I’m writing this blog in week 5 of the winter semester, meaning that we are almost 75% done the school year! Isn’t that incredible? In two weeks, we’ll be back on campus – and I’ll be one of the faces you see in the crowd at Union and University.
There have been many things going on in my life: I’m busy mentoring, starting a new club, applying for internships, participating in my other non-profit organizations, and just trying to keep up with school. It’s a lot! I had to cancel two of my therapy appointments because they interfered with my interview schedule. I regret doing that: I would not recommend cancelling your therapy appointments; they’re helpful.
That said, I have been making an effort this semester to focus on what makes me happy. I love my mentoring job and the other organizations I’m a part of, and I see a bright future for the club I’m creating. The one thing that has caused me anxiety has been the growing quantity of tests, quizzes, and assignments. Applying for internships is like having an additional course because I feel I need to spend time doing research and prep for interviews, then yet more hours on self-care after the interview. Combining school and applications has been incredibly stressful for me.
The other day, I was so anxious for an interview that I couldn’t focus on schoolwork at all. I lay in bed for a bit, trying to calm down and take deep breaths. I use the 4-7-8 method for breathing when I’m anxious, which involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding my breath for 7 seconds, and then exhaling for 8 seconds. This breathing method simulates calmness in our brain and helps reduce our anxiety since we’ve signalled to our brain that everything is okay when we have adrenaline pumping through our veins. It sounds simple, but it really works!
Remember my last blog, where I made some commitments? I now do indeed wake up for my synchronous 8:30a.m. lectures each day, which is nice as it’s a task checked off my semester’s list. However, I have been falling a bit behind in lectures due to a long weekend at the Ontario Engineering Competition and my interview prep! Even so, I’m ready to jump back into school now that the competition is over and interviews are done. I want to share with you what I’ll be aiming to do to catch up (since not all of us can be perfectly on time, all the time):
- You’ve probably heard of the Pomodoro method, a studying technique where you study for 25 minutes and take a break for 5 minutes. The Pomodoro method is excellent when you’re starting a task and can’t get motivated and need those 5 minutes as a reward. Unfortunately, a 5-minute break is that the 5-minute break sometimes turns into 10 minutes, then 20 minutes, then 50 minutes. When that happens, the Pomodoro method becomes ineffective. Some individuals really excel with the Pomodoro method, but it might not be the best for every student due to everyone’s different studying habits.
- One other method is the 4-hour study method, where you enter a deep workflow for 4 hours and continue until your 4 hours are up. During the 4 hour study method, you’re recommended to sit comfortably, grab the water and snacks you need, and prepare to intensely concentrate to reduce the number of times you need to leave your desk. When using this system, take a 10-minute break once an hour. The idea between a more extended study period versus the Pomodoro method is to reduce the number of times you need to begin focusing. Getting into the study mindset is hard, and it isn’t easy to study when you’re leaving and coming back to study constantly. The 4-hour study method allows you to use your brain’s power solely for working, rather than using it to start concentrating every time you leave your desk. It’s like a car – it takes more energy to accelerate and decelerate often than to stay at a constant speed for a long time.
- The drawback of the 4-hour method is that you won’t be able to do many of these sessions in a day. Attempting more than two in a day (i.e. 8 hours’ total work) isn’t advisable, and you are likely to be more tired the following day. Balance busier, intense workdays with days when you just kick back, relax, and indulge in some self-care. Doing so will help solidify your memory and understanding anyway!
I will use the 4-hour study method (or at least recognize the importance of staying in a study headspace for as long as possible) to catch up on some of my work! Additionally, I will be working with friends to study, as explaining concepts out loud will help solidify my knowledge rather than writing alone. This way, I hope to get assignments done together and quicker rather than alone and slower.
With reading week coming up soon, I want to end these last weeks strong, so I can take a break before heading back to campus. I’m going to hide my phone across the room whenever I work and try to stay in the study groove for as long as possible.
Hopefully, you’ll like either the Pomodoro method or the 4-hour study method! I’m happy to have shared them with you.