourselves and your loved ones (in all aspects).
Image credits: @warwicklibrary on Twitter