April, to me, is one of the most confusing months of the Spring semester at Rutgers University. It is the month where we leave winter behind to longer days of sunshine and lighter clothing. It is also the month where my midterms have generally been completed and the only assignments due are scattered readings and essays. Yet April is also an indication of the approaching summer vacation. As an international student, I find that summer is equated with seeing my family once again in Europe. Knowing that there is still a month to go coupled with final exams, I notice that April becomes that “in between” month that often propels me towards a mood of procrastination and laziness. Luckily, after three years of experiencing these same mixed feelings, I have come up with a few ways to rejuvenate my academic spirit and cast April sluggishness away.
1: Switching up my studying environments.
Although April welcomes a warmer temperature, it also ushers in a period of lengthy rainfall (as I am sure we can all attest to this week). Thus, most of my studying locations are indoors.
My favorite place to study is the upper-level floor in Barnes Noble on Sommerset street. I generally like to grab a coffee from the Starbucks downstairs and take it up with me as I study. The nice thing about Barnes and Noble is that it has a beautiful panoramic view on College Avenue. Thus, whenever I am facing a case of writer’s block, I find it helpful to look outside the window and gain inspiration. Spring is a beautiful time of the year in New Jersey, so I always try to avoid closed off spaces with little light (such as the libraries). One thing to note about this location is that it is not entirely quiet. There is often music played in the background. So if you are planning on studying for an exam and need absolute silence, this is not the most convenient place.
Another favorite place of mine to study, is Hidden Grounds on Easton Avenue. Whenever I enter the coffee shop, I feel like I am transported to a different city. At times, I believe myself in a cafe in New York City, and other days, I could even be back home in Switzerland. The cafe has an amazing vibe and offers free wifi access to all its guests. Although it isn’t always quiet, its definitely a peaceful place to study.
2. Making time for short Study Breaks
I have found that allocating study breaks during my day, helps me along more effectively with my work. Knowing that I have a new “The Voice” episode to look forward to after an hour of studying propels me forward. Making time to go grab bubble tea with friends, or catching up on the latest Netflix episodes can be rewarding. However, I have also learned the importance of managing study breaks. What starts off as just half an hour of watching movies can easily lead to an entire afternoon of procrastination. I try to avoid this by setting study goals for myself. For example, I might divide a 50-page reading assignment in two, and allow for a 20-minute study break in between. That way, I have incentive to finish my assignment and have more leisure time afterwards.
3. Be creative and try new things
For me, the surest way towards procrastination is boredom. The feeling that everything is becoming routine and mundane always reflects itself in my academic work. In order to avoid this for occurring, I make sure to push myself to try something new. Rutgers is a huge institution with endless possibilities. Take advantage of it! Just by simply opening up the “Rutgers App” on your phone, you can find all the events and student life activities for that day. Last Sunday evening, I was looking through suggested Facebook events and found a Casino Royale-themed program sponsored by the Residence Hall Association. Since I had time and no pressing school assignments, I chose to check the event out with one of my friends. Having never been to a casino before, the entire experience was new to me and yet I absolutely loved it. Testing my luck in casino games was something I realized I enjoyed doing. It was something different and definitely left a great end to my week.
These are just three ways I have found to avoid slacking off during the month of April. However, they are just the few of many. It is all about testing out different things and seeing what is most suitable for you. For example, I have found that making time for exercise helps energize me during the day. However, I also realized that snacking (healthy food or not) while I study has not been beneficial since I find it distracts me from concentrating on my work. Everyone has their own study habits that work best for them. So try out these three recommended habits, and maybe they might help you too.