A stress-free study plan

Whether you’re undertaking a long course or a short one, there’s no doubt that studying is a serious business that you’ll need to be dedicated to, in order to succeed. Having said that, you’ll also need to enjoy it, if you truly want to do well! 

Even during the most intensive or boring parts of your course, there are still a few things you can do to ensure you will enjoy yourself. Here are a few ways to do this:

Have a plan of action

We all carry different expectations of ourselves and our idea of success in study, so what you consider success will be completely different to what I consider success. Because of this, I can’t tell you what your goals should be; however, by sitting down and working out what you consider to be goals and milestones, you’ll be able to set a course of action to meet those goals at intervals. By breaking your study up into small, manageable milestones, you’ll feel as though you’re achieving success at each one and this will keep you motivated.

It’s also a good idea to know why you’re doing your course and have a definite goal in mind for after you finish. For instance, don’t just say “I’m doing a nursing course, so I’m going to be a nurse when I’ve finished”; instead, say “I’m going to apply for work experience at my local hospital three weeks before I have finished my course, then I’m going to apply for a position as a nurse in the emergency department a week after I have completed it”.

Plan your life around your study

This may sound ridiculous – especially for those hoping to fit in study around their busy lives – however, by planning your study schedule for the day / week / month ahead, and only then, planning your social and other activities around that, you’ll be much more likely to stick to your study. If you plan your study around your life, it’s much easier to make excuses for why you’re going to skip study in favor of a party or similar. Ideally, study should be treated in the same way you’d treat work; however, don’t beat yourself up too much if you can only manage short bursts here and there. After all, even an hour a day is progression!

Plan for stressful times

If you are the type of person who stresses out during assessments, assignments etc. (and really, who isn’t that type of person?), then you’ll do so much better if you can figure out how to manage those stress levels. Our best advice in this regard is to plan well ahead of your due dates and give yourself plenty of time to organize your work and get it done. Again, set small goals along the way – such as collecting all your research on week one, then writing up your draft on week two, ready to hand in your final copy at the end of week three. Any other methods of stress relief are up to you to determine. Whether that’s allowing yourself two nights a week to go out and have fun, meditating, reading a good book or taking relaxing baths each night, just make sure you set aside enough time to do these things and feel the stress melt away.

Stay social

Similar to the above point, make sure you don’t exclude your social life for the sake of study.

If you do, you’ll very quickly find that you’re not enjoying your course and this will increase your chances of giving up. It may seem very difficult to socialize during the intensive times, but you could make it part of your stress relief tactics. Besides, if you’ve planned your study schedule smartly, you should always have plenty of time to take an hour out here and there.

Connect with the industry

I’m sure you’d agree that – during a course – your interests in the subject of study is piqued? Well, why not take that beyond the ‘classroom’ and start living it! You can join relevant academic or social groups in person or online, attend industry events, join industry organizations (this will not be possible until after gaining your qualifications, in some cases), volunteer or do work experience within your goal industry. Whatever you do, you’ll end up expanding your knowledge and making great industry connections.

Look after yourself

I’ve done it myself – put study before everything else and ended up paying for it with temporary bad health through lack of sleep and stress. It goes without saying that I advise you to avoid doing the same. Even during heavy study, you can find the time to eat well and exercise. Even if it means just stretching in your seat every ten minutes or so, you should never sit still for prolonged periods. Beyond that, you only need to fit in about half an hour of physical activity, three or four times a week, to remain healthy.

With food, your best bet is to plan ahead, stacking your cupboard full of healthy snacks that you can just grab and go. Things like trail mix, healthy granola bars, raisins, nuts and fruit are all great options. Also, keep a filled water bottle nearby so that you’re not tempted to get up and grab a soda or other unhealthy drink.

The CFS Team
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