There is no denying that everybody expects that the last year of University is the hardest one. The grades are now more important for the final honor’s degree. You probably have a dissertation to write or you have to complete a final-year project and if you were not lucky enough to secure a graduate scheme or you decide to make a change in your career, you have to apply for jobs. And this can be slightly appalling, frustrating and nerve-racking and managing all the demands while also maintaining a shred of social life is extremely difficult. Now imagine that you are going through this while on top of that being in a global pandemic – you cannot socialise as you used to, you probably did not exit the house besides going to grocery shopping or an occasional jog and if you are a European student as I am, you could not take the risk to travel home for the Christmas period. Everything sounds less than ideal… so how am I managing this situation?
1) I focus on my mental health
At the end of the day, if I am stressed or anxious, I cannot manage all the demands. I try to take some time in a day to just do what I love in order to relax. I try to exercise more often. I take care of what I eat and I monitor my sleep pattern. I speak as often as I can with my dear ones…And although I had days in which I felt under the weather or upset, I learned that it is ok not to be ok as long as you ask for help.
2) Prioritise, schedule, revisit
When you have a lot of things to do, the best way to divide your attention is to create a schedule in which you prioritise what are the most urgent things that should be done in a day. This is also critical when you have deadlines for job applications or interviews, and you must make sure you do not lose the track of them. Take 10 minutes at the beginning of each and every day to write down what you want to accomplish. Allocate some time for these tasks. Set yourself some internal deadlines – if they are before the effective ones, even better! Try to be as organised as you can – either you are using applications such as Trello, pen and paper or you plot the demands on your online calendar – everything works as long as you make the effort to prioritise, schedule and revisit what you need to do. Remember, some things do not work out as you want (notably since everything is not so “normal” due to the COVID-19 regulations) so plan for some “slack”, sometime in which you can put in place a contingency plan.
3) Remember that you are doing your best!
There is no need to be extremely hard with yourself! You are doing the best that you can right now and even though you might know that you have the potential to do better (academically, in your job search or professionally) you just need to remember that in unforeseen circumstances, people have different ways to cope with these new situations that arise. You did your best, now think about the new challenge ahead. How can you tackle them even better?
4) Finally… just remember to enjoy the ride
It is hard that you have to complete tasks online, you cannot socialise as much as you would probably want to and it seems like your life is not the typical student one that you were used to in the past.
But if this your final year of university just remember that it might be the last period of time in which you can say that you are a student (with the good parts and bad parts attached to this “status”). Therefore, make sure you are making the best out of it (cue to One Republic’s song – “I lived”).