One of the things I learnt recently when recording a podcast offering gold advice was something I've always known but never quite appreciated. Some people avoid stepping up to Gold level Arts Award because they perceive it as being too much work. In all honesty if you've done Silver then I can tell you it is not a big step-up. You would spend a bit longer doing things absolutely, you take a bit more control and leadership for your unit 2 and you also do an extra task - write an opinion piece. But having done Silver first and then went on to Gold, it is completely achievable.
So what is it I feel people might be more scared of? I think it could be the fear of becoming stressed when they put Gold Arts Award alongside school, work and a multitude of other things. Believe me I know this pain, but I also know the reward!
As an adviser I see young people going through this all the time. I still have my young persons railcard, hell I still go through this period of of too much work clashing with a personal life. Albeit in my case that being organising a wedding and buying a house. Reading the contracts is just like reading books for an essay (equally as dry)!
With Christmas coming up, there is always that added level of pressure, fewer weeks in December means you think - when am I going to do all this? What about buying presents?
Despite my best efforts and advice it is rare 'all-nighters' are avoided when an assessment deadline is looming. It's probably just human nature.
But what can you do to avoid stress?
- Plan your tasks
- Make a list of everything you need to do. Not just 'Complete my unit 1 Part D'. Actually write something like - 1. create my question, 2. Research online for some more opinions, 3. Write/record my introduction, 4. Ask friends for their opinions, 5. Write/Record the rest, 6. Check all my linked websites, 7. Proof read, 8. Upload to artsawardvoice.com. Similarly when setting up your leadership projects - who is it you need to contact? List out each person that is of interest to you so you can tick them off as you contact them.
- Prioritise your tasks
- What's most important first? Is there something with an imminent deadline? Do you need to write that history essay before you compile your personal challenge evaluation? Is there any tasks that need to happen before you can do another task (i.e. Contact Bill at the venue to confirm your event date needs to be before creating/distributing invites or flyers.)
- Leave yourself enough time
- There is never enough time in the week. You might have a whole week off (oh the days of half term), but that suddenly disappears too. Try not to be that 'I'll do it tomorrow' person - because things always crop up, another priority happens, sending a few emails might take longer than you thought if you discover you haven't got the information you needed to start with. Try not to just assume someone's response in an email has all the info you asked for - double check it when you receive it, even if you're not going to action it for another few hours or days.
- Have 'down time'
- It's also important to plan in 'down time'. Time for yourself and to relax. Don't get home from school at 5pm say and spend another 4 hours on writing things up. Watch TV, have your dinner, enjoy a good book, go out for a walk. Whatever you do to relax - it's important. Something I learnt from a TV interview one day a while back was an interview with an actor. Not sure which one. But the interviewer asked how they do it all - they were out promoting a film, but also appearing 8 shows a week in a London play amongst other things. The secret to not going spare? The actor said I make sure I have at least 1 day off a week. Avoiding a 7 day week. I've tried to live by this ever since. OK I probably do emails and little things 7 days a week, but I just accept that this or that isn't going to get written now til Monday - taking the day to avoid going on my laptop.
- Ask for help
- Never suffer in silence. It's always good to give something a good go, perhaps google for an answer, but otherwise you shouldn't struggle through. Just get in touch with a friend who may be able to help, ask your adviser if it's Arts Award related, or maybe even send in your question. If you're doing your Gold Arts Award you can check out the questions answered in our Gold Hub.
- Say no
- Sometimes you just can't take on that extra task. Try and get someone to take tasks on, say no to extra tasks and work within a team wherever you can so that someone else can give you support. It's an important part of leadership; co-ordinating people and delegating tasks. So make use of this for your Unit 2 Leadership project.
Want more stress busting tips specifically designed for people working busily away on projects? The Institute of Leadership and Management have created this Stress Buster guide with some key information. It's only a 1 pager. There's also many more guides online; maybe some herbal remedies and even more.
Remember though, if things are getting too much speak to your parents and/or a doctor. Doctor's aren't just there to help with the flu or 'physical' ailments. They can be an excellent listening ear and they've got access to a whole range more of support. They can help work with you to pick-up the support you need. It's always confidential, so never fear. Coping with stress is an important fact of life. Many people see their doctor for help, there is nothing wrong with it and dealing with stress is better than letting it fester.
So now I hope you're a bit more prepared to face your better lifestyle. Do embrace life and take on the challenges that you will enjoy. Gold Arts Award is a rewarding experience and if you have the opportunity to tackle one, I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Got any questions or experiences to share? I'd love to read about your thoughts in the comments section below.