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TheZigzagoon

University students: How do you deal with the feeling that all the work is overbearing

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I have a 2000 word research proposal due in on Thursday on the topic of British media portrayal of North Korea and communism (subject of my choice), and I have to do 3 interviews for a news story, along with 2 side bars for the webpage with similar content to the news story for Tuesday. I honestly feel like it's swallowing me whole and I can't escape the feeling. The only reason I haven't got them done is because we've had 4 pieces of work in the space of a month, all as time consuming as the other 

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Time management is your friend, the better you can arrange your time to approach your work in a way that works for you, the less stress you'll deal with when deadlines come

I do this by starting on work several weeks before its due, and working in bits and pieces until the week its due, then i spend more time. Personally, i prefer to do things one by one, so this sometimes this approach gets annoying, but when i leave enough time its all okay. 

Basically work to figure out an approach that works for you, but the main key is leaving a loooooot of time.

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by going to a shitty university where you don't really have to do anything, I don't even remember when I would've last needed to do something university-related on my freetime

 

yeah, uh, time management sounds like a good thing, I guess.

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Alcohol and shitposting help if you need an acute and direct solution, but in the long term I also tend to try to start at least one or two weeks before the deadline if possible, so that i can afford to give myself some time to focus on myself / work for other classes as well and just slowly work my way towards the end goal. 

 

If it'd be like a 2000 word essay, say, I'd probably set a daily minimum word limit of around 250 words and then either stop/take a break or continue writing if I still feel like I'm in the flow. Either that, or just take a short 5 - 15 minute break every fifteen minutes while working, but make sure to be consistent with it.

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Time management is your best friend, please, please learn to start your assignments earlier. We got this advice from everyone and most people just brushed it off but it's seriously a life saver. You'll avoid so many meltdowns and so much stress. But since you're already in the middle of the mess here's some overall advice. 

 

-Take breaks OUTSIDE. I don't mean minimise the essay window and go browse Facebook. I mean go for a walk. It'll really help clear your head. 

 

-Make a realistic list of what you need to do. Make lists of everything. Break your assignments in step by step instructions. What do you need to do, what will you discuss, How will you get there, how long it might take to write it out, how long editing will take,etc.

 

-Reward yourself. Okay so you managed to write three paragraphs. Time to eat a chocolate or whatever you like doing. 

 

-Humans can only focus productively for like 15 mins average. So take regular breaks when writing so you don't burn your brain out. 

 

-Talk to people. They're most definitely going through the same thing as you.

 

-But also... Put your social media away. This shit is time consuming as fuck. How will you make this deadline if you're browsing the Facebook or instagram feed every 2 minutes? Answer: you won't. Restrain yourself from distractions. There is software like ColdTurkey that you can install on your computer and it'll block a bunch of websites so you'll have to focus on your work. Trust me, suddenly you'll have a lot more time to do stuff. 

 

-Don't be too harsh on yourself. Drowning in alcohol will only make your uni life worse when all you need to do is just prioritise certain things and your life will be a lot easier. Destroying yourself isn't funny. 

 

- Most importantly!! Work smarter not harder. It's better if you do half an hour of pure essay writing and then take a break than if you do an hour of writing distracted by social media, games. Etc. 

 

I was by no means a perfect student, I just managed to survive a *little* better because in my final semester I finally applied some of these tips to my daily routine. Better late than never. 

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Take it from this oldie who spent too many years at higher education here ^^ Log off of MH now (after reading the rest of this of course)! In fact, put all your social media and electronic devices away until you have done the tasks you have set yourself for that day. Browsing social media and hanging out with friends should be your end of the day treat. Set yourself realistic goals to do for each day, whether it be finish reading 100 articles or writing just 250 word chunks, and manage your time and take breaks around it.

Since your deadline is just round the corner, stock up with easy to make meals and make sure you eat, drink and sleep properly. It's easy to forget to do so and I often ended up not understanding why I couldn't concentrate before a deadline.

Many also find writing their essays on analogue pen and paper to be more productive than typing away on a keyboard, something about the flexibility of pen and paper meant you actually spend less time procrastinating and less likely to be distracted by cat videos on YT. You might also consider going analogue with your practice interviews too. Roleplay and read your script to yourself loudly (with or without an audience), to help you familiarise with possible answers and build confidence along the way.

I wish you all the best!

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This might be obvious, but for some people it helps to go to a different environment. Go to the library and use their PC instead of your laptop, if you don't already. It might help you focus in on the task and spend some hours on it.

 

Other than that, this is how I dealt with it: freak out for a little bit, take a deep breath, then do it.

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It's good to have a list TODO for some next days (at least it works for me). But not a rigorous one but more like flexible plan. You may have those days where you just write everything gibberish and it may be very demotivating. During this time I would more suggest you to read more about subject or something around it. Don't forget about breaks - they are very crucial. For example try to write something for 30 minutes, then do a break for 15-30 minutes, write for 40 mins, and over and over again slowly increasing time you spend on your work and adjusting your breaktime.
Personally when I study I love switching from physics to chemistry and then to maths. It's really effective for me instead of hanging over chemistry all the day. But I think it won't help there.
I think you should be able to do one page in one day, one and half page in second day (I meant here you should be able to increase your progress slowly day by day). You shouldn't forget about thinking about things and go to bed with them. If you are worried you won't remember them in next day - write it down. Have a notebook (or smartphone) somewhere under your bed or somewhere else.
If you play video games much, I suggest you uninstall them unless they don't distract you. All of them. Even mobile games.

If you go by bus/by tram somewhere it's a good time to think of stuff as well.
When I used to do long reports on labs sometimes contacting with other people around the world helps as well. But as I mentioned that in video games part, unless Facebook/Twitter/MV don't distract you.


And PLEASE, don't stay late hours hanging over your work. It's not effective at all. Don't forget about your bedtime, sleeping is important.

EDIT2: Forgot to mention about rewarding yourself after reaching your daily milestones. Eat something what you love, play the game for some hours which you love or do whatever makes you feel better and happier. Staying in good mod during writing helps a lot.

Edited by Yuri

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20 hours ago, TheZigzagoon said:

I have a 2000 word research proposal due in on Thursday on the topic of British media portrayal of North Korea and communism (subject of my choice), and I have to do 3 interviews for a news story, along with 2 side bars for the webpage with similar content to the news story for Tuesday. I honestly feel like it's swallowing me whole and I can't escape the feeling. The only reason I haven't got them done is because we've had 4 pieces of work in the space of a month, all as time consuming as the other 

So I take it your courses are in writing/journalism?

 

Plan what you want to write way before you sit down to do the "work." This should allow you some time ponder and help you form your thoughts/opinions better, then the writing should be easier/faster.

 

As for your workload, not sure I can relate. I took engineering so slaving away in the lab for 14-16 hours a day is quite common place especially during crunch times. Just make sure you do take breaks every few hours and you will make it out of the semester alive. 

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15 hours ago, platy said:

Time management is your best friend, please, please learn to start your assignments earlier. We got this advice from everyone and most people just brushed it off but it's seriously a life saver. You'll avoid so many meltdowns and so much stress. But since you're already in the middle of the mess here's some overall advice. 

 

-Take breaks OUTSIDE. I don't mean minimise the essay window and go browse Facebook. I mean go for a walk. It'll really help clear your head. 

 

-Make a realistic list of what you need to do. Make lists of everything. Break your assignments in step by step instructions. What do you need to do, what will you discuss, How will you get there, how long it might take to write it out, how long editing will take,etc.

 

-Reward yourself. Okay so you managed to write three paragraphs. Time to eat a chocolate or whatever you like doing. 

 

-Humans can only focus productively for like 15 mins average. So take regular breaks when writing so you don't burn your brain out. 

 

-Talk to people. They're most definitely going through the same thing as you.

 

-But also... Put your social media away. This shit is time consuming as fuck. How will you make this deadline if you're browsing the Facebook or instagram feed every 2 minutes? Answer: you won't. Restrain yourself from distractions. There is software like ColdTurkey that you can install on your computer and it'll block a bunch of websites so you'll have to focus on your work. Trust me, suddenly you'll have a lot more time to do stuff. 

 

-Don't be too harsh on yourself. Drowning in alcohol will only make your uni life worse when all you need to do is just prioritise certain things and your life will be a lot easier. Destroying yourself isn't funny. 

 

- Most importantly!! Work smarter not harder. It's better if you do half an hour of pure essay writing and then take a break than if you do an hour of writing distracted by social media, games. Etc. 

 

I was by no means a perfect student, I just managed to survive a *little* better because in my final semester I finally applied some of these tips to my daily routine. Better late than never. 

I agree with so much of what platy said! Great advice.

This past year, I've started setting my timer and working for 25 minute increments (I think this is based on something called the "Pomodoro Technique", if you wanted to look into it). During that time, I turn my phone to airplane mode so there's no distractions. Depending on where you are in the assignment, you could even think about switching off your PC internet for this period of time too. For example, when I'm brainstorming or in the early stages of writing, I just like to get my thoughts out on the screen. Instead of minimizing my document constantly and googling stuff (which could inevitably lead to little tangents into YouTube, MH, etc.), I'll just make a highlighted notes to myself of things to look up later and keep on working. The "googling stuff you need for your assignment" can later be its own 25 minutes. I feel like my productivity has gone up significantly since adopting this method!

Finally, as someone who is also a university instructor, please consider reaching out to your professor for advice or just to let them know that you're feeling a bit overwhelmed. Of course, not all will be accommodating, but some (like me!) will be very receptive and actually welcome such e-mails from students, because it at least shows initiative and that you care for your work. The lack of communication from students is something that I still can't get used to. Do I take it personally? Is it just because the student is lazy and/or doesn't care? Is the student just taking the class pass/fail? Or is something more serious/personal going on that's affecting their work? Basically, it's a lot easier for instructors to offer help to the few students who reach out first. 

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1 hour ago, Yuri said:

And PLEASE, don't stay late hours hanging over your work. It's not effective at all. Don't forget about your bedtime, sleeping is important.

THIS

i don't know how people pull all-nighters. i've never done it before (not for school at least, but only for a funeral) because honestly i treasure my sleep. i told someone once that i never pulled an all-nighter before and they were shocked saying that it was the college experience. lmao so what, why would i want to do that to my health? taking care of yourself is super important when you've got all these assignments and projects due. don't stay up all night trying to finish an assignment. just like a few others mentioned before, it's important to take breaks so that you don't burn yourself out. if you can't meet a deadline, sometimes it's okay to hand things in late.....i did that for maybe 1-2 of my papers. of course, you shouldn't do that if your professors don't accept late assignments, and i'm not saying that it's totally okay to hand things in late all the time. but what i'm saying is that your health comes first before stressing yourself all night over a (stupid) assignment.

 

bottom line, manage your time wisely so that you can avoid pulling all-nighters and ruining your sleeping schedule and overall health.

 

14 minutes ago, fitear1590 said:

Finally, as someone who is also a university instructor, please consider reaching out to your professor for advice or just to let them know that you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.

fitear knows what he's talking about. this was something i wish i had done more often when i was still at uni. i never really reached out to anyone and i ended up stressing over everything and just feeling incompetent about myself. talking with your professors or TAs can really help relieve some of that stress if you're struggling in a class. there are some nice professors out there who'll listen, like fitear!

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Sorry I haven't responded to anyone I've been super busy, I'm finally kinda on track with it all and less stressed. Thank you all so much for the advice, I'll take it all on board!

 

And for those who were wondering, I'm studying broadcast journalism :)

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