It’s been an eventful month since I wrote my last blog, to say the least. In fact, I’ve written a midterm, completed a major group presentation (my first in-person presentation since 2020), and planned an entire conference for a club. And in the middle of all of this, I had a bad case of the flu (don’t worry it wasn’t COVID-19!).
This was the first time in my university career that I was sick to the point that I couldn’t be on my laptop for more than a few minutes without getting a headache. I couldn’t keep food or drink down. During the first few days, I tried to brush it off and do my tasks as I usually do, but I quickly realized that this wasn’t going to be possible. In fact, it was a bit of a learning curve to learn how to give myself time to relax. Sometimes, you’re sick and you just can’t be productive. If you’re really ill, please contact Student Wellness Services for medical assistance and Accessibility Services so you can get help moving deadlines or receiving other accommodations.
However, you can do a few things to help yourself. Here’s what I tried:
Most importantly, don’t panic about the looming deadlines. The thing about being sick is that we don’t plan it in advance and so we can’t blame ourselves!
Get started on assignments early
When I was sick, my productivity levels plummeted because I wasn’t able to focus for long periods of time. Fortunately, this semester I had started assignments earlier than I would normally so that I didn’t have to do them all at once. When I fell sick, I had already made a start on some upcoming deadlines. That meant I had the opportunity to take breaks whenever I needed because I was not pushing tasks to the latest day possible. It’s not too late to use Reading Week to plan out your due dates and get started—a little will go a long way, especially if you hit a bump in the road!
Contact professors as soon as possible
Even if we plan ahead, there are some things that we just can’t do when sick. For me, this was writing a midterm. I did not want to potentially spread the flu to my peers, and it was also very difficult to study with my recurrent headache. I contacted my professor as soon as I fell ill and informed them of my situation. They were able to offer me a deferred exam. Reach out to those teaching assistants and profs—they’re usually very understanding!
Interleaving can be your saviour!
While my exam got postponed for a week, I was still sick and wasn’t able to study efficiently. I was scared that I would simply memorize the information rather than understand the content due to the time constraint. To combat this issue, I used the handy study method named interleaving. If you haven’t heard of interleaving before, it is a process where you mix—or interleave—multiple subjects, themes or topics while studying. For example, you might make a deck of questions from different weeks of semester, turning from one topic to the next without being aware of what’s coming up (rather than studying only week 1, then week 2, etc.). Interleaving boosts your memory retention and conceptual understanding! My midterm had 4 major topics, so using this technique helped me to understand how each one is connected to one another and primed my brain to answer application-based questions on the midterm. Even though I was feeling under the weather, I was able to do a little at a time and use this efficient study method to boost my studying and my confidence.
Use your SASS resources
As a wise man (maybe) once said, “It doesn't matter how many resources you have if you don't know how to use them.” If you are reading this blog, you are already one step closer to discovering the gold mine of academic resources that is SASS. If you’re really far behind or struggling to come back from sickness, book an academic skills appointment. The expert you will work with will listen to your needs then work with you to develop unique plans to get you back on track. It’ll only take an hour to get started but you’ll save so much more time in the coming weeks!
I hope this semester is going well for all of you. If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being sick, I hope this blog will help you navigate the issue!
Until next time!