11 January 2014

How To Stay in the Library Longest..! (For Students)

I never thought I'd be writing on this. I mean, who wants to be in the library all the time? Surely we'd all rather be doing things with friends, relaxing at home in front of the TV or even better sleeping for 10+ hours. Sadly the time has come when we have to be in the library, whether we want to or not.
If you're a third year you most likely have essay deadlines this month, you could have a dissertation due and of course exams. On top of this you've realised this is your last chance to get the grades you want.
Even if you're not a final year student, you probably have a pretty stressful two weeks ahead of you. This is why being in the library has actually turned into something you want to do, because you need to get at least a 2.1 so that you can get a job and start paying back your student loan (the one you've been spending on nights-out for the last three years).
A common problem us students face in the library is procrastination - the act of delaying or postponing something. Whether its watching YouTube videos of babies laughing like this one:

or looking at cat pictures on BuzzFeed (one of my faves right, especially no.10 now http://www.buzzfeed.com/meganm15/cats-bad-day), we're all pretty good at not doing our work when we should be. I'm going to suggest a few things that will help you stay in the library the longest. 

1. Have a regular working routine. 
Personally I work best in the morning when nothing has happened yet to distract me. I get to the library for 8am everyday and I always sit in the same seat. This might seem a bit weird but I feel like it's much easier to pick up from the place I left off that way. Obviously different people work best at different times but picking a routine and sticking to it will really help your commitment to working hard. It's like acclimatisation, you body gets used to it, and after couple of days it's not so hard. 
2. Resist the urge to look on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or any other forms of social media. 
I know that this is easier said than done but if someone desperately needs to get hold of you they'll ring you. Try to confine your social media checking to your break times. In all reality what could happen that is so big that it couldn't wait 2 hours for you to see?
3. Plan your breaks before you work. 
I suggest taking a proper break every two hours. By this I mean time away from your seat for at least 15 minutes. You might find it easier to break at the end of a point in your argument  or after a certain number of pages of notes you've written. Whatever works for you. Basically you NEED to take breaks. Otherwise you'll get tired more quickly, be more likely to get distracted and ultimately you're more likely to give up and go home. If you plan your breaks ahead of time then you have a short term reward to look forward to. It's much easier to think, only 1 hour more than 5 or how ever much longer you intend to stay.
4. Make sure you have plenty to drink/eat.
A common reason for leaving the library is being hungry, thirst or having a headache. These can all be solved by preparing yourself before you come to the library. Buying food in the cafe everyday is expensive so make yourself a sandwich/salad/pasta before you go. Bring lots of nibbles as well like biscuits and raisins because you might want to eat at your desk.. even if you're not supposed to. Bring a large drinks container and make sure you are continually drinking throughout the day. The library (in Leicester) is often quite warm which can quickly make you dehydrated. Filling your water up can be another quick break and  help you refocus your thoughts too. 
5. Set daily targets.
This one is really important. You want to feel like you've achieved something at the end of the day so set a goal, whether it's writing 1000 words, making notes on 3 topics or something along those lines. It needs to be achievable but also related to the amount of time you want to spend in the library. If you complete it then you deserve to go home early. This will motivate you to work hard, concentrate and feel happier with the work you are doing.
6. Have a reward planned at home. 
Although the plan is to stay in the library as long as you can, there's no need to be there if you honestly think you've done enough and have completed your target. It's important to have something you want to do other than work. I've recently been watching movies to chill out and switch off after 8 -10 hours in the library. You could do literally anything: meet up with friends, go to the cinema, cook a nice meal, have a take away, go shopping even, as long as it's not work. If you don't take time away from your work then you can get stressed out and you will probably lose your stamina after 3 or 4 days. You need to separate work from play and without something to look forward to then what reason do you have to finish earlier? 
7. Make a work playlist.
Listening to music can really help improve productivity and block out other distractions. Even when you sit in the silent zone it's never really silent. I personally choose music without lyrics for working, mainly so I'm not tempted to sing along. Recently I've been favouring the Gladiator and The Dark Knight soundtracks because they're up beat and help me to type quicker but relaxing piano music also works well. Spotify is a really good for this as its a legal way to listen to almost any type of music you could possibly want to and it's FREE. Yes there are adverts every now and then but you can always turn the sound down low during them. 

Hopefully these tips will help you out work those around and on your course. I think about it this way: I only have 6 months more of formal education and a whole lifetime to recover from the stress. Surely it's worth putting the effort in now so that you can enjoy yourself later? 

Good luck to everyone who has exams and deadlines over the next few weeks!