Some semesters are tougher than others, and the semesters where you take on extra shifts at work, join a few intense extra-curricular activities or add a few more subjects to your workload are often the hardest to get through.
I learnt this over the last couple of months, after making the decision to enrol in five law subjects. This I what I discovered during my (very) busy semester…
1. Remember to eat, drink and breathe
On the Tuesday of week one, I ate my ‘lunch’ in my parked car at 6pm. Munching on a salad that was well tossed after being toted around in my bag all day, I realised that I was risking food poisoning to avoid passing out on the way home. The moral of this story? Don’t neglect your basic needs!
2. Don’t lose your common sense
Determined have a colour-coded copy of the Child Support (Assessment) Act, I spent $12 on printing. Five minutes later, I realised that I could have printed in black and white for 74 cents, and then highlighted the relevant sections by hand. When faced with a hectic semester, it is important not to become so absorbed in your commitments that you forget your common sense… like I did.
3. Expect Murphy’s Law to Intervene
Either your laptop will die when you need it most and you will change operating systems entirely (resulting in the need to learn Mac language, whilst also studying for mid-sems), you’ll lose your driver’s licence (long story), or you’ll suffer from writers’ block during the day and not be able to sleep that night due to all the thoughts running through your head. You will also learn that the above scenarios are not mutually exclusive – after all, it is Murphy’s Law!
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it
Be sure to let your family and friends know that you will be a lot more anti-social and needy before you become a busy bee for the semester. They’ll appreciate the warning!
5. Try not to stress about being stressed
If there’s one way to work yourself into a panic, it’s stressing about the fact that you have a stressful time ahead. Yes, you will have a hellish couple of weeks come assignment time, but panicking will not get the work done. In order to avoid the stress, plan ahead, aim to finish early, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Oh, and read the marking criteria. It really helps.
6. Manage your Procrastination Habits
I’m not saying it will be easy, but try to strike a balance between work and play. Everyone needs to take a break, but limiting your procrastination will really help to reduce your stress.
7. Don’t avoid the tasks you hate
Every single week the same words went through my head: “I wish I had started this sooner.” It is easy to ignore the tasks that are difficult or boring and focus on the smaller, more interesting things on your to do list, but giving into subject favouritism comes back to get you in the end.
8. Be organised
You’ll end up wishing you had Hermione Granger’s time turner if you don’t effectively manage your time. Put together a realistic study timetable and prioritise your work – you’ll be glad you did.
9. Expect to become a morning person
…and an afternoon person, and a night person. In fact, you’ll become an all-round the clock person! If you haven’t already, you’ll learn the value of sleep or caffeine.
On that note, you’ll also become a Monday and Sunday person… Unlike most uni students, your timetable will not be as flexible, so you’ll need to keep your eye on the bigger picture to stay motivated during your busy semester.
10. Focus on the things that matter
When the stress of the semester really starts to pile on, you’ll notice that your sense of style and perfectly manicured fingernails will fall by the wayside. Be prepared for circles under your eyes and a dishevelled appearance. You’ll resemble Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix le Strange, or Russell Brand… as himself.
Don’t worry about it too much; the semester will be over and you’ll be back to your glamorous normal self soon enough!
Enjoyed this post? Sign up for the Survive Law weekly newsletter for more.