This post was written by an external contributor. Seren Morris has put together a library guide to get all students through this stressful time of year.
Reading week is over and the final semester is fully upon us. First and final year students alike will swarm the library and mercilessly study away from dawn until dusk (sometimes through until dawn again). They will struggle to find seats, waste precious studying time in line for coffee and spend their hard earned student loan on meal deals. They might even commit the cardinal library sin: spending eight long hours hunched over a desk, only to achieve next to nothing. Well, not anymore, with The Ultimate Library Survival Guide.
Everyone’s library journey begins at home, so the first step is to pack effectively. Don’t be weighed down by non-essential books, drowning in loose papers and struggling to find a pen. Clear your bag out, and only pack what you truly need: a laptop, laptop charger, phone, phone charger, headphones, important notes, your pencil case and the essential books. Make sure to pack a bottle of water (preferably reusable), and a packed lunch, but more on that later.
Plan, plan, plan
Now that you’ve reached the library, don’t get daunted by the eight hours or more stretching out ahead of you. The first task of the studying day should always be to plan. Make a list/timetable, prioritise which tasks need to be done first, and estimate how long they will take. Give yourself some leeway and make time for study breaks and lunch. If there are any tasks on your list that will take five minutes or less, do those first. It is an easy way of reducing the amount you have to do, making that list look a lot more achievable.
Ignore your friends
While this may sound harsh, sometimes it’s needed. We all know the feeling of sitting down in the quiet area, getting all your books out and feeling eager to start, only to look up and find your chattiest friend bounding your way? Many a library hour has been wasted chatting to friends out of being to polite or it being too awkward to ask them to kindly leave you be. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, so quietly pop your headphones in and tell your friend you will meet them for a coffee break later.
Take a break
On that note, make sure to take enough breaks throughout the day. Breaks are crucial to your well being, you don’t want to burn out or cause yourself any unnecessary stress. As my previous point suggested, you could go for a coffee with a friend, just make sure it doesn’t run on, and on, and on… Be frugal with your time! Also, if you are partial to a cup of coffee or six, bring your own. The coffee at your student union may seem cheap, but like everything else it soon adds up.
Some people like to work in silence, while others need music to concentrate. So what music should you be listening to? Luckily, Debut have created The Ultimate Focus Playlist, with the option of with or without lyrics. Just one tip, don’t be that person who is completely unaware that they are blasting heavy metal through their earphones for the whole floor to hear. You know who I mean.
It is important to take time for lunch. Set some time aside to eat, don’t scoff down a sandwich while furiously writing away. Leave your desk, go to the cafe and take a proper break. However, try not to get caught up in the meal deal life.
Sure, £3 doesn’t sound like much, it’s a bargain right? Not so much when you do it five times a week and suddenly you’ve spent £15, (not including the extra coffee and snacks…) Instead, take a packed lunch! Why not try one of Debut’s sandwich recipes?
When to leave? Don’t let that one person who spends 12 hours or more in the library each day get to you. Everyone concentrates for varying amounts of time, so don’t be disheartened if you can only study for a couple of hours at a time. What you do in those couple of hours is what matters.
Also, if you prefer to work at 7pm than 7am, that’s okay too! Just be sure to spend an adequate, yet healthy, amount of time at the library, whenever that may be.
All-nighters might not be as productive as you think. While studying at university, especially during this last semester, you have to prioritise your health. Make sure to get enough sleep, exercise, eat well, see your friends and make time to relax. Spending all day, every day, in the library is good for nobody and can be destructive in the long term. Approach your library time as you would a school day; it shouldn’t take over your life.
So, stick to The Ultimate Library Survival Guide and you should be alright. I can’t guarantee any firsts, but I can guarantee a more pleasant library experience, which at this time of year is what we all need.