WRITTEN BY: Tabatha Whitehead

VN, TAA.

veterinary nursing

You started out excited and with all guns blazing. After all you have been dreaming about this forever! You get the first couple of things done and you’re feeling awesome. Then it happens. Life. Life just gets in the way. Now it is 3 months later and you have submitted nothing and you’re panicking. What now?

Life happens!

Whether it is kids, pets, partners/family/friends, illness or the silly season. Life sometimes obstructs you from your study. Life will hinder you at some point in your study, sometimes, there is nothing you can do about it. At the end of the day, things like your health come first. After all, without you, there will be no studying right? It is important to know there are going to be times you just cannot get any of your study done. The key to managing this, is to not get stressed about it. But how?

Schedule your personal time

Sit down and write out your week’s plan. One of those diaries with the times written in already are super helpful. Start out by marking in those times of day that are inflexible for you – this might be the school pick up / drop off times, or permanent work shifts you have. Once you have marked the times you definitely cannot do anything with your study, start looking at other times of the day and start considering, where can you schedule study time?

Scheduling study time

Whilst it is tempting to schedule entire days for studying, this can be counterproductive for most people. Rarely, can anyone concentrate to the degree required for home-based study for more than two hours at a time. If you do need to schedule entire days because of other commitments, it is a good idea to set your alarm for every two hours to get up, stretch your legs, water the garden or throw a ball for the dog for a few minutes to relax and blow the cobwebs out. Don’t be tempted to tackle other tasks (like vacuuming) as this will only open the door for you to deviate from your study plans and you’ll find yourself still cleaning four hours later.

Take a day off!

When you have so much stuff to do, convincing yourself that taking a day off each week is sometimes a hard thing to do. You’re on a roll, you’re falling behind, whatever your reason is for falling into the habit of studying every single day, you need to stop it. A full day off each week not only is good for your mental well-being, but will rejuvenate your brain full enabling you to absorb more information and be more productive on the days that you do study. So grab that diary now and work out which day each week is designated to being a study free day. You can move this day each week to fit your life, but you must have one entire day off!

Don’t get overwhelmed!

After your first few assignments you rapidly begin to realise how much work is sometimes involved, especially if you have a resubmission to do. Don’t be scared! This is your brain tricking you into thinking you have heaps to do and will never finish. To avoid getting into this headspace, rather than diving right into your study, break it up into chunks. You wouldn’t pick up a 400gm T Bone steak and eat it without cutting it up would you (or maybe you would LOL). At the beginning of each subject, sit down and work out what is needed to complete it. Work out what date you should have each section, exam or assignment done by and break it up into little chunks of work. Always give yourself a little more time than you need for each section, that way, if you go well you’ll finish ahead of schedule and you’ll feel AMAZING. But, if it takes you a little longer, it is because life happened but you won’t be disappointed in yourself and feel stressed because you feel like you’re falling behind. This way, when you sit down each day to study, you can see that today, for example, you only need to read over 10 pages of your textbook and do a multiple choice questionnaire. Don’t do any more than your have scheduled for yourself unless your mojo is on a roll today and you definitely have the time to spare. If you have scheduled it appropriately you won’t fall behind.

Moral Support

You’re not the ONLY one studying right now! In fact, many many other students are sitting in their bedrooms studying exactly what you’re studying right now too! Studying via online courses can feel isolating. You’re at home, all alone and there are no other students in the room with you. But do you really need others to be in the same room as you? With nobody in the room you can wear that food stained T-Shirt and nobody cares ;-). We have several avenues to prevent you feeling isolated. If google isn’t quite cutting it and your dog doesn’t know the answer despite bribing him with biscuits, you might need an actual human to help out. To get this help, you can jump on live chat to talk to our Nurse Educators. This is especially helpful when you’re stuck on a small point or having issues with getting started with writing that case study. There is also the student Facebook group, this is a closed group of current students and graduates who you can chat to. Or if you are really stuck or struggling, you can always pick up the phone and give our nurse educators a call. Regardless of your needs, you have plenty of avenues to take.

Use positive reinforcement techniques.

This doesn’t just work for our patients you know……. That’s right, find yourself a reward for your hard work! Set yourself little goals, it might be as simple as if you get your two hours of study done today you get a Freddo Frog. Or it might be as big as each time a subject is finished, you’ll buy yourself a new outfit or pair of shoes. Whatever works for you, give yourself something that you’d consider a treat each time you reach a goal.

Relax!

Are you someone who stresses easily or gets overwhelmed? You might like to consider learning some de-stressing techniques like meditation or yoga. You will learn the most and be productive when you are relaxed. Yes, it is true that some people will be more productive when they have deadlines and things, but even these people need to be relaxed whilst working to a deadline. Incorporate your relaxation techniques into your study days. For example, every two hours when your alarm goes off and you get up and have a stretch and break from your study, think to yourself, are you feeling stressed? If you are, take an extra ten minutes to relax and breath. You’ll more than male up this extra ten minutes in being super productive afterwards, I promise!

Be comfortable and distraction free

Set the scene for productive study by making sure that you have everything you need. Keep plenty of water nearby plus a soft drink or a coffee if you like and don’t forget some snacks! You do not want to get into the nasty habit of using a trip to the kitchen as a way to procrastinate. Make sure the environment is right, some people work better with music playing, others like the TV and some want it to be super quiet. What about lighting – can you see the textbook properly? And space, do you have enough? Studying on the couch might seem like a nice idea, but honestly ask yourself, do you need more room and is the lighting right there? Lastly, are you sitting properly…. If you get a sore neck or back easily, then sitting in the middle of the room on the floor and laying all your books out around you is only going to make you start to fidget and lose concentration, not to mention cause more neck or back issues.

Enjoy your study!

No matter what, always remember why you are studying. And lastly don’t forget, anyone who studies does so to learn, you are not meant to know everything – this is what studying is for. Nobody has ever looked back on their study and wished they never did it, but plenty look back and regret not finishing it!