I am sitting in Belgrade. My last exam is tomorrow so you could say I am procrastinating by writing this. This semester has been a crazy one spread over four countries. For starters I was still working in Hong Kong for the first month when it started, then went to Australia (where my university is) for two months, then flew to Lisbon for a week and am now sitting exams in Belgrade. I won’t tell you it was easy, it wasn’t and it has involved very tempting procrastination opportunities like climbing to a waterfall in Hong Kong, riding horses in Australia and resisting pursuing a relationship in Serbia. Okay I didn’t resist most of the above but it has definitely affected my grades negatively.
So why was it the best choice I’ve made yet and why should you do it to? We all know that study is very important to our future. In most countries this is more or less true and some of us place such importance on it that all we focus on is the grades. The reality is though that your interpersonal skills will be far more useful for networking and managing than your degree ever will. My networking at the Web Summit in Lisbon expanded my network in the startup sphere. This has already been more important to my startup SumOfThis then any studying could be.
Truth be told I received the worst grades I have ever received for the first half of my semester. It wasn’t because of travel, rather because I had the realisation that my degree wasn’t as important as I had previously thought. Luckily I salvaged all of that by rediscovering fear of failure and studying like crazy afterwards as well as prioritising my time better. I discovered my study style more than in the past and found out that after I lose focus there is no salvaging my interest until I get out and exercise or socialise.
My top tips for staying focused when studying on the road:
- Keep healthy – days when I exercised and ate well were always my most productive without exception.
- Take breaks – nothing good comes from studying for hours on end. Don’t feel guilty for taking half an hour off to call a friend or go for a run. Reward yourself with other activities but try not to be too tempted to lose a whole day over it.
- Know deadlines and create mini deadlines for yourself – Pulling an all nighter and staying focused enough to do an assignment last minute while travelling is a whole lot harder than at home. Being prepared also means that if an amazing opportunity comes up a few days before an assignment is due you can take advantage of it without losing too much important study time.
- Travel slow and have fun – there’s no point being on holiday if you’re not spending time to meet locals and see the sights. This means travelling slower to have time for study and sight seeing.
If you’re thinking about studying on the road good luck! It is rewarding and will add a lot of value to your learning experience.