In a Slump Study Guide

Staged photo of an attempted study session Jade Vandergrift
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We are now entering the fifth week of the fall semester. Is the slump feeling real?  We’ve settled into the weekly routine of classes for the semester like coffee that’s gone cold. (Although, I hear some people like that?) A project or two have been handed in, some marks have been handed back, tests are being studied for, larger projects loom ahead. Class participation has probably already seen better days. Long weekends will come and go and soon we’ll be counting the days to reading break (maybe some already are), then to winter break, and so on

I’m currently flopping back and forth between a few assignments and thought this article would be a great way to procrastinate. Let me tell you about my difficulties and solutions; maybe you’ll relate. If not, well then hey, at least you managed to get some procrastination of your own in.

Let’s set the scene: The VIU Starbucks has a steady buzz of conversation, background music, and the odd screech of liquid being steamed. There’s enough going on to tune out because I can’t focus on just one. The corner seat with the low chair is, in my opinion, a prime study spot. It makes me nervous to give this information out because it’s where I have finished an impressive amount of assignments. I’m usually left more or less alone.  The customer turnover is high, students and professors alike are in and out without getting too chatty with people who are clearly doing homework. 

Maybe this is more of a me problem. I’m an ESFJ and an enneagram type 2. (Yes, I retook both tests as soon as I linked them in here to make sure I’m still the same person.) I can’t see someone I know and not say hi; it will haunt me. It is the curse of an extrovert: the need to be around people oftentimes works against the desire to be productive. There are people who have the gift of hunkering down in the quiet of the library and finishing project after project, I admire those people. There are days I stay at home to do homework and study; the hours inch by, yet I have nothing to show for it by the time dinner rolls around. 

The following steps are crucial (in my opinion) to surviving university.  I’ll be entering my fourth year in January and through much trial and more error, this list is my constant. Through slumps and bumps and the odd smooth week, it’s nice to feel like I’ve created some sort of order.

  • Step one: Setting deadlines. This may seem obvious, but deciding to work on the same thing for a set amount of time and then switching it up can do wonders. It forces the crunch-time feeling and it’s nice to look forward to putting whatever it is aside after some time.
  • Step two: Take breaks. Walk a lap around the building, stretch, yawn, drink some water, hit those books, first literally and then figuratively. It’ll feel good, I promise.
  • Step three: Read things out loud if you’re alone, or if you’re not alone. Who cares. 
  • Step four: If/when all else fails, pick the project/reading/lab you’re most interested in and pick away at that one. 
  • Step five: If/when that fails, cry a little bit, or a lot. Take a nap, and then hop back to step one. 

If you’re already on a roll, keep cruising! If you feel like you haven’t made any progress all day, it’s probably time for some fresh air or a snack or anything to get your mind off your studies for a little while.  Currently, I’m sitting at step four. I’m leery of skipping step five in case it comes back to haunt me when I’m partway through step three.  Feel free to put the steps in your own order, and add your own. If there’s anything I’ve learned at VIU, it’s that there can never be enough steps. 

If this somehow doesn’t apply to you at all, then please email me with your secrets on how to maintain a healthy relationship with all the assignments, all the way through to the end of the semester.