New Year Resolutions – A guide to how not to set up unrealistic goals

With the fresh start of the New Year, you might feel the need to transform your studying routine to maximize productivity. However, a long to-do list might often overwhelm you. This post will tell you how to deal with your studying resolutions efficiently…

It’s the same old story. The clock strikes midnight and you think of all the ways in which you are going to change in the New Year. You’ll start a new hobby, you’ll read more, you’ll join the local gym and… you’ll definitely do all your readings and assignments and not miss any lectures this term.

While it’s great to aim high whenever you want to bring some change into your life, the one thing you should do is to be realistic about your academic resolutions. Many course mates of mine are at the moment in the library working on their assignments which are due 5 months from now. However, the problem is not that they are working on their essays; the issue is how stressed they are about getting as much as possible done in a short period of time. Course mates, if you are reading this as well, hope my tips will help you with planning and time management.

Unfortunately, you can’t do one essay, write two chapters for your dissertation and do all your reading for the week at once. While having a schedule is a great way to remember whatever you have to do in a particular day, sometimes it can become quite toxic. When you open your agenda at the end of the day and see how much you haven’t got done, your anxiety kicks in. You start to doubt yourself and worry about your academic success. The following day comes and you are stuck in a constant cycle of trying to catch up with your super-tidy-and-efficient schedule. Trust me, I have been there. Setting up unrealistic goals had only made me feel powerless in the face of my degree. So here is what you can do to avoid getting too caught up in your assignments.

  1. Find balance. Try to see how much free time you have in a day outside lectures, seminars and labs. After that, remember that you need to reserve some time for you to take a break and just relax. Remember that it is also important to find time for your hobbies. Like that, you can work for the rest of the time you have left since you have made sure that your mind will not be put to work from the moment you wake up until you go to sleep.
  2. Accept the fact that some days will not be as productive as others. Even if you decided this morning that you are going to finish reading 20 articles, you might not feel like doing so later in the day. That’s alright. Try to find something else to do instead. You’ll finish those articles when you can.
  3. Don’t make too many excuses up. If your mind and body needed a two days break, that’s fine. But don’t get stuck up in binge-watching Netflix for the rest of the week. Listen to your body when it tells you to stop and take a break but don’t trick yourself into procrastinating.
  4. Don’t compare yourself to others. Maybe your flatmate Lucy has already finished the assignment due in three weeks. But that doesn’t mean you have to start stressing about it. Do it organically. Read one article or two today. Maybe think of an essay plan at the end of the week. You’ll do fine. Lucy will do fine as well. But your success and productiveness should not be influenced by how well others are doing.

With all these being said, hope this new year has treated you well so far. Remember to treat yourself even better!

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