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What to do when life gets in the way of study

Posted on 02/11/2016 by
Feeling distracted or a little blue? Here are some tips to help you get back on track when "life" gets in the way.

Feeling distracted or a little blue? Here are some tips to help you get back on track when “life” gets in the way.

You’ve written a study plan, mapped out your goals, and you’re on track to graduate in six months. You’re feeling good. Then BAM! Out of nowhere, “life” happens and throws you off track. Maybe you get sick or have a fight with a friend. Or maybe something really exciting happens – like you fall in love.

Whether the distraction is good or bad, the outcome is the same: you can’t concentrate on your studies and you start to feel stressed and anxious about meeting your deadlines.

We can’t predict life’s unforeseen events, but we can control how we respond to unexpected changes in our environment. If you find that “life” is currently getting in the way of study, here are some things you can do to stay focused and get back on track.

1. Don’t beat yourself up

Guilt is a huge energy-sucker. It feels awful, and it will only distract you more. If you fall behind, try not to beat yourself up – instead, look for ways to solve the problem. You’re only human and sometimes life doesn’t go to plan. There’s no point in feeling guilty for days or weeks on end – it won’t move you any faster towards a solution.

2. Write it out

When you fall behind, it’s very easy to get stressed and anxious. One of the best ways to overcome stress is to write down everything that’s on your mind. Scribble all your thoughts in a notepad or write a giant to-do list. Once your anxiety is out of your head and on paper, you can start making a plan of action.

3. Talk to your tutor

Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your tutor if you’re running late – they can’t help you if they don’t know you’re struggling. Your tutors want to see you succeed and will offer solutions and support if they can. Keep the lines of communication open and trust in their advice. Our tutors have decades of teaching experience between them and will be able to help you move forward.

4. Talk to your friends & family

Just like it’s important to talk to your tutor, it’s also important to chat to your friends and family. Let them know that you’re feeling distracted and would appreciate any extra support. In some situations, this might mean not seeing your friends for a few weeks (hard at the time, but worth it in the end).

5. Be honest with yourself

Ask yourself honestly: “why am I falling behind?” The answer might surprise you. Is it for reasons you can control? For example, are you spending too much time with friends or staying up late binge watching TV? Or is it due to circumstances outside of your control, such as challenges with a friend or family member?

If the reasons are within your control, it might be time for some ‘tough love’. Say no to social outings with friends and keep the TV turned off. If it’s for external reasons, see if you can gently remove yourself from the situation. If there’s “no avoiding the problem”, make arrangements with your tutor and make plans to come back to study when you’re ready.

6. Schedule in ‘fun time’

A good compromise is to let life get in the way – but only on your terms. For example, if you love hanging out with your friends and family, schedule in time to catch up with people on a Sunday afternoon, but don’t let them distract you at any other time during the week. This can be easier said than done, but in most cases people will respect your boundaries and do what they can to help you succeed.

7. Give yourself permission to try again

One of the worst things you can do when “life” gets in the way is to give up and stop trying. Just because things didn’t go to plan this time doesn’t mean they won’t go to plan next time. Give yourself permission to try again, again, and again! You will learn and get better as you go. And remember, your tutors are here to help you along the way.

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