When I first started studying at Greenwich, I was completely overwhelmed with the workload, which mostly consisted of what seemed to me at the time (and sometimes still does) as tonnes and tonnes of reading. I think most of us will agree that it’s a big shock, perhaps particularly when coming to uni straight from A-Levels, that you pretty much have to finish a book per week/ fortnight (considering that at 6th form we’d spend a whole term on one book). Never fear, my fellow procrastinators; here are some tips to help you focus and manage your reading schedule that will hopefully make the task of reading less stressful to those who, like me, find it a struggle. These tips can also be applied to other homework and deadlines you need to meet!
Tip number 1: Timing!
This is perhaps the most obvious, but also the most important tip about deadlines in general, not just finishing a book ahead of a seminar: DON’T LEAVE IT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE! We all tell ourselves that we’re going to start a book weeks in advance, and then panic when it gets to two days before it’s due to be read and we’ve got a fat 500 pages sitting in front of us, unread. My suggestion of a solution to this recurring problem is to set yourself a certain amount of pages everyday up until the deadline. If we can find out how many pages there are, and how long we’ve got before we have to have read the book, we can work out the number of pages we roughly need to read per day in order to achieve the deadline. Breaking a scary looking book down into manageable chunks may help us avoid procrastinating as a result of it looking unmanageable in its entirety. As well as this, having a daily goal of so many pages may keep us motivated to achieve these individual goals, as they are easier than thinking of the whole book as a larger and more difficult goal.
Tip number 2: Rewards
If you’re like me and tend to prefer the company of movies over a book (I have spent nights longing to watch Disney’s Finding Nemo, but instead have found Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre sitting expectantly in front of me), why not set yourself so many pages, then reward yourself for reading them with what you want to do! This doesn’t have to be a movie either; in my case, I read a bit of a book, then watch a bit of a movie as a reward for my progress- you could read some pages, then go for a walk, or play some sport, or whatever it is you enjoy doing. Ultimately, this tip is about making sure you give yourself a break after working through difficult tasks for a period of time!
Tip number 3: Environment
A lot of the time I believe my struggles with being able to focus stem from being in the wrong environment. I have tried reading in a busy setting, surrounded by people who are doing or talking about things that seem much more interesting than the book or text I have in my hand, and I end up putting it down to join in! If you find yourself in the same situations that prevent you from focussing on working or reading, why not try finding a quiet space to focus- if you’re in university accommodation, your room there is a perfect spot designed for studying! If you live with other people, why not find a secluded spot where you can really focus on a task? For me, Greenwich Park is a perfect place for reading or working (take gloves in the winter); you can find nice spot to sit amongst the beautiful scenery during the daytime, where it’s peaceful and easy to work!
I hope these are some helpful tips that help anyone out there struggling with the weight of their workload at uni, reading or otherwise. Try to allow yourself enough time to complete tasks in order to avoid panic, but don’t stress if you make mistakes with regards to time management! Grab yourself a cup of tea and relax.
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