There are three primary aspects to student life: work, play and sleep. However, there is a misconception that we can only have two of these at a time, meaning for example that if you have good grades and a good social life, you won’t get enough sleep and vice versa.
Students, particularly in their final year, find themselves questioning whether they are spreading themselves too thin by having lots going on. I know several students like myself, who juggle their degree with part time jobs, extracurricular activities and voluntary positions. Sure we get stressed from time to time, but being busy can also be beneficial. There are three things, in my opinion, that can help us achieve a balanced and healthy relationship between these different day to day aspects of our lives.
Firstly, time management is imperative. Why not draw up a seven day timetable where you can put down where you need to be and what you are doing each day? The first thing that should go on this is your academic timetable. Then if you have a job or society commitments you can easily see when you are available. Remember be realistic about the amount of time that you need to complete a task. If you are working a six hour shift on Saturday, have you factored in travel time? What about dinner? It is surprising how time consuming cooking and eating is.
Once all of your schedule is down on paper, you will know how busy you are going to be and can then fill up the blanks with study sessions and free time as you see fit. Don’t forget to think about what time of day works best for you with regard to revision and essay writing. If you are going to work in the afternoon, perhaps you should get up a little earlier to do a couple of hours instead of trying to get it done after your shift, when you are likely to be tired.
Secondly, the more organised you are, the more productive you’ll be. I find that writing a list of what needs to be done the following day helps me to visualise my objectives. Everything goes down on my list, from ‘do laundry’ to ‘write a first draft of my mid term essay’. There is a nice sense of achievement and satisfaction to be had from ticking off all of the things on your list. Again, be realistic. There is a danger of overloading yourself with tasks. Choose three to five things depending on how big the tasks are. Alongside the list, make sure you prepare anything you need ready for the next day. Simple tasks like packing all of the books you need for your library stint or even laying your clothes out for the next day saves time in the morning so you can just get up and get on with it.
Lastly, a successful person knows their limits. Don’t be afraid to say that something is too much for you. At the end of the day, you’re not a machine. You need some time to unwind and relax. Taking too much on can put you under pressure and cause prolonged stress. Remember, your health and well-being is the most important thing.