Student Advocate tips for… staying motivated

 

Two students running with trees in the background

Our Bristol Futures Student Advocates come from every faculty in the university, and are here to support you to grow your skills and become an even better student.

In this post, Martina and Anaya share their top tips for staying motivated…

Speak positively 

Martina, 2nd year Biochemistry with Medical Biochemistry

My top tips are:
– Doing my best to find the topics I’m studying interesting (even if they aren’t my favourite or I don’t really like them)
– Keeping a positive mindset but most importantly speaking positively (avoid saying something is boring, a drag etc…) this makes it less hard to complete tasks (words have a huge impact on our mood/mind without us even realising!)
– Thinking of the bigger picture and working towards future plans!

Stay organised

Anaya, 2nd year Law student

My top tip is to create a study timetable and daily to-do lists. If you’re anything like me, being organised keeps you motivated and not overwhelmed.

– I usually create a weekly planner and colour code any commitments I have for the upcoming week (lectures, revision, free time etc.) It is essential to be realistic with your time and the amount of work you need to complete. Always allocate time for rest, so you do not become burned out.
– As exams are approaching, my planner outlines what topics I will be reviewing on particular days (and for how long), as well as when my courseworks are due and what days I plan to complete them. Again this is colour coded, which helps me better visualise what I need to do, and makes the process slightly more enjoyable.
– I also create daily to-do lists because I enjoy crossing off a task once completed. Therefore, I am motivated to work on the tasks during the day so that I can look at my completed list with pride at the end of the day.

Creating manageable tasks and taking reasonable breaks throughout the day will help you stay motivated and productive without it all being too overwhelming.

 

Bristol Futures Student Advocates run peer support sessions for students in their faculty. Check out the Study Skills Blackboard page to see what’s coming up.

 

 

Student Advocate tips for… time management

 

Statue of Gromit (from Wallace and Gromit) decorated with clocks

Our Bristol Futures Student Advocates come from every faculty in the university, and are here to support you to grow your skills and become an even better student.

We asked them to share their top tips for time management. Here’s what they said…

Pretend that you’re working a 9 to 5 Job

My top tip on how to manage time is to  always work from 9-5 on your studies (if you don’t already have a 9-5 job!). How this works is that from Monday to Friday, you should do your uni work, attend classes, make notes, or revise between 9am and 5pm. This is a great tactic as if you find that you’re only in uni in the morning, then you can come home and work till 5pm and still enjoy the rest of your day! On the contrast, if you’ve been in uni straight from 9am till 5pm, then odds are that it was a pretty long and tiresome day and so you can rest assured that you’ve worked your 9-5 already and deserve to rest for the remainder of your day and recharge! I used this studying tactic for 5 years in dental school and it’s meant that all of my evenings are free, I don’t have to cram to catch-up on revision and I can spend my weekends however I like 🥳. Sina, 5th year Dental student

I agree with Sina, I started trying to pretend it’s a 9 to 5 job recently and it’s really been helping me. I still often go over time because there’s just so much to do but I still try and it’s really helpful. At least to try and work a “normal” amount of hours and not cut back on sleep. Martina, 2nd year Medical Biochemistry 

Schedule everything

I schedule societies’ activities, the time I spend with friends, work out, etc I still have a lot of online lectures so what I find useful is listing down all the ones I need to do for the week and also writing down how long they will take me (it’s even more useful if your professors give you a rough indication of how long they think it’s going to take). I then schedule it on my calendar (I like using Google Calendar because it syncs across devices really quickly) and try to stick to the plan. For example, for the readings, if my professor suggested it should take 10 minutes I try to stick to that because it probably means I don’t need to be spending more time than that on it. This way I know I don’t need to be studying it in a lot of details but just read through it to get an overall idea.
When planning I like to leave some extra time, so I either schedule online lectures as longer than planned or actually schedule in a two/three-hour slot on a Friday afternoon that I’m leaving free, this way if I fall behind I know I have some extra time without having to work on weekends and if I don’t fall behind it just means I have more free time! Martina, 2nd year Medical Biochemistry 

Make sure you are aware of all your deadlines and what to do for each one. Then make a plan based on that. Try to finish your task a few days before the hard deadline just to give yourself some extra time for any unexpected situations. Manshika, 3rd year Economics and Finance 

Take advantage of all the moments in your day

There are many brief periods over the course of your day where you are waiting around e.g. on a commute, for an event to begin, for meeting up with a friend, etc.. By adding all these up, it can result in a substantial amount of time. You can turn all these periods where you are usually just waiting around into a useful source of time if you make your work mobile and accessible at all times. I personally always have some work available offline on my phone to read, or quiz myself on, so I make the most of my time. Emma, 4th year Veterinary Science

Bristol Futures Student Advocates run peer support sessions for students in their faculty. Check out the Study Skills Blackboard page to see what’s coming up.

 

 

Student perspective: How to make the most of your Reading Week

Photo of Tiegan, the author of this postby Tiegan Bingham-Roberts, Bristol Futures Advocate

If you are in the Faculty of Arts like me, it is likely that you have an upcoming Reading Week! For most Arts students this is Monday 1st – Friday 5th March, although some of you may have a different date range. I hope this blog will be useful ahead of Reading Week to inspire some activities you can do in order to stay productive and make the most of this time. So, here are my are my tips below:

 

(R)EADING: the clue is in the name, catch-up on reading!

If you didn’t quite manage to finish one or more of the texts you have studied so far in TB2, now is the time to set aside some time to finish them. Or, if you have an upcoming text that is quite long and will require a big chunk of time to read, you can use this week to get ahead and at least start reading that text. As a final year English student myself, there is usually always one ‘long’ text per Unit each term that is significantly longer than most of the others (remembering George Eliot’s Middlemarch from my second year here…) and Reading Week is a great time to tackle these head on.

(E)NHANCE: enhance your Study Skills by attending sessions and creating a study schedule

Now that you will be aware of roughly how much time it takes you to prepare for all your TB2 Unit seminars each week, how long it takes you to watch the pre-recorded lecture materials (be realistic – with pausing to take notes or skipping back to hear something you weren’t paying attention to for a few seconds – can make a 30 minute recording take 45 minutes!), and how long it takes you to do your readings for each week, you can set aside some time to create a study schedule. I personally find that writing into my diary/calendar a specific day and time to watch lectures, as if they were live sessions, to be really helpful. I also write into my diary/calendar when I am going to complete the preparation for all of my seminars, by paying attention to my usual working patterns and when I am at my most productive and energised to study. If you would like any advice on creating a study schedule that will set you up for success in the latter half of TB2, you can book into a 1-1 tutorial or drop-in session with the Study Skills team here.

 (A)NALYSE: analyse your feedback from TB1 assessments to spot common areas to improve on for TB2 assessments

You are likely to have received some if not all of your feedback from TB1 assessments by the start of your Reading Week, so it is a great time to look over that feedback again in an impartial way now that you have had time to digest the grade itself. This is a task that you often do not have time for when in the throws of writing a piece of academic writing or doing academic research – it feels like a waste of time to look back to past essays when you have so many future deadlines! However, Reading Week gives you the time to do this, and it can seriously improve your prospects of getting higher grades in TB2 because you can make specific changes and improvements. My other blog post, about using feedback effectively and building academic resilience, can be found here if you are interested to read more about this.

(D)ECIDE: get ahead on TB2 assessments by deciding on your interest areas

Check the ‘’assessment information’’ tab on the Blackboard pages for your TB2 units, to see whether your tutor has uploaded their essay questions document. They will probably have done this by Reading Week, because deciding on an essay avenue to explore in the latter half of the term is quite a common task for students to undertake during Reading Week. Even if you are not sure on the text, concept, event, framework, or author/scholar you want to write on, perhaps you haven’t studied the one that looks the most interesting to you yet, you will have a vague idea about what interests you and excites you when looking at the reading list. It’s also a good time to start thinking whether any of the tutors’ questions sound interesting to you or whether you want to devise your own question.

(I)NVITE: send some Zoom social invitations to your friends or coursemates

Now we move on to the personal side of Reading Week rather than all of the academic things. It is important to use this break productively, of course, but it is just as important to enjoy yourselves and do things that you don’t manage to find the time for whilst participating in normal teaching weeks. One of these things might be to catch-up with your friends or coursemates. At the moment in Bristol, with national lockdown restrictions, it is difficult to meet up in-person due to the rules apart from if you have a support bubble or are meeting one person for socially distanced exercise. Considering this, Zoom meetings (or similar platforms) may be the most practical way of catching up. You could organise a quiz (throwback to lockdown number one…), have a dinner date, have an afternoon tea meeting, have a cooking/baking session, host a watch party, and more!

(N)OTHING: set aside time to do nothing, to rest and relax!

All of the above activities are useful and involve actively doing something – but please so set aside time to do nothing. It can feel aimless to think of doing ‘nothing’, so you can make this more distinct by choosing a specific day of the Reading Week which you will spend doing whatever you like, whether it is sleeping in all day, watching Netflix, having a pamper session, going for a long walk to a place you want to explore, having a killer workout session, listening to loud music, doing some online shopping, etc.  Reading Weeks are designed to offer extra time for being productive as well as resting, relaxing, and rejuvenating. Letting yourself get burned out is never fun, so do something that will help to prevent this and allow you have consistent energy levels in the latter half of TB2.

(G)ET ORGANISED: clean and tidy your bedroom and organise your notes

Tidy space = tidy mind. During the chaos of the teaching weeks and the exhaustion of getting back into the swing of things since Winter Break, especially since TB2 started so soon after January assessments for many of us, you may not have spent much time on cleaning, tidying, and organising. Personally, I find having a clean house (albeit difficult to maintain in student accommodation!) makes me feel a lot more comfortable to work in productively. I also find that organising all of the random pieces of paper, receipts, letters, returns labels, that I have somehow accumulated over a month or so to help clear my mind. When you know that your room is tidy and contains nothing that doesn’t belong in there, it is usually a more attractive space to use. Reading Week is not only about replenishing your mind, you can also replenish the physical area around you.

Finally, thank you for reading, and have a great week! Do you have any other suggestions for How to Make the Most of your Reading Week? Feel free to share them in the comments section.