September was approaching fast and summer seemed like a distant memory, the type you rather forget; not because something bad had happened, no, frankly quite the opposite. Nothing enjoyable happened during summer 2020. September had arrived marking the start of new academic year. The back to school banners where outside the shops and just like most students I too, bought plenty of pens, re-fill pads and highlighters just in case -first mistake.
Although I knew my first year of university at King’s would be starting online and I was beyond exited for my new chapter, I didn’t quite anticipate how MUCH of a difference it would be. Soon I realised the way I used to study -take notes as the lecturer speaks, go home read the book chapter, compile your notes and highlight important aspects, was somewhat outdated. I would find myself swamped with notes, pre-notes and lectures to catch up on since it took me three to five hours to fully digest one pre-recorded lecture that was around 1,5h long. Exhausting… And yes, I did have the thought ‘maybe I am not smart enough for this’ however, after voicing my concern with others on my course it became apparent -we all were struggling.
Although hesitant at first, our cohort reached out to the Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine, expressing our concerns with online learning. Soon there were more online-live tutorials and guidance on how to study effectively sent out to us. There is a saying I believe, ‘it’s better to have learned and have lost, than never to have learned at all’, which yes cliché, nevertheless serves a purpose here.
At the start of this blog, I mentioned how buying all that stationary was my first mistake. I’ve managed to cut down on excessive study time and yet do the same quality work I did before. Below I’ve compiled my best tips and how I did that:
- Taking notes – when taking lecture notes for pre-recorded or live-online lecture, just jot down extra points the lecturer says. Right after the lecture sit down and challenge yourself to write three things you remember. It will give you a chance to assess how well you were listening during the session. After, compile your notes using the lecture slides and if you write by hand, this is the time-consuming step for you. Personally, I use PowerPoint note function and OneNote. I write down my notes at the same time and print them after the lecture. This way I have the slides and my additional notes all in one go.
- Motivation – establish a routine and motivation will follow. When I started waking up early every day after a week it didn’t seem like chore. If you just are starting out and can’t get into the habit of studying effectively or you lose focus easily -try ‘study with me’ videos on YouTube.
- Plan ahead – by this I don’t mean the next day, no. I mean your future. Sit down and write an answer to each of these questions. What qualities of life do I find most precious? Have I attained them already? If not, how does my degree or future career help towards attaining them? Notice, I asked qualities of life, not aspects. Lastly, If I continue what I am doing right now for the next five years, will it get me where I want to be? Make a plan, and each day work towards your answers, when you feel unmotivated or down, visualise your mood board and I promise, it works.
- Don’t be so harsh on yourself – 1440 minutes in a day, if one minute was wasted by procrastination you have 1439 minutes to try again. Somehow, we have grown to be so critical of ourselves, leaving no space for mistakes to learn from, but at the same time consoling and being experts of giving advice to others.
After four months of trial and error I’ve managed to cut down my study time to two to three hours, which is the average time taken by university students per lecture. Hope these tips helped you and if they did please share it with others!