Work, a word that strikes fear into the very soul of many students (including myself). However, no matter how much we want to deny it (and believe me, I’ve tried), Work is a big part of University. On a course such as mine, that work comes in the form of large coursework projects stretched out across the year, but it can take other forms as well. Essays, exams and more obscure things, which at first don’t look like work but when you set off to do them, you suddenly realise that it is in fact a lot harder than you originally anticipated and will take a lot of, you guessed it, work.
So when the Dragon that is work rises up out of the mist and all you have to battle it with is your trusty pen and a collection of high sugar content foods, how do you avoid insane levels of stress when trying to meet those terrifying deadlines?
Now, I’m no master sage or wise man (although feel free to tell people I am), but here are a few tips I’ve picked up over the years to keep the ol’ stress levels down:
- Don’t Panic! The downfall of many a project is caused by panicking, rushing to finish, cutting corners and then the whole thing falling in on itself. Stay calm and have a cup of tea.
- Take it one step at a time. Scary 10,000 word dissertation to hand in? Wouldn’t it be easier to split that into smaller 500 word chunks and do one or two a day? Why yes it would! You’ll finish it in plenty of time.
- Know the Deadline! Not sure when your deadline is? Find out! Know when it is? Plan to finish a few days earlier. Those days could be life-saving if something goes horrifically wrong.
- The Power of Planning. I probably should have put this first and am now noticing the extreme irony in that. Plan your time. Even if it’s a rough plan. “Today I’m going to complete a section”, “This week I want to have this done”. Visible achievements are good for staying positive.
- Take a break. Yeah I know, this is very counter-productive, but your brain can only take so much. Every hour or so give work a rest. Listen to a song. Go have a drink. Breathe some fresh air. Try to resist the urge to make your breaks longer than your working sessions though (a common problem with me!)
I’ve been told I’m a pretty laid back person (Shout out to my housemate Orla!) and I pride myself on that fact. One thing I know that can ruin the Uni experience is stress over a ‘heavy workload’. Sure you are here to work and get your degree, but it shouldn’t be a back-breaking, soul wrenching experience. You should enjoy yourself.