Staying Organised in These Challenging Times
Remaining organised has been quite difficult this term. The evolving situation and changes have made us ‘reactive’, rather than proactive. Whether that be rules/regulations (from tiers to lockdown), to departmental changes/announcements on teaching and learning. The ‘blended’ teaching and learning has provided some challenges. We’ve had to adapt to the new format of watching asynchronous lectures, synchronous lectures, completing pre-seminar work, attending a mixture of seminars (format-wise) and online ‘Advice and Feedback’ hours.
These changes can mean that we easily lose faith in our ability to effectively plan. Indeed, I’ve had to recalibrate my mindset to go from planning in the longer-term to taking things one-day-at-a-time.
Also, it’s meant that some people have fallen behind with their work. Speaking to friends and course-mates, it’s clear that remaining organised has been difficult. It’s a relief to know that I wasn’t the only one experiencing this. From the last academic year, I have learnt a lesson in terms of not being too inflexible in planning. Take Term 1 as an example. I’ve had to consistently alter my study timetable based on external changes. For example, I’m sure most students can recall a case when their asynchronous lecture was uploaded a day before the synchronous (live) lecture or seminar. It meant I had to change my plans for that evening to watch this lecture and push everything else back. Sound familiar?
Here are some tips on remaining organised in these challenging times:
- Calendar application
Having a calendar app and using it, which is ideally synced to your smartphone and laptop/PC, is ideal in keeping on top of your tasks. You will have a crude one with your seminars/classes on it. Why not schedule in time to watch your asynchronous lectures? Also, schedule in when you plan to do preparation for classes, advice and feedback hours etc. I like to colour coordinate it based on modules and non-academic things, such as society events. Having the calendar app can be reliable in helping you remember certain things and identifying how to best allocate your time.
2. To do Lists
These lists can be quite helpful in ensuring you know exactly what needs to be done, especially ahead of deadlines. I like to use To-Do lists to set myself goals and deadlines that I need to meet. It can be a real morale boost when ticking off a task. The important thing is breaking down tasks to smaller, manageable ones. If you plan on writing an essay over Week 9, break it down to how you intend to split it over. For example, you could decide to write 1 section a day, so it’s worth making a note of this strategy on your To-Do list.
3. Prioritisation protocols
You will find that some parts of the term become quite busy with multiple responsibilities. You could have society responsibilities, assignments, lectures, seminars, job/internship applications and other personal commitments that could be overwhelming. Prioritise tasks. What’s the most important and time-critical? Is there something you will prioritise over other things? Identify how to strike the right balance.
4. Balancing work with social life to avoid burnout
This is important. From my personal perspective, university can be forcing you to face a trilemma ( I will write a blog on this soon). This trilemma is highlighting the difficulty, given the limited amount of time, to complete University work, social life and careers/job applications. This is usually the case in term 1, especially in the latter half where it’s peak application season, assignments due and many society events. It can be easy just to focus on 1 or 2 of these, and I have often found myself sacrificing social life. However, this can be detrimental, such as on mental health which can exacerbate stress even further. Try to maintain an element of this social life (whatever works best for you from attending society events to catching up with friends on Zoom) to avoid burnout and then becoming disorganised.