Friday, August 28, 2009

Tips for those returning to school - part two

When you are in the water, swim! Graduate students sometimes expend significant energy worrying about school, feeling guilty if they aren’t working etc. I believe this ultimately makes people less effective when they are working. When you are working, be present with it and try not to let thoughts about other responsibilities creep in. This is your time to work, honor that time – you deserve it and you will work more effectively. When you aren’t working, for whatever reason, don’t expend energy worrying or feeling guilty – be present to whatever responsibility you are dealing with, or if you are taking a break, take a break and enjoy it. You will return to your work refreshed and ready to be productive.

Step away from the desk. When you find yourself getting frustrated, not able to make sense of a reading or unable to write, perhaps your head is too full and the ideas need time to simmer. Take a break and perhaps you will gain clarity by giving yourself space.

If you get overwhelmed, break it down. If thinking about all the work that you will need to do for a course, or in the next month, or in the next week, feels overwhelming, focus on the next step. Sometimes it is helpful to break work down into small chunks – try to focus only on what you are working at the moment and get through that, and then on to the next chunk.

Take good care of yourself. While I encourage you to put something down (an extra area of responsibility, etc.), I’m also encouraging you to hold on to something that is good for your well-being. Exercise, meditation, walking – do something that will get your body moving and help you clear your head. Also, this sounds simple, but eat right (make sure to eat before class) and try to get enough sleep.

Get to know your faculty and advisor. These people are here because they love to teach and are committed to your growth and development. Great conversations await!

All the best! Harriet

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