Finally, the mid semester break is upon us! During the break, it is important to both rest and prepare for the re-commencement of classes.
The mid-semester break looks a little different this year, as we now have two weeks and are self-isolating at home. So…. what should we do with all this extra time and how can we avoid cabin fever? The Legal Academic Skills Centre (LASC) team is here to help with some of their recommendations.
Amber Withers: EAGLE Program Facilitator
- Schedule your day strategically: Structure your days around when you are most mentally firing. I work best in the morning and past 3pm my brain is mush. I try and put my harder tasks at the beginning of the day, for example devising a paragraph for an assessment. I schedule my more mindless tasks in the afternoon when I’m feeling tired, like taking notes on a simple reading.
- Use your friends to keep you accountable: If you have a hypo you need to complete for a subject, organise a time to have a zoom call with your friends so that you are forced to create some notes on it before hand.
- Make a to do list: Create a checklist and tick things off as you complete them so you can see if you are spending too much time on something or need to rethink how you will spend the week.
- Do something fun every day: I will personally be looking at bad tik toks and trying to recreate the tik tok ‘whipped coffee’ which I am told is just a Greek frappe by all of my friends.
Josephine Le: EAGLE Program Facilitator
- Use multiple monitor screens if possible: I find that having everything open at once across multiple screens works better than having to minimise and maximise a tonne of windows on my laptop screen. This is great especially when you are watching online lectures or Zooming.
- Use headphones: If your family or housemates are also working from home and it’s a bit too loud, try popping on headphones and listening to something that can help drown out excess noise. I personally like to listen to things without lyrics so I don’t get even more distracted – rooftop rain noises are my current favourite!
- Get dressed: Getting out of your pyjamas and getting dressed in the morning will instantly change your mindset from wanting to put on a Netflix show in bed to being motivated to get work done!
- Continue to take breaks: Taking as many breaks as you usually would in your typical day at uni to maintain motivation – 5 to 10 mins every hour and a one hour lunch break!
- Catch up: My midsem break will be focused on catching up on all of the new online lectures and preparing my readings for the weeks after the break.
- Switch off over the weekend: I like to keep my weekends free from work and instead, I spend time hanging with friends online or enjoying my hobbies, which currently includes cooking new recipes, playing Sims 4 and binging Netflix (cliché quarantine activities, I know).
Brigette Mercaldi: EAGLE Program Coordinator
- Schedule in study and break time: During the mid semester break I like to adopt a structured approach to my study. This strategy helps me stay accountable to myself and I can make sure that my day is productive. To create a study timetable I set time aside to work on each of my subjects/assignments and schedule this in as an appointment in my Google Calendar. Don’t forget to schedule in breaks too! I like to take my weekends off.
- Get a head start on revision: This year we have an extra week in the mid sem break, which creates the perfect opportunity to get a head start on revision. I like to dedicate each day of the week (Monday-Friday) to revising one week of my semester. My revision process involves:
- Scrolling through my class notes to make sure that I understand all the content.
- Highlighting any concepts or cases that I found difficult and making a note to ask my teacher for help with these as soon as possible.
- Catching up on any readings that I missed for that specific class.
- Audiobooks: At the moment I am enjoying going walking or running while listening to an audiobook. The app I am using at the moment is Borrow Box, which allows you to download and listen to audiobooks for free through your local public library. Currently, I am working my way through all seven Harry Potter books!
Chantal Morton: Director of the Legal Academic Skills Centre
- Josephine mentioned using headphones and they are a great idea for blocking out noise, and for setting a mood. I find they also help by creating a sense of transition and make it easier for me to focus.
- I try to move each day for at least thirty minutes. If I can, I head outside – I go first thing in the morning when it is quiet to avoid unnecessary contact, and that way I haven’t had time to find excuses to stay on the sofa. There are options if you want to stay in side.
- You could try out some free virtual workouts on the Premier’s Active April. This app also includes an activity timer so you can keep track of your physical activity and create a virtual team to complete workouts with.
- Stay active at home with MU Sport! You can download their Beginner Run plan, take advantage of their Online Fitness videos and Les Mills classes or complete a virtual workout via Zoom.
- My favourite option is learning choreography with youtube. I am distracted and happy at the same time.
- Find something you can control. This might be control over how you structure your ‘free’ time (acknowledging that there might be pulls on your time – like caring responsibilities/work – where you don’t have a lot of control), reading the materials in advance of class, and doing your best to answer the problems set in class (for example, Obs, PPL, Property all give you ample opportunity to take a stab at answers and check in with your teachers later).
- I use lists to help with the sense of control. You might write up a list of the things you need to do to finish your assignments, prepare for exams, take care of your space, ensure you have good food to eat, and manage your health (exercise, food, sleep, etc). Block out the time in your calendar and find a way to reward yourself after you accomplish each task. I am partial to comedy on Youtube and Netflix – but whatever works for you.
- I try to establish routines that mark my transition to and from work and I think you could try the same technique for study. You used to travel to the law school. Now you might be traveling a few feet. Try to create a routine that sets you up to focus and then to relax. Might be a song that ramps you up or calms you down, or time set aside to read the news, a cup of coffee in the morning and a cup of herbal tea in the evening, email/talk with your friends, non-law reading, walks, runs, or dancing in the kitchen. It doesn’t matter what you use for a routine, creating that mental and emotional space between rest and study will help you create and maintain healthy boundaries.
- Be kind to yourself and others. We are all truly doing the best we can in difficult situation.