5 Ways You Can Show Your Textbooks Who’s Boss (Hint: It’s You)

Calling all current and prospective Nipissing University students! Do you find yourself feeling fatigued? Run down? Defeated? Overwhelmed? Are you tired of being pushed around by one thousand plus pages of course readings that you never intended on tackling in the first place? If you answered yes to any—and probably all—of these questions, let me tell you that you are not alone. I too have found myself in the midst of an academic wrestling match; absolutely pummelled by course reading after course reading, all with the high hopes of an even higher (though still illusive) GPA…but it doesn’t have to be this way! Is it too cliché to ask why we can’t all be friends? Anyways, in light of our fleeting Reading Week, I’ve decided to share a few tips that will get you out of the ring, and back onto the academic podium.

1. Be Prepared… For Anything.

There’s nothing more distracting than the need to continually delay your readings because of a broken pencil, or the need for a snack break, or the stark realization that you grabbed the wrong binder (and, alas, need to make the long trek back to your residence). Good things come when you prepare yourself by the twos, threes, and even twelves. Always ensure that you have the proper resources, and that you’re well equipped with the best kind of snacks before breaking open the books. Might I suggest hummus?

2. Step inside of your comfort zone; ready, set, read.

A wise upper student once told me that studying is comfortable so long as you are. Find your favourite spot, kick back, and relax. Whether this be in the Harris Learning Library (sans my favourite spot, of course), your residence, or even perhaps outside during the warmer weather. Set aside a time, and find a place where you can cozy on in, and comfortably take notes about what you’re learning.

3. Get your reward on.

Dare I say it, the idea was inspired by a meme. I’ll give you a moment to cringe before I continue.

It was referred to as the “gummy bear incentive,” and essentially what happens is as you reach a certain spot within the text you eat a gummy bear (wash, rinse, repeat). Simple, huh? While I’ve never found the prospect of gelatin bears particularly motivating, I have instead found success in promising myself long walks around campus based upon my productivity for the day. The same can go for favourite television shows, weekly date nights with friends, and so on. The options are endless; so long as you choose a reward that works for you.

4. Keep procrastination at bay, and learn how to control your distractions.

I’m compelled to admit that we all have a distraction or two. While some students are expert twitter-ers—social media gurus, if you will—others, like myself, have distractions that have taken the form of perpetual snacks and HGTV marathons. Offline, online; whatever the distraction might be, you need to put yourself into a position where you can minimize its influence when you brush the dust off your trusty textbook.

5. Find a topic of interest in the abstract, and immerse yourself in it.

When I’m about to read something, I always first sit down and ask myself what I hope to learn while doing this next required reading. These readings are meant to act as a means to an end, not the punishment in paper format they are perceived to be. If you approach a reading with the desire to learn, it will never feel like chore; instead you might even find yourself excited to delve into the next passage—even if it is a bit monotonous.

Happy Reading (Week)!

– Amber W.