Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Diary of an Honours Student: Week 10

This week, I asked readers on Twitter and Facebook suggest topics for my diary entry.  I wanted to know what you wanted to know.  I got two fabulous responses.  Which means, (hopefully) two fabulous posts.

Lucy asked me for Meltdown Management Strategies.  I'm going to call these:

Mmmm.  Delicious, delicious stress.

I have never ever had to pull an all nighter.  Never at university.  Never in high school.  Touch wood I will never have to.

I don't always think that this works in my favour.  As a creative person, I feel that perhaps my work would be better some how if it were fueled by pure stress and adrenaline.  The literary theorist and historian in me think this is absurd.

The reason that I have never had to do this is that I am super efficient and organised.  At the beginning of every semester, I read all my unit guides.  I write down the due dates of all my assignments on fun shaped post it notes and I stick them on the wall above my work space in chronological order.  When I hand something in, down comes the post it.  (I used to stick them in my journal, but found them less inspiring than other things that I could put in there instead).  I was told by my supervisor earlier in the semester that one of the side effects of this is a sense of ownership in my work.  In a sense, my essay becomes my child.  I care about what comes out of it not just because it will be a good mark or a bad one, but because I recognise how much time and hard work I put into it.  If you're like this too, maybe you should do Honours.  Don't quote me, I still haven't made up my mind.

That's not to say that the only way to get a good mark is to do this.  I know you can get a good mark starting the morning it's due because I've seen people do it.  I am awed by these people, and I also hate them a little because they just seem to have such fun lives.  Still, I can't help but think that all that stress isn't good for you.  Especially if something else were to be dropped on your plate at the same time.

So that's tip number one.

1. Be prepared.  Be organised.  The best solution is PREVENTION.

Sometimes, you really honestly can't help it.  Take yesterday for example.  There are four weeks to go until the end of semester, and I catch up with my creative writing supervisor after a lecture she's just given to a class I'm in.  The conversation turns to the assignments I have been doing.  The supervisor drops a knowledge bomb on me- the assignment I have been doing is not the one I am supposed to have been doing.

Cue tears.

Cue lots of tears.  And I apologise to Luke, Carol, Christine and my family for the tears.  It's been a stressful week.

In all honesty I was so tired and confused and angry that I actually cried for a large part of the day.  And I snoozed.  And drank tea.  And generally acted like an invalid.  We'll just call yesterday a write off.

But today?  Today was better.  Which brings me to two.

2. Give yourself time to 'grieve'

If you're organised and you've been following tip one, you have the room to wiggle.  You can watch Bones in your pyjamas with Dad.  You can cuddle the dog until you fall asleep.  You can read the entire fourth Mortal Instruments book in one sitting.  All this without feeling guilty.  Excellent.

Okay, so the meltdown has passed.

There is radioactive fall out everywhere and the townspeople are screaming at you to do something.  So what do you do?

3. Take a panadol

Because you will have a headache.  Make sure you drink heaps of water and eat something healthy and filling.  Crying, screaming and pulling your hair out is exhausting.

4.  Reassess, and get on with it

What do you need?  What does the situation need?  Make a list (I love lists).

5. Ask for help

That's what your supervisor is for.  And believe it or not, they care if you're freaking out.  (Or at least they should)

It wasn't necessarily what I wanted to hear yesterday, but the Creative Writing supervisor told me I needed to get a thicker skin.  I know she's right because my Mum tells me the same thing all the time.  This process is going to help me do that, but I have to know where my allies are and know my own strengths and weaknesses.

I hope this has helped.  And if it hasn't?  Bake something.

Don't have a sad, have a cupcake.



  1. Not everyone is built for all-nighters or morning of submission final stab before deadline. I'm not one either and I don't think I will (though it has come close a few times. just over the 4am bar). It depends whether it works for you and whether it gets actual good results. If it doesn't, then in gods name why would you sacrifice blissful sleep time when you know it will not help?

    Best way to do any job or assignment is to do it the way that fits you, your working habits and gets the job done right.

    Very sorry to hear that your supervisor's been taking you around the bend so long. Even more so that there were tears involved afterwards! But don't fret miss Paull, you'll get through it. You're tougher than you give yourself credit for :) And you'll only get tougher the longer you keep at it. Tough skin you'll be in no time! x

    Great survival tips too Em. I can surly put them into my context which is that possible job I told you about. Deadlines galore it shall be and I'll need a system to stick to if I am to survive. :)

  2. I am terrible for doing all-nighters but they are so not fun! I think mine stem from extreme perfectionism rather than not actually putting in enough work before the deadline, I need to work on that! Your blog is looking fab by the way!

  3. Thank you Laura, the blog certainly has grown up since you first started reading it!

    The good side of your perfectionism is your books! And you truly begin to appreciate wonderful wonderful sleep.


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