Do you struggle to adjust to a hectic routine after a few weeks of vacation? Same. It can be difficult to settle back into the humdrum of everyday life after having taken a break- regardless of whether you stayed put in the same city/country or travelled back home. I stayed in Stockholm over two Christmas “breaks”, and travelled to India over the summer last year. After both those breaks, it admittedly took me a while to get used to student life again. Hence, this blog will share some habits I picked up along the way to help me adapt better and quicker, so follow along!
Don’t leave everything for the eleventh hour. I can guarantee that you will get overwhelmed and more prone to silly and avoidable mistakes. Instead, take a moment to reflect on things you need to get done before or immediately after class/lab work starts again.
If you are starting a new lab rotation in a couple of months, look up labs of your interest and contact PIs. If you have any reading to do, get it done while you have nothing else on your to-do list. If you know you are going to have multiple assignments to submit within a short timeframe, roughly plan out how you would tackle each of them so that you have a framework to get you started. If you are starting a research project (like a thesis or short-term project), find relevant scientific papers and look up the experimental technique you would work with so that you don’t get thrown into the deep end from the start.
Such small steps taken before starting something new can make a difference in how your experience shapes itself. Don’t make it a problem for future you, make it easy for them.
Prioritising and making lists
I don’t know about you, but I love crossing things off lists. It gives me a sense of victory. So if you’re anything like me, this tip will come in handy.
Whether you got back from your hometown or you spent the majority of your days rotting in bed (this is a judgement-free zone, don’t worry), chances are that you have chores to get done to get ready for a new academic session. What helps me is making a tangible list of things I need to get done- a mental list doesn’t work, I will forget something.
Write down everything you need to get done, no matter how big or small the tasks actually are. Once you have your list in front of you, rank the tasks on a scale of “this will take me 2 minutes” to “this will take FOREVER”. Start with the easiest chores on that list. This can even include just getting out of bed. Cross off each chore you finish, and before you know it, you will have established a rhythm. It’s simple physics- an object at rest will remain at rest, until acted on by an external force. You need incentive to get your gears up and running, that’s all.
Take it easy
Lastly, and most importantly, take it easy. Give yourself time and space to slowly adapt to a busy schedule. Going from 0 to 100 too fast might cause you to burn out.
If you are travelling back to Sweden, consider booking tickets to reach Stockholm at least 2 days before your schedule begins. That way, you can properly unpack, remedy any jet-lag, and re-acquaint yourself with your environment before starting anew.
If you never left, consider slowly getting back into a routine 2-3 days before starting your schedule. Finish up laundry, go grocery shopping, and do some meal prep. Try to still enjoy your time off, but be mindful of how you’re easing your internal clock into a routine that does not involve that much sleep and Netflix.
Surround yourself with your favourite people. I say this in almost every blog for a reason. Catch up after the holidays and socialise- watch a show/movie, go out to eat, or work on early assignments together. That way, you will be up and about, but you won’t be miserable.
And that’s about it, folks! I’m sure many of you already have systems in place to ensure maximum productivity, so consider these tips as small adjustments you can make here and there to make sure you don’t jeopardise your health while becoming an academic weapon.
Thank you for reading this far, and if you have any questions, you know where to find me.
My name is Naomi, and I am from India. I am a master’s student in Biomedicine. I have always been drawn towards research and knew early on that a career built around it was the one for me. So as a result, here I am! I enjoy spending time with my friends and exploring the city with them (though the introvert in me also loves some alone time). I hope I can be of some help with my blogs!