The Balancing Act of University.

Both Jenny and I have been at university for three years and over time we have both struggled with the whole balancing act of studies and life. It’s really hard to remember that just because you’re working doesn’t mean that you ought to be working to the bone. You need to take the time for yourself, in order for you to be able to come back fresh each time. Neither of us are by any means experts, but I like to think that after these long years as a student (literally my entire existence I suppose) I have started to get a general idea of how to get some balance in my life.

Being a student is really tough. I’m going to be as straight as possible. Being a student, someone who studies day and night to better themselves in a tough world, is hard. Often, you will be tired, if not exhausted, and you will find that there are little opportunities to take time for yourself. Or well that’s how it seems on the surface. It doesn’t actually have to be like that. You can have good grades, health and a social life at university. These are a few things you can do to help manage your time and get yourself that perfect balance:


Do Not Take A Part Time Job:


Now I don’t want you to look at this subtitle and think, ‘but how can I afford to go out if I don’t earn it’. If you really desperately need to take that part time job, then I get that. Sometimes you really need that extra cash. But if you can survive without it, if you can get by without the extra money than you really should take the opportunity you have. You are only at university once in your life (for most) and living a university life style is an amazing experience. A student loan will more often than not cover most expenses at university including food and nights out. As long as you budget a little and make sure you aren’t spending £50 per weekly shop, you can make do. I highly suggest making the most of your time at university. Focus on your friends, your studies and most of all you. I see so many of my friends trying to balance daily life, university and a job only for them to feel the stress really quickly and for them to stop enjoying their time here. Instead focus on other things at university and spend your summer break with a summer job to earn your extra savings.


Get Plenty of Sleep:


I can’t tell you how important a good night sleep is. A lot of people here at university seem to believe that you need to sacrifice either sleep, your social life or your grades here at university and honestly, I don’t believe that’s true. It’s actually really easy to have all of that, but you just need to figure out the balance of it all. My biggest suggestion is to make sure you always get at least 7 hours of sleep. I like to aim for that 8 hours but that’s not always easy. Theoretically then you can go to bed at midnight, wake at 7 and get your hours in right? You always hear those stories of people going to bed at 4am to be up again for a 9am class, and it makes me cringe! I know for me that is nowhere near enough sleep for me, and a tired Hana is not a nice Hana. 

Sleep leads to better productivity, a more relaxed nature and general calmness. We all need such things in our life as a student. I always find that if you focus on sorting out one thing rather than ten, then everything is far more manageable.


Plan Your Week with A Weekly Goal:


I started doing this a couple of terms ago but, I wasn’t using it in the best possible way for my health. I would set my weekly goal or goals (the latter is okay too as long as there isn’t to many high-tier goals) and try to complete as many as quickly as possible; rather than taking it slowly and completing them to a high standard. When I finished them, I would then start on the next weeks rather than reward my completion. What I should have been doing was sitting and working towards my goal, knowing I have all week to work on it so completing it to a higher standard. Once the goal is complete for that week, then that’s it. The rest of the time is yours and yours alone. If you have an entire day to do nothing, no lectures, no work, then take it! Its rare. Go to the movies, go into town. Stay in bed all day and catch up on some much-needed rest. Do what you want. Then when the next week comes along, work on the next goal.


Have A Daily Goal And Then You’re Done:


This kind of goes with the last, but this semester I’m setting myself daily goals that work towards the weekly goal/s. These may be ‘write 1000 words’ or they may be ‘read x and make detailed notes for the essay’. Whatever these goals are, they need to be realistic, achievable and productive. Think of this as self-set homework due for the next day. Once they are done, your time is your own, just as it was when you were at school. 


Take Regular Breaks:


I don’t do this nearly enough, nor do I do this in the correct manner. Regular breaks promote productivity and really are needed to stop you getting stupidly bored with everything in front of you. But these breaks need to be controlled. 45 minutes’ worth of work does not deserve 45 minutes of YouTube. It results in 15 minutes or so of YouTube. I use this fantastic app on my phone called Forest which literally locks me out of my phone for the set time or it kills a tree. I find that my biggest distraction really is my phone with its alluring YouTube, Instagram and even worse… its games! See the key to a good balance is for when you’re working, to work productively. What is the point in ‘working’ for 4 hours and only getting maybe an hour of work done? Then when you’re done, really life can resume. You can go and catch up with friends, go out to a club or just chill in without the guilt or feeling that you should be at the library.


Rewards Exist Too:


Now I mentioned this a few times, but rewards work to help get that balance too. To want to work on something that maybe you’ve been working on for a really long time and have long gotten bored of (*cough*dissertation*cough*), it helps to say, “okay if I get 500 words of this done then I can watch an episode on Netflix”. I find that if I know that I can do something guilt free after working on something hard I feel far more comfortable. I feel like I’ve been productive despite the fact I’m watching Riverdale again. It sounds so silly, but it works. The idea of having something fun insight, knowing I just have to push through really makes me feel like I have a bit of a direction. 

Balance is hard in all aspects of life and half the time the minute you think you have it down, you realise how wrong you are. But I hope that my tips help a little. I’m still working on it and I may never totally get it, yet I may just get a little closer. Finally. Thank you so much for reading. If you want to find out more about my daily schedule check it out here.

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