If you are anything like me, you use the summer break to decompress after gruelling exams and catch up on other work and life commitments. I love to read frivolous novels and watch movies – anything to get my brain out of academic mode. I take on extra work and tend to things I’ve let slide during the school year around the house (like my poor disorganised closets!). But with the academic year quickly approaching, I’m making small changes to get back into study mode.
I have been listening to a few podcasts to help me prime my brain for the school year. I love the Before Breakfast podcast by Laura Vanderkam. Each episode is under 10 minutes and addresses topics like time management, work/life balance, and building new habits. They include so many simple, small tips that are easy to incorporate into your daily life. And with each episode being so short, I am able to fit it into my day without issue – my favourite time being first thing in the morning.
I am studying the BA History program, so I have also been listening to history podcasts. Did you know that the University of London School of Advanced Study has several podcasts with lectures on various aspects of British history? I’m downloading episodes that are in similar time frames or on similar topics to the courses I will be studying this year so I will have a greater breadth of knowledge and another way to learn besides reading. If you search “University of London” on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts, a bunch of different options come up on various topics such as law and business – so do a search and see if there is something related to your coursework!
I work full time in addition to my studies, so being organised helps me be more efficient. Time spent searching for items is time lost from studying or other responsibilities. Since I do not have a home office, I have had to be creative with the way I organise and store my study materials.
With most of the course material online, I like to print my lectures and reading so I can take them with me to work or on the train. However, over the course of a year this equates to huge stacks of paper. This summer I purchased large magazine files and a bunch of binder clips. Each file is labelled with the title of one of my courses. I use the binder clips to attach reading and lectures together or to clip all of the materials needed for a seminar together. This will allow me to easily find and grab whatever I may need and also is much more aesthetically pleasing than piles of paper everywhere. In addition, when I am focusing on one course in particular, I can take the whole file out to my dining table (and makeshift desk) and when I am finished, I can put everything back in and pop the file back on the bookshelf. No more paper shuffling for me!
During the academic year, my schedule is super packed with work, study, language classes, and social obligations. With so little time for myself, it is easy to get lazy and order in or eat unhealthy prepared foods. In anticipation of this, I am taking time on the weekends to cook food that freezes well to pack in into mason jars for easy, single-serve dinners.
Soups and stews store particularly well and will be a welcome comfort once the weather turns cold and I don’t want to leave the house (especially since I live in Chicago and we get lots of snow and freezing temperatures!). Many soups and stews can last up to 3 months in the freezer if stored properly. If you plan ahead now, you can make a supply of spare meals to get you through until Christmas break!
I hope everyone had a fantastic summer break and that some of these tips prove helpful for you. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you over the coming months through these blog posts!
KellyAnn is studying the BA History via distance learning in Chicago, USA.