Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

A Material Girl’s Guide to Surviving Deadline Season

The inspiration for this article is threefold. Firstly, my TikTok has been inundated with clips from Jonathan Bailey’s ‘What I Can’t Live Without’ interview for GQ. Watching Anthony Bridgerton gush over muesli has been the most unexpected remedy for my dissertation blues. Secondly, I have been bingeing Emma Chamberlain’s ‘Anything Goes’ podcast. In the ‘Good Habits’ episode, she talks about the value of investing in the everyday items you use, like having a coffee mug or socks that you love. The third and final domino in this chain is that, as I write this, I find myself in Portugal, trying to finish my dissertation, with only what I could squeeze into a cabin bag. Away from my home comforts, and with the Bridgerton version of ‘Material Girl’ on a loop in my head, I got to thinking about the things that I can’t live without. What are the everyday investments that I swear by?

Buying lots of small pleasures is more conducive to happiness than buying fewer bigger pleasures

In an attempt to redeem this so far chronically online intro, let me turn your attention to a game-changing article by Dunn et al., titled ‘If money doesn’t make you happy, you probably aren’t spending it right’. The article details eight principles for spending that have been shown to improve happiness. The third principle is that buying lots of small pleasures is more conducive to happiness than buying fewer bigger pleasures. The basis of this principle is that we ultimately adapt to life’s big pleasures. An expensive car or a fancy house ultimately just becomes your house, or your car. We quickly become accustomed to them, and turn our sights onto a bigger house or a bigger car. In contrast, small pleasures like a good coffee, or getting your nails done, are less likely to lose their charm. As Dunn et. al put it, “we may be better off devoting our finite financial resources to purchasing frequent doses of lovely things rather than infrequent doses of lovelier things.”


Of course, this principle assumes that an individual has a fair amount of disposable income with which to invest in pleasures at all, be they small or big. Given the current economic climate, and the vast increases to the cost of living that we are seeing globally, this may not be feasible for many households. However, if you find yourself in the fortunate position to have some disposable income (thank you Student Finance), and like me, are looking for ways to break up the monotony of deadline season, start thinking about those small pleasures, and everyday items that can bring you joy. So, from cheapest to most expensive, here are the products that are getting me through the deadline season.


Flavoured fizzy water

Coming in at somewhere between 50p and £3 (depending on if you get bottles or cans), there’s something about bubbles that helps me focus – like white noise for my mouth, I suppose. Another bonus is that at this price point, I can afford to buy a new bottle every couple of days. The walk to the shop is a sure-fire way to clear my head, and trying a new flavour each time I pop to the shop is an effortless way to add variety to the otherwise repetitive days.


A good mug/cup

This of course, can vary in price quite substantially. My two current favourites are a £3 mug from Wilkos and a multipack of tumblers from Starbucks that cost me £20 in 2020. The tumblers change colour when filled with an iced drink, which never fails to excite me, and drinking from these makes staying hydrated feel like a luxury activity, not a chore.

(Bonus items to elevate your drinking experience that much more include cute reusable straws and a fancy ice cube tray)


Gummy vitamins or effervescent tablets

This may seem a bit of a rogue one, and I’m sure I don’t need to lecture anyone on the importance of taking vitamins, but getting gummy ones, or the kind of tablet that fizzes into your drink makes taking them that much more fun. When I’m busy, the nutritional content of my diet definitely takes a hit. While I don’t always have the time or the mental capacity to fix that, feeling as though I’m looking after myself is really important. Taking my vitamins is a much easier way to feel like I’m looking after myself than trying to eat better or exercise more while I’m in the depths of revision and diss writing.


A picnic blanket

At £10 from Tiger, my picnic blanket is probably one of my favourite ever purchases, and it’s come in particularly handy while working on my dissertation. Spring is perfect for working outdoors in my opinion – the bugs haven’t quite made their way out of hiding, the sun isn’t bright enough to make your laptop unreadable, but it’s warm enough to sit outside in just a big jumper. Me and my picnic blanket have been on lots of working walks lately, and it’s much less depressing than being stuck at a desk all day.


Lumie alarm clock

Now this is definitely bordering on a large pleasure as far its price point is concerned, but it delivers a small amount of pleasure every day, so I would be remiss not to mention it. I received mine as a gift, but Lumie alarm clocks come in at somewhere between £50 and £200 depending on the model. Instead of waking you abruptly, the Lumie alarm clock slowly glows brighter as it approaches the time you have set. In imitating the sun rising, it wakes you up at a more natural stage in your sleep cycle and makes getting up a much less distressing affair. Without lectures, I for one find it very tricky to stick to a routine, but this really helps kick start my day.



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