Student Weekly Tips: Making the most of your Reading Week

For many of us, Reading Week is upon us! This is a glorious week where you can relax, attend some events, and catch up on your work. We would like to take this time as well to reflect on the first five weeks or so of the semester, one that we’re halfway through already. Here are our personal tips on making the most of your Reading Week!

Person lying on hammock, looking over the sunset.
Photo by Chris Thompson on Unsplash

How to relax

A switched-on flat screen television with someone holding a remote control.
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

“I’m planning to reconnect with my favourite hobbies during Reading Week, especially the ones I’ve been missing and have not had the time to do during the week. I want to binge read as much as I can and watch all the TV shows I’ve really wanted to see but haven’t yet, including Loki and Wandavision. Other than visual entertainment, I want to do some physically relaxing activities too. I vow to take a stroll around the park on a sunny day, and cosy up with a book on a rainy night. I’m also hoping to attend some gym classes I haven’t had the chance to before, and that’s my way of pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I’ll spend more time with some friends and catch up on the phone with family. I’m really looking forward to it!” — Salma, Politics and International Relations

Hiker with large backpack
Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash

“I enjoy using some time in my Reading Week to go on long hikes in nature. Everyone usually goes to the most popular spots with students, such as Edale or The Hope Valley in the Peak District. Those are still worth a visit, but if you want to journey somewhere still fairly close by and different, I have two spots to recommend. Students don’t tend to venture here, but Bamford, Marsden and Todmorden Dam are wonderful places to visit. All have their own railway station. Once in Bamford, I recommend doing a 3 hour trek around the Derwent Dam or, alternatively, a similar trek around Ladybower. You can find both routes on Komoot, a fantastic hiking app. In Marsden, if you are feeling adventurous, I recommend doing the 16 km Standedge hike that will take you from one glorious valley to another. Alternatively, if a 16 km hike is not up your street, just wandering the Wessenden Valley Walk offers spoils. You’ll get to see a couple of reservoirs, glorious valleys and a lovely waterfall along the way. Aside from this, I use my Reading Week to reflect on some larger life questions that are important to think about.

Book cover of Designing Your Life
Designing your Life via Bookdepository

Recently, I have read a book called Designing your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, which encourages people to use design principles to reframe how they make actionable plans for their future. The book’s foundations lie in the course of a similar name developed to help people make plans for the life they want to live. It raised a lot of questions which I plan to reflect on during my Reading Week.” — Sara, Biotechnology

What to do if you fell behind and how to catch up

Scrabble pieces that spell out ‘Get Good Sleep’
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

“It is tempting to do absolutely everything all at once during Reading Week and that, in my experience, has led me to procrastinate more and stress more often, but this is avoidable. What’s worked for me before is creating a priority list, and I’ve categorised them separately as 1- urgent and important, 2- urgent and 3- important. It sounds very similar but it helps me distinguish the tasks that are time-sensitive and the ones I want to work on that are important (but that can be done after the urgent tasks). I also keep in mind that readings are time-consuming, and this is Reading Week, so primarily I want to read through the material I know will be relevant for my upcoming assignments and tasks later on.” — Salma, Politics and International Relations

Roman numerals on an alarm clock.
Photo by Ales Krivec on Unsplash

“I do have some lectures to catch up, but I think enjoying the break is also important, as you will be back again in the following week. I’ve planned to still keep 2–3 hours allocated each day to make sure I catch up on the remaining lectures I have, and have opted to be using a “timer” to keep myself on track with time. I think this will also help me keep motivated throughout the week.”- Dukula, Chemistry

Nine  blank sticky notes on a wall.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

“Planning your Reading Week is crucial to making sure you balance the work you need to do with other commitments. Something I find helpful is noting down the three key larger tasks I want to achieve in one day. This is my minimum. Then, I split those tasks into smaller sub-tasks and focus on finishing them. I take breaks between the larger tasks which allows me to not break my concentration too much and gives me a sense of achievement when I have finished the overarching goals. After those three goals are finished, I can then decide whether I can take on more projects that day or not. So far, this has been a good system as it has allowed me to work with my energy levels, so that when I have higher levels of energy, I can do more and when I have lower energy levels, I still maintain that 3 large tasks per day minimum.” — Sara, Biotechnology

What events are up

Visitors in Van Gogh Alive display
Image of Van Gogh Alive via Van Gogh Alive Media City

“Manchester has so many events that it’s hard to choose which to go to! Following Halloween themed events this week, I’m going to look for all the creative and artistic events to go to. One I’m really excited for is ‘Van Gogh Alive’! The displays are beautiful and I hope to go during Reading Week if it is not sold out yet. The International Society has their weekly socials which I might sign up for, and there are a few movies coming out as well that I want to see in the cinema! Some of these are Dune, Venom, and No Time to Die.” — Salma, Politics and International Relations

There are so many more events happening, they’re impossible to list. The Student Team recommends taking a look at Visit Manchester, social media, or local newspapers such as the Mancunion to get a feel for all the events happening.

Half-way through the semester: our takes and reflection on the first 5 weeks

Person wearing headphones working on laptop
Photo by Compare Fibre on Unsplash

“For me, the first four weeks were a bit hectic, but the weeks went by quickly! I am in labs coupled with lectures, so it wasn’t really helpful in the beginning as I couldn’t manage my time efficiently. However, I am following a newer time plan which helped me drastically to organise myself, and now I have caught up on most lectures, but could still cope with my lab time. I aim to work on the remaining lectures during Reading Week, so that everything will be finished by week 7.”- Dukula, Chemistry

Person writing list in notebook
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

“Over the past five weeks, I noticed that I needed to change where I keep my notes. I had my notes in various different places — some on paper, others on Word documents, others still on Google Drive. I struggle with this because I do like taking notes on paper and it helps me remember, but I tend to lose those notes quite easily. On the other hand, having notes on Word documents without good back-up strategies can prove to be fatal and Google Drive does not provide a platform secure enough for me to switch entirely to using it. I found a software half a year ago and have been using it on and off, but have now decided to stick with it. I use Workflowy.io to manage my notes and readings from extra papers. In Workflowy, you create a bullet point list of topics or themes. I use my module names, but have started to branch out into general themes and topics as I have noticed overlap between units. Within that bullet point, you can then make more bullet points with sub-topics within a major topic. This is better shown graphically. For example, one of your modules may be about Animal Diversity. Within animal diversity, you would have a series of bullet points which come under that module. Within those bullet points, you could organise wider reading notes and more. This is an easy system and you can also open and close those bullet points to see full lists.” — Sara, Biotechnology

Thanks for reading! We hope you have a good reading week. We’ve linked a few useful links below for studying on and off campus.

Useful Links

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Ran by the Student Team and recent graduates to provide personalised support for current students

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