Check In Time #6-some tips that helped me survive the semester

2:02am, Singapore. I’ve been meaning to post something here to wrap up the year– just that in my last post it didn’t seem like the best time to do so as it was really early on in the month. I was thinking of going to sleep after wrapping up work for today, but I know if I do so I would further procrastinate on this, and then it sorta defeats the purpose of this post anyways.

So before I begin!! Advanced Happy New Year to everyone, and idealistic as it may sound, may 2021 be a better year for all of us. This has been repeated many times but I’ll just emphasize it again: it’s a tough job being a student and trying to balance our academics and social life amiss a pandemic, especially considering the fact that many have commitments outside of being a student that can be physically and mentally draining. So I just wanted to say that I’m proud of all of us!

With the year coming to a close, I would like to share with everyone some key takeaways I had from this semester off the top of my head. For the record, I’m far from a model student myself, but I hope this may be useful to a future first year that may need it!

(Context: I’m studying Bachelor of Arts, so most of my assignments are in the form of an essay or report of some sort)

  1. It’s okay to procrastinate! (within limits)

Yes, you read that right. I think I brought up this idea in one of my earlier posts as well. What I have learnt is that I’m typically most productive in the evenings, and I think it’s because that’s when the sense of urgency kicks in (usually between 8pm to 2am). There’s also a sense of calmness and peace that I feel when doing work in the evenings– towards the later part, when my entire family is asleep, and the only sounds that can be heard are the whirring fan and my typing. Even though I sometimes have morning tutorials, I don’t mind sleeping late, waking up early and taking a nap midday. On the contrary, it helps my concentration better!

After learning that about myself, I try to schedule all the tasks that need the most brain power (lecture notes and recordings,  writing out drafts for essays are some examples) in the evenings. That way, I leave things of lesser priority (organizing emails, arranging notes, clubs and activities commitments, and others outside of school such as household chores) in the day, and can afford to get through them at a slower pace (while squeezing in time to watch Tiktok and living the life of a sloth…)

I mean… so long as the work gets done at the end of the day, that’s what matters to me 🙂 Which brings me to my next point.

2. Don’t plan more than five tasks per day (or whatever number you prefer) (excluding submissions period)

What I have learnt about myself is: on overenthusiastic days, I try to do beyond my to-do list and in the end produce quantity over quality (which… rarely happens to be honest). On under-enthusiastic days, ticking off the first task is hard. In which case, I try and remind myself the consequences that I will face later down the line– one of which, a grumpy 4am Charlene.

So I set for myself the golden rule: whatever happens, just finish this list of 5 tasks. That’s it. When they are done, how they are done, it doesn’t matter: they have to be done with quality. Of course, the number varies from time to time, but I try to stick to a constant number.

And that really helped for me.

3. My two best friends this semester? Google Drive, and Typo notebooks.

I have never been an organized person. Before university, all my documents were a mess, and it was really difficult for me to find copies of things. Looking back, I think that had a negative impact on my learning. This semester, I forced myself to clear my computer regularly, and organize files using Google Drive into one big folder per module, and then subfolders for various things. My hard work paid off when I realized it got so much easier for me to find things, and I could make use of features like the comments feature to make notes for various things.

When taking notes for lectures, I feel that physically taking down notes for me really helped me remember things better (and it also gave me the freedom to make random doodles on the side of the page… hehehe). I particularly like Typo’s notebooks (when they are on discount), as the cover pages are really aesthetic and the layout of the pages are really spacious. Alongside with colored sticky tabs, post-its and colored pens (different color for each module), can’t explain why but it gives me an odd sense of satisfaction when reading them.

4. Zoom tutorials can be a lifesaver! (if you are shy like me)

Yes, Zoom tutorials are definitely not the norm pre-pandemic. I miss the face to face interactions with people in class, and maybe getting to know a few people better in the process.

But Zoom tutorials to me have opened up a world of opportunities as well. Not just the fact that I can roll out of bed 10minutes before class starts, but that it really helps in class participation for a shy person like myself.

Sometimes I want to say something in class, but I’m unsure and not sure how to speak up. As I have the freedom to turn off my camera, I can just unmute myself and say whatever I want with less inhibition that my facial expression will give it away. Should I need more time to think through things, the chat function is always there to help.

That being said, I want to work on my confidence next semester! As interacting with people face to face (eventually) and presenting my viewpoints in a large group is something I need to get used to.

5. Don’t harbor any expectations. 

As I progressed through the semester, I naturally had higher expectations of some modules as compared to others. Usually a combination of previous results, familiarity with the subject matter, amongst other factors. But that made me realize that I imposed much unnecessary stress on myself when there was absolutely no need to, and the modules that I didn’t expect as highly from turned out to be just as good an experience. Maybe even better, given the lesser additional stress.

As cliche as it sounds, I tell myself (often unsuccessfully, I admit) that so long as I have given my best, that’s enough. It’s good to aim high, but sometimes it makes you lose sight of what’s important.

It’s 3:25am as I end this post. Before I end, I just want to end off by saying that it has been a great pleasure blogging here, and I hope my posts have brought a little sunshine 🙂 It has been inspiring for me as well to read the works of the many other bloggers here too–thank you for sharing little snippets of your experience as well.

Here’s to a better next semester! :))


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