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New Year, New Intentions

Part 4: You Are Not Alone

Forming good work habits takes time. Many of us focus on using willpower but when the willpower goes, we find ourselves reverting to our old routines.
To make improvements it is much better to build on our habits, that way when and how you study becomes part of an established routine.
When you think about your morning routine, getting up and dressed and then making breakfast has (hopefully) for most of us, become automated. We go through the motions without much thought. Something can throw us though, maybe the person before you used up all the shower gel, or the milk has been put in a different place in the fridge (or even more frustratingly not even back in the fridge!!!) It is these moments which can cause our brains to have to kick back in and think.
Want to establish a new habit, then the best thing to do is attach it to a previously strong established habit. Want to do press ups every day, then start by doing 1 press up after you clean your teeth, then increase the number.   
However, sometimes our lives can get hit by a wave that throws everything off balance. It may be that you feel overwhelmed by the amount to do in a certain timeframe or you have a crisis of confidence in your own work.
DON’T PANIC – there are some simple strategies that you can adopt.


Breaking down work into discrete tasks can make your workload seem more manageable.  
If you have a ‘to do list’ that has: Complete assignment 2; or Finish Part 4. These are large undefined goals and won’t be completed in one day.
Try breaking that down the tasks further into the actual steps that you need to do to complete the work.   Seeing what tasks you have ahead can provide a range of activities that you can swap between if necessary. This can really help if you get a mental/creative block.  
In all of the creative arts, most projects will be completed over a period of time. Good scheduling can allow for revisions as necessary.
Small, possibly tiny steps that you take forward one day at a time are proven to make much more long term sustained changes to our behaviour.


This is a great tip that I have picked up from a fellow tutor. When you are creating (whichever medium you are in), just work. If you are a writer, write.  If you are a photographer, take photographs. If you are drawing/sketching/making 3D just go with the process of making. Try not to stop too much and look at what you have done. If the urge is to screw up the paper, delete the document or image files or undo your making – STOP!
Take a break and then come back to your work. If we try to switch our thinking between creating and editing, backwards and forwards in the same work session, we can get frustrated with our work and want to delete/start again.   
When we take a break and then come back to review the work, we often discover that what we thought wasn’t that good, actually has some merit.  
Rather than alternating between create and review in the same session. Use the next session to switch into review mode and make the edits or refinements. Use your learning log to make notes of this process if appropriate. This can help focus the mind next time you sit down to work on the creating process.


If you haven’t yet been in contact with another OCA student, then make that a New Year resolution.  
Sharing work and ideas, discussing issues or stumbling blocks can really help you find a way forward with your work. There is such a wealth of experience and creativity within the OCA community that it will be a real bonus to your work, if you can tap into it.  
For UK based students there are numerous study groups, spread geographically across the country. They meet up, share ideas, sometimes organise gallery visits or a facilitator or demonstrator is booked for the group.  
There is a dedicated space on the student discuss forum for Regional groups and guidance for study events can be found on the discuss forum also.
Together with OCASA (the student association), OCA organises regular study visits to exhibitions around the country. Sometimes these are course specific, and others are suitable for a mix of students from all disciplines.
You can find details under the ‘Study Events’ tab on #weareoca.
Overseas study groups are forming as well, so do keep your eyes posted in you are based outside of the UK
If dates/locations are not feasible for you, or if travelling is just not an option, there are also regular online meets, either via a Forum Live or Google Meets/Hangouts. Details of these are found on the student forum, accessed via https://discuss.oca-student.com/login  Use your OCA email and password to login.


Whatever the issue, do seek help if are having any issues with your study.
You can contact your tutor with course issues or OCA directly on the email addresses below:
Course Support for answers to course content or subject specific questions:
Student Services for queries on study resources, time frames, finance or funding:
Learner Support if there any personal circumstances or disabilities that being to impact on your ability to study:
Have a great 2019 studying and remember that progress comes from small steps and lots of repetition.

“The first time we do an exercise, we learn technique.

  The second, we practice.

  The third, we refine.”

Andy Puddicombe


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Posted by author: Andrea Norrington
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