After hearing third-year horror stories of stress and the never-ending workload, I thought I’d had a lucky escape – but it just seems that I had a relatively easy start to the year. The deadlines are now fast approaching, my reading is piling up, I have a full-time Press Office placement starting tomorrow. Oh dear. When the lecturers tell you that you should do the majority of your dissertation research in the summer holidays, you should probably listen to them.
But it’s okay. Whilst I have a lot on, I’ve had to learn how to balance and prioritise commitments more than I’ve ever done before, and I’m just about coping. My academic diary is my best friend, and I write everything I’m going to do in it; I write down lectures and seminar hours, when I’m going to be volunteering, deadlines, the time-slot my food shop is being delivered in, everything. This way, I can’t ignore anything and I have a visual reminder where I can see each week in advance.
Similarly to this, I downloaded a Countdown app on my phone, which is probably supposed to be used for exciting things like birthdays and holidays, but I also use it for academic deadlines. It helpfully pops up with a notification at intervals before the said deadline: ‘1 month until ‘assignment due’, ‘2 weeks until ‘essay deadline’, etc. As annoying as this is, I know I will always be checking my phone, so I won’t forget.
As well as reminders and being organised, I’ve made the mistake of letting my social life slip a little bit and it’s had a really dampening effect on my day-to-day mood. Within the last week, I’ve made much more of an effort to make dinner with my housemates and spare an hour or so to watch First Dates or something that requires minimal brain power on television to have something to look forward to. Similarly, I’ve found it really motivational to meet up with my friends for a coffee and grab some noodles from Delicious in my breaks on campus. Staying on campus means I don’t waste time by going home and getting distracted, and little incentives really do increase my productivity.
So I have an essay deadline tomorrow, a full time Press Office placement starting tomorrow lasting two weeks, weekly seminar reading for two modules, a long essay due on December 11th, a group podcast due on December 11th, and all sorts of dissertation-related things to get through. It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks, but I can do it, and once I do, I will feel like Superwoman (and treat myself to cake).