In addition to my role as OU Students Association President, I am also studying for a Masters in Education, so I am not immune to knowing that studying in the winter can be really challenging. It’s dark outside and the days really don’t feel as long as they should do. So as someone who sometimes struggles with motivation to study, I have a few tips for you that will hopefully help keep you on track.
I call it my 5 ways to studying wellbeing!
1 Break it down
If it looks too much break it down. One way that I study is to use a study timer app that sets me 25 mins study followed by a 5 min break, repeated 4 times finishing with a 20 mins break. By the end of this, almost 2 ½ hours of focussed study have passed and I can give myself a reward. If I am finding a section more of a challenge I may reward myself after studying a chapter, or even a page! I tend to find a piece of chocolate a particularly motivating reward.
2 Don’t study every day
If I study at the same time every day, I make sure that every third day I take some time to do something else, even if it is just for an hour. It helps me refocus, rest my brain and come back to my studies fresh. I find taking even a short break helps me to retain more information. So whatever your study pattern, make sure you take some time off, relax and return with a new mindset.
3 Communicate with your tutor
Make sure you communicate with your tutor; they are a great support. If you are having any problems at all, make sure you tell them as soon as you can. If you are going to need an extension don’t leave it to the last minute, remember that your tutor probably has family and other things going on as well. If you have got behind, they will be able to help you and maybe advise you how to study smarter, instead of harder. If, like me, you get really anxious around TMA time and it makes your mental health worse, make sure that you speak to your tutor. They will be able to help you with your studies and point you in the right direction of any extra help you may need, including the Student Support Team or the Help Centre sections.
4 Have a look at support options
Visit oustudents.com and see whether there is a meet-up or event that you could go to so that you can chat with other students. They may not necessarily be on your module but it has been said that a problem shared is a problem halved. Other students have been where you are and will probably have lots of hints and tips that they can share. It is also good to be around other students so you feel less alone and feel less like you are the only one who is finding studying a challenge. At the moment, all our meet-ups are online but they are still a great way to connect with fellow students. We also have links to lots of other support such as Togetherall and Nightline. Furthermore, we have various groups such as the Disabled Students Group, Black Asian and Minority Ethnic group and our LGBTQ+ group OU Pride (formerly PLEXUS). I recommend you have a look around and explore the groups on offer.
5 Be kind to yourself
Most importantly of all be kind to yourself!! You are doing an amazing job; balancing work, life and study is hard but incredibly rewarding! If you need an extra boost, have a look at the degree ceremonies. It’s so encouraging seeing people, who have been where you are, walking across the stage to receive their degree certificate– then imagine you receiving you certificate!! My degree certificate takes pride of place on my desk and encourages me to focus on my current study!
I hope this has helped. Just remember to make sure you break it up, take some time out to refocus, talk to your tutor, look at oustudents.com and be kind to yourself – you’re amazing!!