Every student knows the pain of having to sit in the library for hours at a time. It can be cold, you’re stressed and there’s the temptation to leave your spot in search of food, but you’ve got too many deadlines coming up and don’t even start thinking about the exams!
I don’t know about the rest of the world, but I just can’t study in my room. I’m quite possibly the best procrastinator on the planet, and as a result of that, the worst student. Instead, I load up my bag with all of my reading material, and head out to the library, or if I’m treating myself I’ll go to the local coffee shop and hook myself up.
So, thanks to my extensive experience with libraries, and the perils of procrastination and distraction, here are 10 essentials to make your study session the best it can be.
One.// All of your study materials. This one should be pretty obvious but you wouldn’t believe the amount of times I’ve forgotten half of the books I’m supposed to be reading for my essays. When you have it all on you, the stress levels you’ll be experiencing will decrease significantly. Before you start your studying, find all of the extra material you may need from around the library and bring it back to your desk. Sure, you may look like you’re building a cave from all of those politics textbooks, but it’s worth it when you don’t want to break your rhythm to find that book on the third floor!
Two.// Comfy clothes. I find that I work best when I’m rocking my patented hobo chic style. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I look super classy, but when I’m spending eight or more hours in the library, a band t-shirt and jeans are the best way to go. Layers are key, because the temperature will vary over the course of the day, so I usually have a cardigan, scarf and my coat with me. My super chunky scarf also serves as a pillow when I’m taking a break!
Three.// Snacks. I’m a terrible person when it comes to healthy eating. My idea of three meals a day is some toast and digestive biscuits with my tea, but when you’re revising for exams or writing essays it’s really important for you to eat well. Have a good breakfast, like porridge, before you leave your house, and take healthy snacks like fruit or breakfast bars to munch during the day. If a chocolate bar finds its way in there then it’s a treat! By taking food with you, you’re lessening the distraction of leaving your study area to find food, and dramatically cutting the cost by skipping the over-priced campus food.
Four.// Hot Drinks and Water. What’s your non-alcoholic poison? A herbal tea? Some strongly brewed Earl Grey? The biggest cup of coffee available to man? Whatever it is, put it in a flask and take it with you! I can’t remember the last time I didn’t bring my Starbucks tumbler onto campus with me, and luckily there are a couple of boiling water taps on campus I can use for free, so I make sure to bring some tea and coffee with me in small pots to refill over the day. Again, money saving! And don’t forget water – there’s no use in being dehydrated when you’re trying to crack on with your work.
Five.// Lip Balm. Libraries are a nightmare! You go in, fresh-faced and lightly made up at 8am, and by 8pm you emerge looking like you’ve lived in a desert and never heard of skincare. I don’t know what it is about libraries, but my lips always get super chapped, and I know that my anxious habit of biting my lip doesn’t help. I always keep my Nivea lip balm in my pocket so I can moisturise if there’s even a hint of damage to my lips.
Six.// Life-Saving Things. One day I’m going to write out my university survival kit, which lives in my bag at all times. There are items you should never be in the library without, so I’m going to list them for you now. Highlighters, Post-It Notes, spare pens, a pencil and eraser, glasses (if you’re blind like me), hair ties (if your hair is unruly like mine), chocolate… hey, I don’t have a sweet tooth! Harry Potter has proven that chocolate makes everything better. It’s a rule to live by.
Seven.// A Clear To Do List. Before you leave in the morning, or even the night before, write down everything you have to do in your study session, even the little things, which you might forget. By breaking larger tasks down into microtasks, it gives you a sense that you’re being more productive and spurs you on! I use the Google Chrome add-on, Momentum, which is really popular at the moment. It gives you a main task for the day, and the to-do list in the corner rolls over to the next day if you don’t get everything done. Life saver!
Eight.// Sanity. Does any student have any sanity left? If so, could they lend me some? On a serious note, if you’re going to study, you have to be somewhat rational about it. Nothing good ever comes from freaking out, and if you’re feeling worn down or emotionally drained then I wholly recommend taking a mental health day. Or a mental health morning, if you really can’t take an entire day off. Run a bath, drink some tea, sleep in a bit more. You’ll get so much more done afterwards, when you’ve let your body catch up with the hoops you’re jumping through. Then, pack up your stuff and head off to your study space, and GSD.
Nine.// A Great Playlist. I can’t study in silence. I can’t write in silence. The only thing I can really do in silence is read. This means I’ve got a pretty solid grasp of the inner workings of Spotify, and have stumbled across some great playlists. Find one which is good for you, probably not lyrical, and immerse yourself in the motivation of the scores. I recommend Calm Before the Storm or Deep Focus on Spotify.
Ten.// Determination. This one is the most important. You have to be determined to get something done. You have to want to achieve something, or you’ll end up on Netflix, binging on some new TV show, or asleep. I’m speaking from personal experience. Make sure you’ve got an idea in your head of what you want to accomplish before you leave, and then do it!