VSM Pune Branch conducted a 3 session series of workshops for its students to help them identify their ‘aim/goal’ in life & to work towards the same by managing available time & stress. The sessions were conducted a quarter before their exams so that they can use the learnings to work with their study style, maintain stress levels and achieve their short term goal of securing certain grade in the annual exam. We also hope that they will continue using the techniques in the next academic year and years to come.
Training Months: December 2017 to February 2017
Schedule: 3  day over 3 months for 3 hours each
Facilitators: Poonam Jungare, Prachi Kelkar Bhide

Session 1: Goal Setting

Goal setting is the process of identifying what one wants to accomplish and establishing measurable goals and time frames.

For a student, a typical academic goal could be to get certain % in the final exam. Considering this, the students also need to know not only about SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time Bound) goals but SMART study techniques! Thus, the session was divided in 2 parts.
A. Goal Setting
Students were asked to write about news headline & a brief description of that news about themselves that will appear in newspapers 20 years down the line.
Students shared very interesting headlines. Some were linked to their current studies some were not.
This news was nothing but their long term goal. To achieve this goal, they need to break it down in mid-term & short term goals. If the long term goal is not SMART then it is nothing but a dream!

A dream is just a wish that you would prefer to have achieved but a goal is a defined set of objectives with a time bound action plan that takes one ahead in life.

As homework, students were asked to break down the long term goal into short term goal & to write action plan for the same.

B. Effective Study Techniques
 Hard hitting questions like what is study, why do we study were asked to students. After the discussion students realized how they look at studies only to get marks whereas they may study to gain knowledge.
Since everybody’s short term goal was to achieve certain % or pass in the upcoming semester, they were asked to identify their studying style.Few prefer waking up early while other preferred burning the midnight oil. Each one of them were asked to identify and jot down their own preferred time of studying.

They were shown 2 ways in which one could study and also the logic behind those methods. All 3 styles namely Studying by taking stress, studying by being very casual & studying smartly were explained, each one identified their own style, asked to work on their current style and induce to ‘studying smartly’ using an ‘action plan’.

Session 2: Stress Management

Students often get stressed prior to and during exams due to various reasons. Mind maps (a brainstorming technique) was used to get inputs from students on what is stress, why stress gets generated, what happens when stress is experienced, symptoms of stress, how they handle stress, etc.

Brain diagram was showed that explained how stress is a physical reaction of cortex-hypothalamus to an event. How various ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ thoughts/ feelings get generated. We need to work on ‘negative’ thoughts & feelings. Students gave interesting possible solutions like listening music, playing sports, sleeping and crying. They were briefed on how some of these solutions are merely temporary and that various relaxation techniques like exercise, medication, art, expressing, etc. are the only long term solutions.

Another strong analogy of sun and shadow was used to explain how they should ‘face the problem’ and not run away from it. By doing so one can focus on solutions & not on chain of negative thoughts. Difference between ‘constructive’ stress & ‘destructive’ stress was explained with one mother-daughter example. When we use stress constructively, we look for solutions and stay positive. But when we use destructive stress (eg. chewing gum) we go on a roller costar ride of negative thoughts and react to the situation/person which may get us into more trouble than solving the current problem!
They were made to experience ‘Imaginary’ relaxation technique using a short story. The session concluded mentioning how ‘right amount of stress’ is required.

Zero stress may lead to poor performance!

As homework, they were asked to write their stressors and find solutions for the same.

Session 3: Time Management

Time by itself runs on its own. What we have to manage is ‘self’ in the time available! 86400 seconds is what we have per day!

Students were asked to write a simple time sheet of their average day. This made them aware how effectively & efficiently they use or waste these seconds!IMG-20170331-WA0010
Importance of goal setting, action plan & relaxation techniques was reiterated linking it to limited time that is available each day. They were then explained the importance of prioritization by showing ‘urgent-important’ quadrant. Actions/tasks that are –

  • Urgent as well as Important: crises items – do them now!
  • Urgent but not Important: emergency items – reject & explain
  • Not Urgent but Important: prepare for items – plan to do
  • Not Urgent not Important: time wasters – resist & cease

Their own daily activities were then linked to this quadrant & they were asked to avoid time wasters (procrastination & not able to say ‘no’) being the most important factors.
The session ended with ‘follow the instructions’ activity in which they were asked to perform certain tasks. They learnt how we waste time by doing some unnecessary activities!
As homework, they were asked to prepare a time log so that they can study appropriately for the 3 or 4 hours that they get each day!

Student Testimonials…

The session helped me understand my goals & gave me a chance to be honest with myself.

The session gave me a hard realization of how much time is wasted in ‘non-value’ adding activities & I am not going to plan my day better.

The ‘imaginary’ relaxation technique was wonderfully explained. It took me to another world & made me forget all the worries.

Study techniques made me realize that I take lot of stress of studies. But it also helped me understand ‘Smart’ study techniques that I am going to use for this semester.