Postgrad study is hard, and needs focus and attention. But it’s important that you stay happy, healthy, and look out for those around you. We’re all in the same boat, so stick together and stay connected.
Postgrad Connections is all about supporting Warwick students through their postgrad life. It’s to raise awareness of the issues that postgrads face, such as isolation and loneliness, and provide a range of resources to help prevent these issues, as well as support them through it.
Take our quiz to see how well you’re doing at the little things in life – because who doesn’t love a little bit of procrastination?
And if you find you’re not doing some things as good as you should be, then check out our top tips on looking after yourself and making your work life a little more effective.
This is a very simple one, but when you’re deep in research, it’s so easy for hours to pass without you ever talking to anyone. Sometimes, it can be the whole day, and that really isn’t good. Next time you go and get a coffee, have a chat with someone. It could be a friend you bump into, one of the library staff, or the people serving you in the café. It doesn’t have to be for long, but it’ll make a big difference to you.
The PG Hub run a number of weekly wellbeing events where you can meet and chat to other students over a cup of coffee and a piece of fruit.
When you’re deep in study, it is so easy to let your eating habits to fall away and instead just snack on all the unhealthy stuff: cakes, chocolate, takeaways. Your excuse will probably be that you haven’t got time to cook properly, but it is so important for your wellbeing to try and stick to a good diet (whatever that may look like for you).
Check out our recipe cards for some healthy meal ideas that won’t eat too much into your day!
We understand that people have different work patterns and times of productivity, so we’re not expecting everyone to go to bed at the same times. What’s important is that you have a regular sleep pattern and a good amount of sleep – between six and eight hours a night. If you struggle with this, check out this article from the Mental Health Foundation about the importance of good sleep, and some tips from the NHS about how to best fall asleep.
You’ve probably heard this a lot, but getting regular fresh air and doing exercise is crucial for your mental wellbeing. Don’t be stuck in the library – try and go for short walks during your lunch break just to stretch your legs and clear your head. Try and do some form of exercise at least once a week. Check out what sports clubs are available across campus for you to join. There’s also the Warwick Sport free Rock Up and Play sessions that take place. All of these are a great way to get outside, clear your head, and meet some new people.
As hard as you work, we all need a bit of down time away from our studies. You may think your partying days of university are over, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid all social activity altogether. Check out what upcoming PG events are taking place within the SU, or have a look at the wide range of societies we have on offer that you can join. Importantly, take some time out each week to meet up with your friends (new or old) and do something different.
Organisation and Time Management
Successful time management is all about you organising how you use your time, so that you are not struggling to meet deadlines and do not feel continually under pressure. It involves you planning ahead, setting goals for yourself and prioritising your tasks.
It’s important to remember that no two people work the same way, and not all our tips will help everyone. Try things out and find out what best works for you. Work out when you’re at your most productive, and when you could do with a break. Try and keep things regular, with a normal bedtime and sleeping pattern. Most importantly, always schedule time for rest, for fun activities, and time for you to look back on your achievements.
University study often involves uneven periods of work in which assignment deadlines may all occur at the same time, or none for several weeks. This can make it difficult to successfully manage your work unless you plan ahead. Making the most effective use of your time can help you to work to the best of your ability and achieve your potential. Lectures and seminars are scheduled blocks of time, but then you have to decide how you will organise the remainder of your time so as to balance your studies with any other commitments that you may have, such as family or employment.
Time management can:
- Help you use your time most effectively
- Lessen anxiety as you feel more in control
- Make you more aware of how you work
- Reduce avoidance of more difficult tasks
First look at how you are currently using your time. One way to do this is to make a chart that covers a typical week in which you log everything you do each day and how long you spent doing it (be honest and record activities such as chatting to friends or using the Internet) and at the end of the week, see how you have used the time. You can’t add time to a week but you can decide to use it more effectively. For example, reading your notes while waiting for a lecture to start, or listen to an educational podcast whilst travelling to and from university. Gaining just 20 minutes of study per day can make a real difference over a semester.
At the start of each term, get an overview of the weeks ahead by noting down lectures, presentations, exams, and assignment due dates as well as your other commitments outside of University. By doing this, you can see where there will be peak pressure on your time which should enable you to plan what needs to be done and by when. A wall chart will provide a visual overview or you could use the calendar on your phone or computer.
Make a list of your commitments for the week ahead and also decide what you want to achieve that week. Refer to your termly plan so that your weekly plan links to your more long-term goals for that term. Keep a check to see if you are on schedule but be flexible as the unexpected can always happen. A daily “things to do” plan can link to your weekly plan.
A mind map is a visual diagram used to organise information. They are a great way to brainstorm ideas and work as a visual reminder of all different elements that may be involved in each task.
If you work hard and are well organised but spend your time on unimportant tasks or maybe you are easily distracted, then you are not making good use of your time. Prioritise tasks by deciding which ones are urgent and focus on these. Prioritising can help you to avoid concentrating on the tasks you prefer or the ones that are easier. For instance, in a choice between reading for an assignment on a course you enjoy that is due in three weeks or preparing a difficult presentation due in one week, concentrate on preparing the presentation. It is also essential that you give the right amount of time to each task depending on how much it contributes to a module’s overall mark; if assignments make different percentage contributions, spend more time on the assignment that has the greater contribution.
Develop successful study techniques such as reading actively and effective note-making as these will all help you to reduce the amount of time you spend on each activity. Focus on the task rather than the time. Think about what you need to accomplish rather than the length of time you are going to study; rather than deciding, “I will study for 3 hours”, decide that “I will actively read 3 chapters, reflect on my reading, and make notes on how they contribute to my assignment question”. It is not the length of time that you study for but how well you use your study time that is important.
Break it down into components (e.g. analysing the question, finding information, planning, writing, and proofreading) then work back from the hand-in date and schedule time for each component. It is useful to build in extra time to cope with any unforeseen event. Immediately after lectures, review any notes you have made while they are still fresh in your mind: you won’t then have to use extra time later on trying to understand your notes. Aim to read before a lecture rather than after it; this will give you a basic understanding of the subject so that during the lecture it will be that much easier to think critically about what the lecturer is discussing. This is just a question of timing and does not require any more effort.
You won't work or think effectively if you are tired and it will actually take longer to complete tasks so you will end up losing time. Study at the time of the day when you know you study best. Gather together everything you need before starting to study and make sure there are no distractions. If you set aside a free day for study, set goals for the day and timetable various study activities, otherwise you may find that the day just slips by.
Impostor Phenomenon (or syndrome) is a psychological pattern where an individual doubts their accomplishments and often fears they will be exposed as a ‘fraud.’ They feel they do not deserve their achievements, and it is often accompanied by feelings of anxiety or depression. It is a common feeling for students in a university or academic environment.
Impostor syndrome was first introduced in 1978 by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes. Their early research focused on the impostor syndrome felt by high-achieving women, but more recently it has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.
In 1985, Dr. Clance developed a system to measure the characteristics of impostor syndrome, called the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIP). You can take the test here.
If you feel you have Impostor Phenomenon, there are several things you can do. Firstly, start a conversation, and talk about what’s going on in your mind. Often, when you discuss your feelings, you’ll find that other people around you have experienced something similar – perhaps even a mentor, supervisor, or close friend.
Secondly, appreciate your achievements. Take time to reflect on your achievements and positive experiences, and next time someone praises you, allow yourself to appreciate what is being said.
Finally, realise the challenges your face. Discussing problems and difficulties with those around you – especially in an academic setting – can normalise the challenges you will often face. This will help to undercut the feeling of impostor syndrome, as you’ll realise you’re not alone in your insecurities.
If you feel you need further help with impostor syndrome, Warwick’s Wellbeing Services have a range of things you can use. Their online wellbeing course, Postgrad Realities, includes a module on Impostor Syndrome, as well as other common issues for PhD students.
There is also wellbeing drop-in services, a counselling service (both face-to-face and email), and the SU runs an Advice Centre.