What is funny about the way we work as human beings is that we are told to “be rational” in our everyday lives – when we make decisions, when we adopt a certain behavior or attitude, as if our mind is not also made up of feelings. They cannot be separated!
The trick is to find the right balance between what the “rational” part says we have to do and what we really desire to do.
Let’s take an example, shall we?
You have homework to do, but your mind is just not set on it. It’s May – sunny, breezy, vacation-proceeding-y and you want to spend time with your friends. The rational thing would be to do the homework, but you feel yourself bored and unmotivated. Parents are putting pressure on you to “just get it done already”, teachers are asking about it, some of your classmates may have already done it. The stress is starting to add up. Does this sound familiar?
Video-call a friend and do homework together even if you are working on different tasks. Just be in each other’s presence.
Put on some nice music, open up a window and have your favorite drink by your side.
If you have a garden or a balcony, set up a nice working space. Moving between different locations helps and the fresh air is surely not going to do any harm!
Have your friends come over or go over to a friend’s house. Have some time to enjoy yourselves, but then get into the work as well. Bounce ideas off of each other, complain about things or find resources – anything that helps you do the work in a pleasant manner.
Repeating the scenario in a different environment – try to be on the balcony or in the garden. Change it up as much as possible each time. Make different types of lemonade for every meeting, wear different outfits – PJ Monday, Costume Tuesday, etc. Come up with a theme, if possible.
Let’s get this straight – effort and stress don’t make for good work; what will happen in turn is that you will feel frustrated when the grade or result won’t match the huge effort and stress you put in.
“You have to work hard for good results!” says the witch who just flies around on a broom all day and expects things from people.
You don’t have to work hard – You have to work SMART.
By working smart we mean that you offer yourself all the comfort you need in doing your assignments in a pleasant manner, without stress (if possible).
Try out different strategies to see what works best for you.
1. What time of the day do you focus best? Try different ones and see what works – morning, afternoon, evening.
2. Do you prefer to work by yourself or not? If you prefer working while having others around, figure out who keeps you motivated and relaxed and who distracts you. Some of your best friends might not be the best group-learning buddies and that is ok!
3. Do you like to work in silence or to music? Try out different types of music if silence is not your thing.
4. Managing your workload – Some people prefer to sit down for 5 hours at a time and get the assignment(s) done in one day; others like to work for an hour a day and get the assignment done in a week. Both are absolutely great, as long as the work gets done on time! Keeping yourself organized is key!
5. Find whatever silly thing that works for you when doing homework – if you have to create an actual “thinking/focusing” hat on and put it on, do your thing. MAKE SURE, though, that you ONLY put it on when doing homework/studying, otherwise it loses its meaning. This is a great tool to help you physically get in the right mindset until you are able to do so on your own.
6. Pay attention to the little things – what type of light works for you (cold, white light/warm light; lights on all around/ lights on at the work station; powerful light/dimmed light); which chair or position on the couch/bed is more comfortable, etc.
The image of a hard working student sitting alone at a desk with a blinding light coming from the lamp by his side is really old-fashioned. Tailor your learning experience to fit your needs.
Find out what helps you work, keeps you motivated and gets you the grade that you want.
Remember that all of us have at one point felt that we tried so, so hard with an assignment, we stayed up nights, we worked for hours and hours and yet the result wasn’t enough. Ask yourself what didn’t work in the process of getting the assignment done – was the actual work too hard, were you bored, were you intimidated, were you stressed? How can you change that?
Keep the Expectation Witch away. You do things the way they work for you.