By Rebecca Hodson
These are meant to be the best years of our lives, our golden days, but how can we make the most of our time while we are being suffocated by assignments and compulsory readings? We are told by our parents what they were up to at our age and how we really should be getting out there seeing the world not sitting in the our rooms crying at the price of stationary. Yet, we full well know if we became the social animals they claim they once were we would have an earful about wasting money and our very expensive education. It seems we just can’t win.
Now, I’m not saying I have cracked the code myself, but I do give it my best shot. Everything in my life revolves around a plan, call it organised or call it obsessive, but from the order I eat my lunch to how I write an essay, a plan will be in place. While I definitely do not recommend micromanaging every aspect of your life, writing out your weekly timetable lets you visualise when you have free time. Planning around ‘me time’ is one of my biggest recommendations to stay on top of mental wellbeing. Knowing you have a section of time dedicated to yourself gives you a desirable goal to aim towards with your work, rather than another assessment.
It’s not just me time that need to be considered, but maintaining healthy relationships. Making sure you have time to check in on your friends and family can often use a two birds one stone approach by meeting for food, calling them while you walk to university, or planning weekly food shops together. Similarly with dating, going on walks to make sure you stay healthy, revising together, or testing out new recipes, are all good options to ensure your time together is productive for both of you.
Now, I would have to be a complete idealist if I didn’t consider how to balance academic work and play along with having a job. Lots of student jobs allow you to have zero hour contracts, which allow you to cut down your working hours when academic work picks up. Being clear with your boss about other commitments creates a better working relationship, where expectations are realistic and when academic pressure picks up, work stress have remain low.
Most importantly don’t expect your life to always be balanced, sometimes our schedules need more focus on work than play and vice versa; but either way, make sure you find time, no matter how small, for both.