How to get back into the swing of things

We are now delving into the second week of the spring semester after a monthlong winter break. Even for me, it is easy to grow lazy despite how passionate I may be about classes, and it becomes even easier if taking courses one may find uninteresting.

Despite what feels like gravity is pulling students away from classes, I have discovered a few tips that have helped me get back into the swing of things over the years.

One key factor that helps me feel productive once again is planning. What I like to do for myself is plan and work ahead in small amounts of time, especially in the first three weeks when classes begin. That way I can enjoy time with friends or personal interests, especially later on in the semester when you feel like I do. With planning, you physically see the events set before you, and it becomes harder to ignore important assignments or meetings.

It also doesn’t hurt to look at your schedule and write on your calendar the main assignments that are due and will affect your grade most. That way you are less surprised and can concentrate on other responsibilities you have or indulge in a mental break.

Another thing I do to help get me back into the swing of things is begin assignments early. With a semester of events often planned in the syllabus, it doesn’t hurt to begin some of the easier tasks. This initial effort to complete some tasks will help you get back into school mode.

So spend time reading about the subject and the assignment, jot down a few thoughts in your notebook, and take pride in working ahead.

When you aren’t planning or working ahead, take five.

Believe it or not, it is great to take breaks. When your mind lacks the space to process what you listened to in a lecture or from information you read in a textbook, it freezes. Unless you have a class afterwards, sit down and observe your surroundings and interesting people who catch your eye. In other words, relax in the world around you for a few moments.

It doesn’t hurt to take a break from your phone, either. When your brain is constantly active, it has no time to create breathing space it needs so it can improve its efficiency. An online article from The Atlantic notes, “…Using phones for learning requires students to synthesize information and stay focused on a lesson or a discussion.” While earlier in the article it describes a cell phone as “a device with vast potential for learning,” it also says that it is a challenge for students who have low literacy skills and who feel they must always be on their phone.

With that said, phones can cut into your understanding, so try to limit your use of it on your free time.

No matter how busy your schedule gets, don’t forget to eat fresh fruits or vegetables! I know, you probably hear it all the time but I’ve found when I make it a habit to choose them over chips, candy, or other junk foods, it enhances my focus when I am listening to a lecture or catching up on reading. All you have to do is prepare and keep them in a small ziplock bag with a small, plastic leftover dressing container, ready to go! When you eat healthy, you may be surprised how much more energy you will have to complete tasks.

In conclusion, I would encourage engaging your friends or fellow classmates about what academic courses that they are taking, their reasons why, and what they have learned so far. Relating to peers about the struggle of a new semester will help you see that you are not alone in this winter war.

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