The new semester has begun which means a return to university life for both existing students and freshmen. The time has come to start attending lectures, taking notes and visiting the library. Soon, the next phase of exams will be just around the corner.
Sooner than expected, you are going to be stressing out about studying again. “Where did I put the index cards?“, “which PowerPoint presentation was important for the next exam?” and this recurring question: “why am I doing all of this anyway?” In the end you will be finding yourself stuck under a huge pile of notes asking yourself how you got there and how this is supposed to work out.
However, this article will help you avoid those last-minute panics. Ditch the idea of memorising an entire index card one night before the exam or staying up until midnight trying to create an essay plan! Below are a few simple tips and tricks to help get you through studying whilst staying motivated and organised.
How do I stay organised?
Organisation is the first keyword. For those who are disorganised, staying motivated for their exams can be challenging. You don’t have to start with a “bullet journal” or meticulously plan your daily routine, but some small changes to your working style can really help:
Get into a routine
It is often underestimated, but planning your week helps immensely. It’s best to write down the due dates for coursework to gain a better overview of your tasks for the week. You should set goals for yourself such as taking some time to look through your notes. If you repeat this week after week, you will quickly get into a routine.
As silly as to-do lists may sound, they are a saviour in everyday life. Universities are not the only establishment to set important dates and tasks. Part-time jobs, your friends and your shopping list also don’t want to be overlooked!
Write it down!
In most of your seminars and lectures you will receive material from your professors. If you turn up prepared for your classes, it is much easier to remain interested and to understand the content of the class. You will learn specific knowledge by reading through the study material and your notes from the class which will help you to make sense of a subject later on.
Work it over!
Don’t give up now! Going through notes and content is just as important. The most important key-points/theses and explanations should be written down again and again. When there is not much time left until your exam, you can simply look at your own notes meaning you don’t have to start all over again. 3 key points on an index card looks better than 30 PowerPoint slides!
If you’ve made it to university, you should have some preparation skills. However, it always helps to have a reminder to use them!
How do I stay motivated during my studies?
Some people find staying motivated easy whilst others struggle after the first week of studying. It helps most if you deal with why you are not motivated first. There is a big difference between “I am just very lazy” and “the course I am studying is not right for me“. If you work out why you are struggling to stay motivated, it will be easier to overcome this issue.
First ask yourself: why am I going to university?
Are you studying because you find the subject super exciting, or rather because you want to climb the career ladder and always knew that this one job was the right one for you? If you can answer ‘yes’ to either of these reasons, then you already have a huge reason to show up to your lectures.
When we look at our goals and visualise what we want to achieve, it makes it easier to start taking steps towards meeting them. Sometimes it helps if you write down your goals, hang a picture on your pinboard or make your career wish your screensaver on your smartphone. Think of your future-self, who will certainly thank you for putting in the work now.
The biggest changes start in your head. Think positive!
Instead of “I don’t enjoy studying“, tell yourself: “I’m happy about the opportunities that studying will give me“. Find out what interests you most about your class or seminar and focus on that. At school you had to learn what you were taught, now everything is open to you and you can choose exactly the classes and lectures that you like. You can shape and change your everyday life at university the way you want and the way that will help you achieve your aspirations. It’s up to you and if you keep reminding yourself of it, studying will be much easier!
Accept that there will be bad phases as well.
There will be bad days. Some lectures will be difficult for you and not every exam will go the way you want it to but that’s okay! On some days the studying goes well, on others you can read a sentence five times and it still won’t make any sense. That is all part of the process and therefore, completely normal. Don’t give up now!
You learn from mistakes. If the exam didn’t go well, check exactly where your mistakes were so you won’t repeat them next time. And even if it doesn’t work the first time, the second time or even the third time, it will work the fourth time. Don’t put yourself under too much pressure.
Take a breather and admit that you deserve to take a break when you need it. Meet up with friends, watch the next episode of your favourite TV show on Netflix or go for a run!
Sometimes it’s the little things that help you stay motivated and organised. Never forget that little setbacks don’t define you and that you can do anything! From time to time you just need a bit of extra encouragement to make studying easier!