Part 1: Planning
Like many of us, one of the greatest dilemmas a student faces throughout their academic career is tackling the work-life balance. Getting all your work done, fitting in all your extra curricular’s and having time to relax and enjoy yourself.
There is a joke amongst university students that uni is like a triangle, at one end is socialising/ having fun, at another end is studying and at the other end is sleep, the downfall is you must sacrifice one as no one can achieve all three (most people sacrifice sleep, some its study…).
As amusing as it is, those who believe in the ‘triangle of sacrifice’ are wrong. You can achieve a social life, be on top of your studies and get enough sleep to make an early morning class. You just need good time management matched with some organisation.
To make it easier for you to start on your journey to great efficiency, i have created a little step by step to help you along the way.
Firstly you need to learn to plan. I am not saying you have to religiously plan out every second of your day, seven days a week, 365 days of the year, but you need to record key events happening each week so you don’t have to keep them in your mind all the time. This ensures you are less likely to forget it happening, leaving more room in your mind for other things. A good idea would be to get a weekly planner so that you can see everything happening on one page. I would personally recommend the Moleskine weekly planner (£18.00), its durable, easy to use, light to carry and beautifully simple. Alternatively, another favourite of mine is the Muji weekly planner, effortlessly chic yet very practical. A planner is also a great place to jot down thoughts, idea, reminders, anything that you are likely to forget!
Once you have got the hang of using a weekly planner to take down all your weekly events, such a sport times, lectures, meeting friends. You can start to add in study topics. For me, I find it less stressful to assign myself to a specific time e.g. I would never write “Integration practice at 10am”. Some people may find this helpful and if so then by all means continue! But I found that put myself under too much pressure, so I resolved to say “study integration for an hour”. This means that you are not restrained, for example if something pops up in the morning when you had planned to study, you can just move your time of study later in the day and not feel guilty that you did not achieve your task at the set time.
Now you have a solid weekly planner, you have everything you need written in. You just have to keep this up. A trick is to make it a habit. Before you go to bed spend some time planning the next day. Then once a week (I do this on a Sunday evening), plan the coming week and how you are going to tackle the study you have been assigned, the extra curricular and the fun things you want to do.
As well as using a weekly planner, another way to help plan your day is to regulate basic activities such as eating and sleeping. What I mean by this is you create a routine that your body can work to. For example, you go to bed and wake up at a similar time each day. This helps our body get into a sleeping pattern and makes it easier for you to start the day and end the day well. Also planning when you are going to eat your meals gives you markers throughout the day to aim for and plan around. For me, I wake up at 7:00am and make sure I have eaten breakfast by 7:30am. This gives me half an hour to get ready, so that I can leave or university by 8:00am. I have dinner around 7:00pm everyday as this gives me time to go to the gym once I’m home from university. Using meal time and wake up/ bed time as markers always you to break up your day into sections, making it easier to manage time as its cut into smaller chunks.
I hope you have enjoyed the first part of my series on time management for students.
In the next article I shall be addressing how to keep on top of your revision from the beginning of the year through to exam season.