One of the perks of being a humanities major is the NO FINAL EXAM notice I see on every syllabus. However, that perk comes at a price – the independent research project, of which I currently have three to finish.
Most of my professors, who have been off at conferences over the past two weeks, have graciously offered “research time” in lieu of class, which is supposed to be spent getting all of the necessary materials together so that the paper isn’t as stressful in those last few days.
However, I am the type of person who likes to devote large chunks of time to a project in order to tackle as much of the workload as possible. And so “research time” isn’t very valuable to me when it’s just an hour set aside. But when all of the designated “research time” classes end up on the same day, I’m left with the glorious concept of #ResearchDay.
I’ve had or created a #ResearchDay for myself each semester, and so I’ve somewhat developed a few guidelines to help me have a successful and productive day.
- Environment: I am normally the type of person who can do work anywhere – on a bus or in my room, with the TV on or with complete silence. But on a Research Day, I like to create a very specific environment that has little distractions. For me, that means one of two places: either my desk with headphones providing white noise, or the magnificent DuBois Library, with headphones playing NPR. Note: Everyone has a different environment for productivity.
- Materials: It’s important to bring everything that you need for the day – you’ll be there a while! This includes flash drives, books, notebooks, and music, if you’d like. But make sure you only bring the absolute essentials to your workspace. You don’t want to overload yourself with books or articles and find yourself stressed from the workload.
- Goals: Setting clear and concise goals for your Research Day is key to being successful. Be realistic about what you can accomplish in one day, and make sure it fits into your overall timeline for the semester.
- Break: Now that you have large goals for the day, you should make sure to step back every once in a while so that your workload doesn’t consume you. I like to take five minute breaks between articles and twenty-minute snack breaks before switching projects.
- Celebrate: After a long research day, don’t go home and do more work (as I am prone to do.) Instead, congratulate yourself on a job well done and take the rest of the time as a “me day” and relax. There’s always more work to do, but you have accomplished a lot!
I’m wishing all of you best of luck as we get to the end of the semester!