Great tips for adjusting back to in-person study

By Joey (Student Blogger: BSc Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics (MORSE))

How has life been for the first few weeks of the semester? Have you adjusted yourself back to in-person study? For me, not really! I am still struggling with the mode of having face-to-face lectures, workshops, and seminars. I am missing the days when there were only four to five online sessions a week. I just needed to get out of my bed, turn on my computer and attend. No make-up, no proper dress code required. On the other hand, I missed the university so much – course mates, the relaxing and comforting environment, the amazing library…

Here are some tips for you to adjust yourself back to in-person study.

Firstly, get yourself prepared both physically and mentally. After a year of blended or online learning mode, and months of summer break, you should now get yourself prepared for getting back into the “learning mode”. Think about what you want to gain and experience when back to the university physically – establishing new social networks, learning a new language, or trying new types of sports. Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new, you can surely benefit from it. You may learn more about yourself, grow personally or even find a dream!  For international students, pay attention to the difference in weather and environment to avoid getting sick.

Secondly, don’t push yourself too hard and bear in mind to maintain a work-life balance. Usually, you cannot get back into the right mode immediately. Do give yourself some time to accommodate and adjust your pace. You don’t need to force yourself to be “perfect”. It’s alright to be imperfect. Just focus on yourself! On the other hand, do consider the balance between social and academic. Do not make your schedule packed. Remember to leave some time for yourself to think – understand your emotions and the reasons behind them and figure out what approaches you should take to deal with the situations or problems.

Thirdly, grab a daily planner if necessary. When returning to the university physically, I thought I would not need a daily planner at first, but my thought was a mistake! I used to mark all my schedule, things to do on my mobile, and it worked. Unfortunately, I overestimated myself and underestimated the tasks that I was now required to accommodate. If you are an absent-minded person like me, I highly recommend you have a daily planner or a to-do list (daily, weekly and monthly). It helps you not to miss deadlines and make yourself deal with matters more systematically.

If you have come across any issues which are out of your control, remember there is always somebody you can get help from and chat with.  If you need advice on friendships, relationships, where to get information on housing, finances, or academic issues, you can contact the College Advisory Teams (CAT Teams). You can also book a one-off appointment to talk through any issues you have come across through the Let’s Talk service. The service is booked by phone. No self-referral is required.

Structuring your Academic Life

Structure Blog Picture

By Azizan (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

After a long period of lockdown full of restrictive measures, most of us are excited to finally have in-person classes and activities as we enter the new 2021/22 Academic Year. Other than your classes, you might be inclined to join some of the societies and public events scheduled over the academic year. This is a great time to finally reconnect and make new connections within the University’s population. However as more and more activities are being introduced each day, it is normal for us to struggle to balance our limited time given the various attractive activities being offered, on top of our classes and given assignments/coursework. Here are some tips that might be useful in structuring your academic life.

Make full use of a Calendar/Planner

Most of us find the Timetable feature on the iLancaster App to be convenient as it allows us to check when our classes are and where the venue is. Consider using your phone’s inbuilt calendar/planner App to write down all your leisure/meetings/meet-up/social plans along with their time and venue. Some Apps allow you to synchronise all your calendars, allowing you to have a better overview of your classes and your recreational plans through a ‘centralised’ calendar. Through this way, you will be able to plan out your day more efficiently and, hopefully, you won’t miss out on your classes or meet-ups!

Break your day into ‘time blocs’

Once in a while, it is tempting for us to overwork ourselves until late at night. This however restricts us from enjoying our leisure time, which can affect our productivity and performance in the near future if done repeatedly. Consider dividing your days into time blocs, let say 8.05 – 8.30 am, 9.35 – 11 am and so on. For each time bloc, assign it to categories: academic, leisure, personal, etc. By doing so, you have set up a boundary for what and when you will be doing your work or when is your rest. It is also a good way to track whether you’re meeting your personal needs or not.

Focus only on a Main Task each day

Many times, when we have too many works assigned to us, we tend to try to complete them all at once by multitasking. However, this is not a good practice, as our concentration is not at its optimum as our mind struggles to divide between the various tasks. By setting a main task at one time and sticking to it, you’re more likely to be productive and able to contribute considerable progress rather than splitting it into small progress for various tasks. In a sense, it will help to complete your task much quicker compared to the alternative.

Stay Grounded

As days progress, we tend to lose touch with time and reality – we’re so ‘invested’ in our work/responsibilities that we fail to notice what’s happening around us. It is important for us to step back once in a while and be present in the moment to appreciate the blessings surrounding us. This helps to prevent us from overstretching on our work beyond our allocated time, allowing us to rest and recover both physically and mentally. A good way to stay grounded is to utilise all of our 5 senses – touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste. This will have a positive impact on your wellbeing.

Integrating a well-refined structure into your everyday life has plentiful benefits. It gives you certainty, and restores a sense of order in your life. Most importantly, having a structure allows you to navigate your day with ease!

Tackling the Exam Period

By Lucy (Student blogger: MSc Management)

Revising for exams is never an easy process and certainly not one that people want to relive in a hurry. However, exams are generally a part of university life no matter which stage you are at, so it is best to be prepared for them. Exam revision can be very stressful. Many of us face obstacles such as a lack of motivation or uncertainty about what is expected of us, but sometimes all we need is a little bit of direction. Therefore, after reflecting on my years of assessment preparation (the successes and the setbacks) I thought it might be helpful to provide some tips on what I found beneficial in easing some of that exam stress.

  • Keep up to date

With an abundance of new circumstances over the past year, including online exams, online teaching and a greater focus on independent learning, it can be easy to miss learning material. Lecturers provide vast amounts of detail in lecture recordings, additional readings and workbooks – so I would just ensure you have double checked the Moodle page. It is also a good idea to be strategic and make comprehensive and logical notes from the pre-recorded materials throughout the year to save time when you revise.

  • Use a variety of revision techniques

When I first came to university I did not know how to begin tackling revision. The types of exams and exam content were different to what I was used to at A-Level, and I often found that trying to replicate techniques I had previously used was not always effective at university level. I learnt that the most effective approach for me was to compile many methods together to ensure a greater comprehension of material such as: re-visiting lectures, condensed notes, cue cards, diagrams and lots of colour. People obviously know what works best for them, but from my experience variety is a winner.

  • Create to-do lists

Often it can be rather overwhelming trying to balance current learning with revision. Making to-do lists can ensure that everything you need to do is written down so nothing is forgotten. Making to-do lists can provide you with the motivation to work towards getting something crossed off, as there is nothing more satisfying than having a finished list. However, one thing I would say in regards to such lists is to be reasonable with yourself. It is very easy to get carried away writing down everything you want to get done but this can often make the targets unattainable. Breaking the lists up into different days can ensure that your goals and strategy work for you.

  • Have a weekly schedule

Again, emphasising the previous point, sometimes we can forget how much time we have in a day to get things done. By creating weekly schedules, you can physically see how many days you have to get stuff done. Mark key deadlines and activities on these schedules so you can actively plan smaller personal targets to work towards. Remember, there are 24 hours in a day – following the 8/8/8 method (8 hours sleep, 8 hours studying and 8 hours for eating, socialising and jobs) often helped me manage me time and my life.

  • Take breaks

Finally, make sure to take some breaks! Having small breaks in-between study sessions for some snacks, exercise (such as walks) or chatting to friends and family is really important. The Pomodoro method of 25 minutes studying for a 5-minute break often keeps me focused but ensures I don’t burn myself out. Looking after your health and well-being is a number one priority when undergoing stressful situations, and by having breaks it allows for a change of scenery while also making it easier to focus on your return.

Best of luck to everyone in their assessments and examinations, I hope these tips can be of assistance to anyone who is feeling a bit overwhelmed and lost. You can do it!

Four tips for motivation in lockdown

By James (Student blogger: BA Politics and International Relations)

Motivation has become an increasingly prevalent issue that I think all students and staff are struggling with at this time of year. When the dark clouds roll in at 4 pm, it seems to be permanently raining, and we are all feeling drowsy and tired with lockdown, of course our motivation will be affected. I know I have struggled with motivation this term. However, I have found a few things that have made me more productive, and maybe they can help you too.

  1. Sleep. Are you tired of hearing about the benefits of sleep? I know I am, but the importance cannot be understated. With the nights drawing in and all of us already feeling tired with lockdown, insufficient sleep will affect our motivation. Who can work when they have no energy?! So, making sure we get a good night’s sleep and getting up at a reasonable time can only help our energy levels and motivate us.
  2. Exercise. Yet again, this is something we all get told to do. Honestly, when I hear the word exercise, I roll my eyes. I do not enjoy it. But, with that being said, exercise has helped me feel more awake through the day and more energised to do work. Even just starting to go for a short 20 minute run a day has helped clear my mind and get in the right mindset for a good few hours of work.
  3. Do not overwork yourself. I know that me and many others are guilty of trying to make up for feeling unproductive by cramming as much as humanly possible into the day. However, I have found out through experience that this only causes tiredness and a lack of motivation over the next few days. So, make sure you don’t cram and wear yourself down all in one day!
  4. Finally, don’t put off work! Honestly, at the start of term, I was very much guilty of this. I would continuously put off work till tomorrow, then the day after, then the day later. This only causes issues as you end up feeling like you are being crushed by the amount of work you must do, which, in turn, affects your mood and motivation to do work. Not putting off work can massively help your mood as you don’t feel behind and this can help you in general with motivation in the future!

I have found that these four key things helped me with mood and productivity during this term; I hope they prove useful!

The importance of work-life balance

By Tsz Yan (Student Blogger: MSc Business Analytics)Balancing Stones

We all know that study is a difficult but important task for most of us. Therefore, some people put all their time into study so as to achieve better academic performance. However, this belief is misleading and may harm our academic performance in the long term. Indeed, having a good work-life balance is a more appropriate way for our study or even life journey.

Firstly, a good work-life balance is able to improve our mental health and therefore academic performance. Whilst studying, we are easily getting to a stage of “burnout” and “stress”. In this stage, your study capability and productivity will decrease because you might feel you can’t understand what you are studying. Therefore, there is a need to take a rest. Try to go outside and have a walk, or chat with your friends/ family members, or even sleep. This will help you to eliminate negative thinking and refresh yourself. As a result, you may “suddenly” understand the knowledge you didn’t understand previously and therefore enhance your study efficiency. To conclude, a good work-life balance is able to improve our mental health and therefore academic performance.

Secondly, a good work-life balance is able to improve our physical health and therefore academic performance. But what does this mean? It means that we need to do exercise regularly. Exercise is really important and can support our study by helping us to perform better academically. Imagine what would happen if you only concentrated on study without doing any exercise, you would have relatively weak physical health. When you have relatively weak physical health, it is easy for you to feel exhausted or even become ill. In this stage, you are not able to focus on your study due to your body status. Therefore, it proves that exercising is needed in your study life in order to enhance your study efficiency and effectiveness. To conclude, a good work-life balance is able to improve our physical health and therefore academic performance.

In fact, we should think more broadly on the benefit of having a good work-life balance. Not only can it improve your academic performance in the short term, but it can also help you build up interpersonal relationships and broaden your horizons. In our studying life, we should go outside to make new friends with different people. We can share a different opinion on any issue and sometimes they may even have some insight on particular things we don’t know. Discussion and communication with friends can help you to broaden your horizons, which may indirectly help you to solve any academic difficulty you face. On the other hand, building up interpersonal relationships can also have benefits not only for your study but also for your life journey in facing any circumstances (such as difficult work situations later in life), since they may provide different angles and insights on these issues and help you face these challenges. To conclude, a good work-life balance is able to improve our study and even life journey.

To sum up, it is essential to maintain a good work-life balance. Firstly, it can help you to improve your mental and physical health so as to improve your academic performance. Secondly, it can help you to build up interpersonal relationships and broaden your horizons so as to improve your academic performance and even life journey. Therefore, I encourage you to have your own work-life balance. Good Luck with your study and life journey!

Balancing Time

Image created by Azizan Anas

By Azizan Anas (Student Blogger: BSc Hons Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics)

“Every second is of infinite value” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Time is a special finite resource that can’t be traded or created. Each of us is given an unknown different amount of time. As such, it is important to spend our limited time wisely and qualitatively as we can’t retract and change what has gone. Nowadays, a student has to balance their personal life, their studies, and their work, as well as their social life. With all the distractions and increasing workloads a student obtains as days pass, it is common to struggle when rationing time. This struggle can lead to stress and opportunity cost as deciding which opportunity to do can result in the sacrifice of another. Here are some tips on balancing your time.

Identify and work on your priorities

Some tasks are important and have to be done immediately. These can be assignments as well as your assigned tasks in team projects that are due soon. It is highly recommended to work on important tasks first, ideally starting as soon as you first receive them. Try to work on them each day, no matter how small your progress is. This is to avoid panic and stress from tasks accumulating as a result of procrastinating. After all, small progress is much better than not doing anything at all. In the end, you should have enough time to proofread and check on your work with the ample amount of time you now have at your disposal.

Create a schedule

Start your day by writing down all the tasks you need to do. Then, split them into 3 categories:

  1. Urgent and Important;
  2. Not Urgent but Important;
  3. Less Important.

The idea is to focus on doing things based on their ranking of significance and priority. By doing so, you can have a rough idea of how you need to spend your time each day. This way, you can plan your day ahead in the morning and use the schedule as a point of reference to ensure that you’re on track with what you need to do.

A 55 minutes study session is a great idea, with a 5 minutes break in between (25-5-25 rule). Our brain cannot handle too much information in one go, so it is good to spend some time unwinding like making yourself a cup of tea, stretching your body or doing simple chores.

If you’re on your personal computer every day, consider looking into free ‘To-do list’ widgets such as the one in Microsoft Outlook. This way you can keep track of what you have been doing and whether you have accomplished it or not. Another useful widget to get is a timer app. I am using OnePomodoro, a time-management application that can make you more focused and efficient in doing your job. Personally, this is useful for me as sometimes I lose track of time and since I am always on my laptop, I often get eye strain. The app will send you a reminder to take a break after every work session (25 minutes) and during this time I will move around to help combat my unhealthy sedentary lifestyle and eye strain.

Avoid multi-tasking

Multi-tasking can be tempting, especially to those who have lots of responsibilities, as a way to reduce total time spent. However, not everyone is successful in it resulting in them experiencing more stress and taking a much longer time to finish. Thus, it is better to focus fully on each incomplete task before moving onto another one.

A big no-no of multi-tasking is doing two activities that require your mental focus at the same time. It is not practical to do so as your attention span will constantly jump from one different topic to another, making you unable to maximise your thinking, which could be counter-productive.

Remember your own ‘me’ time

Once in a while, it is common to have your work so piled up that you feel as though you have to use all of your time to finish it. It is a good habit to be so dedicated but sometimes you deserve some time off for yourself! Go out and have fun: go for a walk, have a tea break with a friend, devote some time off to doing your hobby or enjoy watching Netflix.

Striving and pushing yourself for perfection is good, however to be able to do your work with enough time to maintain a proper well-balanced lifestyle is better. Sometimes, things don’t go as planned and that’s a reality we have to face. Perfectionism can be harmful if you are pushing yourself beyond your limit. As important as your work is, your health and especially your mental wellbeing during this challenging time should be of the highest priority.

To be productive is something good to strive for. However, this doesn’t mean that you should constantly devote all your time to work/learning. Don’t try to squeeze everything in one go. Don’t try to pressure yourself. Without this realisation, you can overwork yourself and this can affect your performance in the end. Having a proper balanced lifestyle can make you productive without compromising your wellbeing. The key for a successful healthy lifestyle is to be disciplined and make it a habit; that can only be forged by doing it repeatedly and willingly to the point your brain registers the routine as a norm in its system. So, make sure to have your day off so you can be energized next time!

Why studying from home is actually decent…

By Safiya (Student blogger: BA English Literature)

‘Studying from home’ initially seemed so off-putting: from connectivity issues to lack of motivation due to being in your environment of leisure, virtual learning was not at all appealing. But sometimes you don’t need to think positively about something in order to enjoy it – you just need to experience it. And, after several weeks of studying online, I think many of us can say that this is actually not that bad.


Why studying from home is actually decent:

  1. There’s so much more time!

If anyone is a (now former) commuting student, you’ll have quickly realised how much time we now have! Balancing work and play was madness, and winging it was all I really did. But due to the lack of extra stress and super early get ups that often came with travelling, studying has never been more enjoyable.

  1. You can attend lectures/seminars from the comfort of your bed

Although it is advised to have a dedicated space for studying, especially whilst being at home, it wouldn’t be terrible to watch a lecture or two from your bed once in a while. You’re comfy, and you’re learning. Win-win.

  1. You can plan (most) of your studying around your own schedule

While seminars may have an allocated time, you can access the recorded lectures and reading materials at your own convenience. Early bird? Night owl? Schedule the lectures for whenever you want! If you want to minimise the number of ‘uni days’ you have, watch the lectures on the same day that you have the corresponding seminar. In this way, not only will the information remain fresh for discussion, but you will have more ‘free’ days for which you can dedicate other things! (P.S – if you’re in a hurry, you can speed your lectures up!)

  1. I’m…getting the reading done?!

Still can’t believe it. But, like aforementioned, due to the lack of travelling and extra stress, there is so much more time for work.

  1. Sleep schedule is now actually a schedule

Again, still can’t believe it. I used to be able to relate to every lack-of-sleep meme there was, but now they all seem like a distant memory.

Although online learning may still seem inconvenient and strange to some, it’s important to remember that this is new for almost everyone! And access to education, especially during a global pandemic, is definitely something we should truly appreciate.

Managing your time and essentially your (uni) life!

By Lucy (Student blogger: MSc Management)

As someone who finds myself more on the extraverted side of the scale in terms of my personality I was absolutely dreading the whole idea of online learning. I get my energy and motivation from the human interaction with people around me and I thought the whole process of online learning was going to be a barrier in terms of my motivation to study and ability to meet new people. The endless zoom quizzes, virtual hugs and tiny squares with familiar faces really had left me in a bit of a slump with the idea of this being the new normal for a while. So, when the first academic week rolled around and notifications for online lectures started firing up I didn’t really know where to begin.

Trying to remember all the online lectures, deadlines and reading preparation can be quite overwhelming and it can leave you thinking that you have such little time to get through the workload. Without the ‘normal’ routine of face-to-face teaching it can be easy to lose track and forget that there’s 24 hours in a day. A lovely lecturer called Poppy once gave me the best advice when it comes to managing your time, deadlines and essentially your life!

  • Using the 8/8/8 system to schedule your day – Its very easy to get overwhelmed with juggling university work, seeing friends and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. But its easy to forget that you can achieve a lot in 24 hours. The 8/8/8 system is a framework for splitting up your day into 8 hours sleep, 8 hours of work (including lectures and timetabled sessions) and 8 hours of time to relax, exercise, eat, socialise or whatever you please. Obviously it is not always achievable but it’s a good target to aim for!
  • Have some form of a planner – whether this is a diary or a calendar being able to physically see lectures, events and deadlines helps to organise your time. You can set yourself mini deadlines in relation to assessments so that everything is not last minute.
  • Make sure you have breaks from the screen – this could be going for a 5 minute walk, doing 10 squats or having a quick chat with a friend. Having little breaks away from the screen helps with your concentration and general well-being.

Whatever your opinion on the online learning situation, I feel it is always important to try and take the positives from new situations – even if it means doing lectures in your pjs!


By Sean (Student blogger: MSci Hons Computer Science)

The words “university” and “smooth-sailing” rarely occur in the same sentence, and it is not just a stereotype. It would be very unlikely, if not nearly impossible, to find a person who can tell you that their higher education flew by without difficulty, especially at a top 10 institute like Lancaster University. Obviously, I am no exception. Despite undergoing two years of a famously rigorous and prestigious pre-university education, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, I still find myself struggling to meet deadlines, failing to understand my notes or walking out of lectures confused. Welcome to your first taste of The University ExperienceTM (albeit one people are less likely to bring up at the dinner table). At the very least, however, I can say there is one thing I have accomplished: I have gained momentum.

Many say motivation is the core of the university student, but I would argue that it is in fact having momentum. While both are essential, I think the latter provides much more of a driving force than the former. Imagine a straight, hilly road with ups and downs, akin to a wavy surface. Now imagine having to cycle from one end to the other. You might see an initially difficult, sweaty trudge uphill but a fast and breezy descent after, carrying you up the next wave, only to be pulled forward by another downhill slope.

If the road is the academic university journey, the ups and downs are the challenges (coursework deadlines) and the bicycle represents progress. Similar to the analogy, it will be hard to get the ball rolling, especially with the first lectures being on the easier side and so many freshers’ events, nights out and society meetings to tempt you. You’ll end up forgetting to do lecture notes, neglecting difficult topics and leaving coursework deadlines till 6am in the morning the day it’s due. You’ll look at your interactive transcript and your eyes will hover over that 43% quiz score, regretting not studying for the one test you know you could’ve easily aced. Once you’ve traversed the initial mountain, however, the story takes a dramatic turn.

It took me a whole term and a half to get it. Catching up was a lot harder because of all the extra weight on my back, but I lumbered on. And while lumbering on, I hit a point where I realised I was becoming increasingly interested in the course material. Getting myself to start on a day of lecture notes became a little easier, and coursework began to be finished earlier. It was puzzling at first, but now I see why: it was my momentum. Harder to achieve than it could have been, but the end results show.

So, from my experience, here are my words of wisdom: Stay focused in class. Start your coursework a little earlier. Love Island can wait an hour. Do your lecture notes after your lectures, preferably on the same week you had them. The allure of staying comfortable at the bottom of the first hill will tempt you, but once you get that momentum going, the breeze will show you that there is no better feeling.

Time management – How to get out of the mess?

By Jojo (Student blogger: BSc Hons Economics)

Have you ever had times when you have so many things going through your mind but you never really know how to accomplish them? Do you like the idea of trying to change yourself for the better and actually completing tasks way before the deadlines? If the answer is yes to these questions then you are looking at the correct blog post.

Managing your time is very important for a university student because we have so many things going on around us! So what can we do? I have found that creating a timetable for your week is an effective way of ensuring that you are making the most out of your week. A timetable will allow you to be precise of the things that you need to do and when to do them. A clear instruction will aid you to not to procrastinate and use the available time wisely.

How to create a good timetable:

Firstly, create a digital table using Excel or Numbers (or you can create one by hand, but this is less environmental friendly) and mark up all your lectures and seminars that you will need to attend on a weekly basis.

Secondly, ask yourself when do you want to start your day and when to finish, i.e. note down the time that you would like to wake up every day and when to go to bed. Trust me, once you decided to stick with this, your daily routine will be formed and you will definitely feel more organized in daily life.

Thirdly (this is the fun part), allocate yourself different activities or exercises for each day. Things could be reading for an hour, playing sports for an hour, or even learning a new language. This way, you will be surprised that the things you have always wanted to do but never ‘had the time’ to do so, could easily be achieved!

So what are you waiting for? University is a perfect time for you to develop your skills. Time management is a crucial skill in all aspects of your life! Moreover, by allocating the time efficiently, you will not only be squeezing out more time than you’d ever imagined (this way you will be able to do more in one day, which accounts for a lot if you think about the long term), but also, you will develop a healthy routine that all the successful individuals are talking about!


What are the differences between you and other students that you always admire? If you want to succeed, act now! And don’t procrastinate!