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By: Caoimhe, Good Start Ambassador and Music Masters student | Posted on: 09 Oct 2020

Getting Down to Work #GoodStart2020

Each year, first year classes all over the world find the idea of using a referencing system a bit baffling, and definitely daunting. Never fear, for I have three fool-proof tips to help you figure it out:

  1. Often, at the beginning of term when a lecturer assigns a written assignment where referencing is required, they will give you an overview of the referencing system that is applicable to your course. They have to explain this every year, and have heard just about all of the questions under the sun, so don't be afraid to raise your hand. ✋
  2. Make an online appointment with Joe or Louise. They represent the CIT service Academic Success Coaching. The sessions will be online or over the phone, will last 30-60 minutes, and are FREE❗ Follow this link, book an appointment in 30 seconds, and figure out all of your referencing worries with a qualified helper: asc/book
  3. Want a quick refresher in the moment? Follow this link to the CIT website, click the guide that applies to the referencing system required by your course, and you're golden: https://library.cit.ie/supports/referencing-guides

My top tip for productivity would be to try the pomodoro technique: Study for 25 minutes, then take a five minute break. Repeat this three more times and that's a two-hour block done. Taking two breaks an hour not only feels good, but it helps you to maintain consistent focus, thereby increasing your productivity. Then, two rules that I've developed for myself that you might find handy are:

  • The five minute break can consist of anything, except time on your phone. I find that if I spend those precious minutes on my phone, I don't go back to the 25-minutes feeling refreshed; I feel as though I've had no break at all ��. I had such issues with this that I now use an egg timer to time my blocks so that my phone doesn't have to be in the room at all now.
  • Be strict with your five minutes. It is totally tempting to push the break to 6, 7.. 10 minutes, but it defeats the whole purpose. Believe me, I've been there - the once doable two hour block gets stretched out to four hellish, directionless hours.

I'm a Good Start Ambassador who is starting her fifth year of study at third-level. My quickfire tips that have emerged from many trials, and much error are:

  1. If I ever find myself procrastinating my workload, I do a 'meditation for focus' on YouTube to better my chances of achieving a mindset that is more in the zone.
  2. Start any new assignment on the day you are given it. Don't roll your eyes - I'm aware that I sound like a stereotypical nerd in a film. It's solid advice; if you start straight away (even if you just draft an introduction or brainstorm the title), it's immediately less intimidating to you, and to the future you. The assignment is no longer daunting, and you're much more likely to work on it each day consistently.
  3. Be conscious of how you spend your time. If your mind and body are asking for a break, grant it to them! I know that if I've been in college all day, I'm very likely to come home wrecked, and spend an hour or two scrolling through social media when I get home. Now, I ask myself; "is this what I really want to be doing, is this going to help me blow off some steam?". If the answer is yes, then I scroll unashamedly, free from guilt. If I think a run would release the endorphins that I'm craving, I acknowledge that desire within me and do that instead.
  4. Did you know that the first universities were established in Europe in the medieval times as a way to satisfy the people's thirst for knowledge? When you find yourself in a study rut, where you can't seem to muster the motivation to even start, try to remember why you decided to come to CIT in the first place. Why did you choose your particular course? What module did you spot in the course breakdown on day 1 and think "I've always wanted to learn more about that!"? Start there. Start with what you love.

To finish, let me paint you a picture. You have numerous deadlines quickly approaching, and after a particularly tiring day of lectures, you have a decision to make; to do a bit of independent work or to take a break. To power through or to rest until tomorrow, that is the question! In an ideal world, we would always push ourselves to do ‘just one more’. We recognise this sentiment in sports; we tell ourselves that even though our calves are burning, we’re going to make it to the end of this song without slowing down. Our arm is aching, but we’re going to get one more rep in. How would it look if we applied this ‘one more’ attitude to our studies?

  • If learning from home, you’ve just logged out of Zoom and instead of walking the short distance to your bed, you read back over the notes that you took in a lecture from earlier that day.
  • If on campus, you’ve just had a lab on campus and instead of getting home ASAP and putting on your pyjamas, you get yourself to the library and do a half hour of focused work. 

That half hour will show you how much work there really is to do, but will also help to encourage the release of the 'feel good' hormone in your brain. You'll be much more likely to come back later that evening having made that small half hour start. This mentality is about gently pushing ourselves; by making one simple decision to ask more of ourselves.

Don’t forget; A Good Start is half the battle.

Caoimhe Browne, Good Start Ambassador and Masters of Music Student

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