University life is a balancing act, isn’t it? Being a student is a mix of continuing the hard work that got you there in the first place, and having fun in your exciting new surroundings.
Nobody wants to put their social life completely on hold for years, and yet the importance of the academic aspect of this experience also cannot be underestimated.
The fact is, it is possible to enjoy yourself with new friends without the work suffering. One word is key to this success: Organisation. Yes, it is a word that either fills us with dread or provokes a massive yawn, but at the end of the day, if you get a handle on your study/life balance from Day One, you can thrive at university and make the most of your spare time, guilt-free!
Everyone finds their own winning formula, and tweaks it to fit in with their unique set of circumstances, but here are three handy tips to get the ball rolling:
MAP IT OUT
It might sound like a chore at first, but if you have a flick through your diary or calendar and plan out the month ahead, you can handpick dates that look good for a quiet couple of hours of revision, and conversely, determine which nights are likely to involve fun nights out.
Earmarking some study time and committing to it in ink instantly makes you feel in control of your own destiny, and is also likely to make you more inclined to honour the deal you have just made with yourself. You soon get into a routine. Those fun nights out will be significantly more relaxing if you head out safe in the knowledge that your studies are on track.
If you can do your work while you are feeling fresh, it is half the battle won.
It is no great secret that our creativity levels and capacity for producing our best output is much greater when we are at our most alert.
Embarking on some important revision or coursework can seem like an impossible task if tiredness has kicked in.
When you are feeling stressed about upcoming exams or coursework this can lead to an inadequate amount of sleep and the sleep that you do get can be very low quality.
Putting up some extra thick curtains to deaden sound and make your room darker will help improve the quality of your sleep meaning that you will be feeling fresher and are able to concentrate for longer when you start studying.
Also try to set aside parts of the day when you are most likely to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed specifically for study.
This is where being flexible and tweaking the plan is important. Circumstances change at short notice and plans sometimes need to be altered – rather than being disheartened or feeling like your schedule is unrealistic, simply commit to another time if other plans get in the way. This keeps the momentum going.
If you prefer to operate solo, that’s your call. However, if you live with a few friends in your student accommodation, it’s not a bad idea for a few of you to do your university bits at the same time. Straight away, this makes for a quieter environment in which to study. If you all start and finish the process at the same time, you can reward yourselves with a well-earned trip to the pub afterwards.
The reward element is a factor that should not be overlooked. If you can, as a group, manage to find a couple of hours to crack on with your work, it is psychologically easier to do so if there is something enjoyable to look forward to when that time has passed. Studying together is also a great way to help each other out and strengthen friendships. You’re all in the same boat!