Staying on Top of Things

by Sarah Mccarley

I have to be honest; I thought honours would be a breeze. This, however, is not the case! I always seem to have deadline, upon deadline, upon deadline. There are live lectures, assignments, presentations, project proposals, literature reviews, just to name a few.

The most helpful thing I have learnt is: keep up to date. The concept of “keeping up to date” seems obvious and easy but when there is no impending deadline, it is easy to just let the work pile up. However, when the deadline comes, which it is bound to do, the amount of work will be astronomical. 

Keeping up to date comprises two skills: time management and diligence. There will be a lot to get through each day so time management and prioritization are key. I find it helpful to make lists going from most important to least important. To keep up to date, you must be diligently putting the hours in each weekday (and even the weekend). And in the words of Dory, “just keep swimming”. You have to keep going if you want that degree.

There are two strategies that I employ to keep up to date : –

  • Attend all your lectures! I am a big believer in lectures. I do strongly think that even just attending the lecture increases your understanding and will contribute to a better mark (I have no evidence of this, but is the reason we go to university not to attend lectures?

Following on attending lectures is, having a reasonable understanding of the lecture material covered each day. I ensure my understanding of the lecture content by making notes on the day’s lecture and then going and asking the lecturer questions the next day if I have any. Keeping up to date with notes is also good to do.

  • Now, don’t forget about the other work: tutorials, practicals, practical write-ups, presentations, essays, thesis work. My advice is to try to smash them out on the weekend or if you have time during the week, try to do a little bit each day.

Finally, there are these amazing things called, reference managers. I highly recommend it! It is a tool to help you in-text reference and to generate the reference list at the end of the document. It can also store PDFs which is a great way to store all the articles/papers that you have read. Reference managers can automatically scan your paper/website (and I’m sure much more) and create the reference. 

Disclaimer: always check the reference was done correctly (yes, you will need to manually check the reference but it will still be quicker than making references yourself).


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