As we all know, things are going to be a little different this new academic year. But with a bit of planning we can all still study productively and happily ?

Hi, I’m Claire, an Academic Skills Advisor in the Student Engagement Team. My role is to support students to develop their academic writing skills, but up until recently I was also a student at EHU – having just completed my PGCTHE over the summer. Between March-July of this year, I (like many of you) juggled work and home schooling alongside completing my final assignments. I learnt a lot during this time and can empathise fully with those of you who have been balancing so much these past few months – and may be continuing to do so.

With this in mind, I thought I’d share some of my top study tips..

Study Space

Try and find somewhere comfortable to study. Whilst we might not all be lucky enough to have the space (or funds) to kit out a spare room as an office, there are ways you can make sure that your studying life doesn’t overtake your personal life. I happily spent time in both my living room and bedroom writing assignments; propped up against pillows and blankets with notes all around me will always be my most comfortable place to study! That said however, I made a conscious effort to tidy away the laptop, notes, articles and books each time I finished for the day. Out of sight, out of mind, is a positive here; as you want to be able to switch off when you are not in studying mode. I found a cheap collapsible storage box helped with this.

Box, Storage, File, Carton, Office

I’d fill it with all my ‘stuff’ once I had finished and then put the lid on it! So, if you haven’t got a permanent space to study, think about how you can adapt a temporary or flexible space to work in.

Caring Responsibilities

Studying with children around can be hard. As a single mum of a very lively seven-year-old, I know only too well that juggling studying alongside being a parent is not easy, particularly if you are unable to rely on your usual family/friends to help with childcare. For me, during lockdown, I often had to rely on TV and YouTube Kids to help keep my daughter entertained – I now know more YouTubers than I ever did pre-COVID! Whilst parent-guilt can be difficult to deal with when you’re juggling everything – remember it’s never a long-term situation and workloads will vary at different points in the semester.

Juggler, Trick, Magician, Magic, Juggle

Whilst working to a deadline, I worried at times that my own stress and anxiety was visible to my little girl. However, I was also showing her the importance of not giving up – even when things were proving difficult. Resilience is something we can all develop and rely on to help overcome obstacles and setbacks. My colleagues and I have put together an Academic Resilience toolkit, which you might find useful if you would like to develop these skills further. You may also want to check out Fika, an app which can help support good wellbeing and study habits.

Remember, Library & Learning Services are here to support you with your study skills but do reach out to a tutor or Student Services if you are struggling to balance your commitments.

Time Management

With so much studying taking place now online, the onus is on you more than ever to be organised and keep to deadlines. If you don’t already, try using your phone calendar to keep track of where you need to be and when. I’d be lost without Google calendar and the ability to colour code all my different activities across the week. Set reminders, not just for final deadlines, but also for targets such as completing readings or making plans.

Apple, Calendar, Desk, Device

If you’re looking for tips on how to manage your time or put together a study timetable, our Getting Organised webpages may prove useful. Remember to also take regular breaks from studying, we all need down time and the opportunity to relax ?

Motivational Support

Whilst studying online, I found staying in touch with friends from my course helpful as we could support and motivate each other. You might find group message chats or online catch-ups useful if you are unable to meet in person.

Young Asian businesswoman work at home and virtual video conference meeting with colleagues business people, online working, video call due to social distancing

The Student Engagement Team are continuing to deliver UniSkills (our programme of academic skills support) virtually online. Our team is here to support and motivate you via friendly webinars and 1-2-1 support sessions. Whether you need support with referencing, academic writing or finding relevant literature we can help.

The next few months might be rather different, but there is plenty of study support available. Focus on the positives and plan for any challenges. Finally, good luck to all our new students and those of you returning to your studies – we hope to see you in our webinars and 1-2-1s very soon!

Take care and stay safe ?