Winter semesters are hard. It is getting cold and dark. Everyone has various strains of cold and when you fend one off, another one hits. I am in Sheffield, which seems to be perpetually underwater. My motivation is flagging. I am questioning why I chose a law degree in the first place – and it is okay if you are too. The November slump is real for all students, but in law the looming application deadlines seem to make it all the trickier to combat.
Some modules or degrees have reading weeks, which can be a welcome breather. However, you should try to go home for the reading week and come back refreshed and ready to work, not more de-motivated than when you left. Use it to catch up on the niggling bits of work that you have been putting off and to clarify your understanding of confusing topics. Do not feel guilty for having a break either, especially if you are just starting out; it can be daunting learning all these new concepts.
If (like me) you do not get a reading week and you are ready to throw those brand-new textbooks out the window, here are a few tips to collect yourself and get back on track for the weeks ahead.
Creating to-do lists or using a diary or planner are good ways to visualise what you need to do and what you have coming up. You may be able to remember it all in your head but eventually, something will creep up without you realising. Take 20 minutes to plan out your schedule until the end of the term. It is not far off!
Take time off
Spending multiple hours pouring over books can be unproductive to a point. If you are taking no time off, schedule an evening to do things for yourself. Tidy your room, have a bath, do some mindfulness, have a good gym session or go out with friends. All the things that we are told to do as students but sometimes think “I don’t have time for that” can actually be quite fulfilling.
Miss that night out
As much as rest, recreation and social times are important, if you are going out weekly and feel that you are getting behind, take a week off partying. Spending a good afternoon or evening in the library or working without distraction can bring you up to speed with your work. Plus, you will be in good shape the next day if you have more to catch up on.
Use your travel time
If you can record yourself talking about – or find podcasts on – your modules, listen to these in the car, on the bus or walking to university. It is a good way to learn while using those periods.
Study with friends
If your friends have a better understanding of a certain area, use their notes or talk to them about it. You can also do the same for them in areas that you are more read up on.
Talk to your lecturers
Or your personal tutor. They are gold mines of advice and knowledge. Use them.
Talk to mentors or advice services
If your university runs mentoring, advisory or counselling services and things are getting tough for you, do not be afraid to go and talk through your stress with them. They may help you to rationalise problems and prioritise work.