The purpose of this blog post is to give general guidelines that I have found to be helpful for work productivity at home. These are tips that I have collected, implemented, and am still refining as I advance in my academic career; because after four years of college reflection and assessment is everything.
Don’t deviate from your “rituals”
If you drink caffeine, tea, kombucha, what have you make sure you have it in your house before you start your day of studying. Trust me! You don’t want to go to Target and come back with more enticing things to do than study. Don’t tempt yourself with procrastination.
One time my coffee maker “broke” on a Sunday study day. This may not seem like a state of crisis so here is some backstory on how I function as an adult. I’m conditioned to drink coffee right when I wake up when I study when I work etc. I drink coffee. So when this comfort was not there I was not motivated to go on. Yes, I know this sounds very dramatic… but you can easily derail yourself when you have a lot of work to do.
During my first week of intermediate statistics my professor told the class that graduate school was not the time to stop drinking coffee. Essetintaily graduate school is a lot of change and having something that brings you comfort whether it be a routine or “rituals”… it is important. Coffee keeps me grounded.
“Don’t tempt yourself with procrastination”
Relax, Review, Set Goals
Set realistic and explicit goals for yourself. I find setting time to study for assignments in graduate school to be miss-leading. While you may have known how long it will take you to write an essay in undergrad this may not hold true in graduate school. In my undergraduate career if I pushed assignment later and later because other work had flooded my day it wasn’t’ a big deal. I would just work on it the following day or get a vodka Redbull and stay up all night.
You can NOT do this in graduate school. The nature of the work is that it is constant and the timeline is not very forgiving. It may take you some time to figure out the timing and scheduling of assignments and you may never fully grasp this. That’s ok. Just start early and bite off a little every day and kick some ass. You are in graduate school because you are a competent person ready to specialize, don’t lose sight of why you applied.
Set a routine with small breaks throughout. By setting small breaks you are not derailed but rather conserving engery/ recharging for a moment.
Don’t forget to set breaks. I put my study times in google calendar with goals attached as well as blocks of break time. This way I will get a reminder that I need to take a break. A lot of the time I feel guilty taking breaks to watch a show with my boyfriend, do yoga, eat and so on. But after I take a break I feel more focused and ready to conquer the list of shit I have to do that day. The good thing about google calendars is that I can see, visually, how long I have been studying. This makes a 45 minute yoga break after 4 hours of studying seem justified. So work at your own pace and if you are starting to feel tense, anxious, emotional change your environment for a bit.
Grad School means studying at least once during the weekend. Personality I try to study every morning but I know that sometimes my mornings may be at either 6:00 am or 9:00 am or not at all. The picture above shows my favorite outdoor study spot. I can not study outside for every long because of the Claforina sun and the lack of a full-sized desk. I have three different spots that I can study at home. My office (currently my living room table) is my most productive spot. So when I have low motivation I do not go to the couch to study I go to where I get the most work done, my office.
Summing it up:
- Don’t deviate from your norm
- Graduate school is not the time for drastic changes in your life, so if you can avoid changing your coping mechanisms. Unless they are unhealthy like eating a tub of ice cream to deal with anxiety etc.
- Relax and review your goals constantly. You will have to learn to be flexible eventually taking an unexpected path towards a goal.
- It’s ok to change your mind! No one is judging you in graduate school, it is not a competition regardless of what the test score distribution is telling you. Run your race, not someone else
- Take time for yourself, you’re not a robot so don’t treat your body and mind like a machine.
- Be mindful of your environment. Is it giving you what you need to be successful? If not change it.