Holly Phillips, Law LLB, Year 1
Starting university, or just university in general can be very overwhelming. It can be very difficult. You are juggling a degree, having a social life, maintaining relationships, societies, seeing family, part time jobs, extra curricular activities and more. There will be times where you struggle. There will be times where you feel overwhelmed. There will be times where you feel so incredibly burned out. It is NORMAL.
This blog post will hopefully give you some insight into how to manage your time efficiently and how to maintain a healthy, balanced life at university. Feeling down isn’t unavoidable but you can reduce stress using these tips.
Calendars and To-Do Lists
This may sound like the most basic piece of advice ever, but I can guarantee it is the most effective. Uni life can be a lot sometimes, a lot of things are happening and it will be easy to forget you have a lecture or that you are seeing a friend for coffee or that you have cheer practice.
If you get everything out of your brain and on a piece of paper or on our phone or laptop, you WILL feel a lot less stressed and organised. I would recommend putting all your plans on a calendar, such as Google Calendar, and setting reminders to ensure you don’t miss any plans, whether that be a lecture or a seminar or something social!
Making to-do lists will also help to avoid stress. You might be thinking ‘I have so much to do tomorrow’. Well, make a list, and you probably have less to do than you thought. There are many other methods that you may wish to try but as long as you are staying organised, it helps you be more time efficient and will lower your stress levels.
With all of your plans at university, you need to be realistic. You need to learn your boundaries, not take on too much and learn to say no to some things. Obviously don’t miss lectures, tutorials or anything related to your degree. However, if you do feel overwhelmed with your degree, you can seek help. What I mean is, allow yourself to have some down time, some time alone, some rest. Schedule it in! Pencil in some time on your calendar just to chill! It is probably a good idea to dedicate two days a week where you have no uni work, no part time work and just use it to socialise or to have some alone time.
Don’t take on too much, especially during term times. You will be spending a lot of your time doing work for your degree and also a lot of time socialising. Remember though, it probably isn’t the best idea to be going out EVERY night until 4am in the morning. Remember, it’s okay to say no to plans.
It is also not a great idea to join too many societies or take on too many extracurricular activities all at once. Doing one extra curricular activity that may benefit your degree and a sport would be more than enough to fill up your term time timetable. If you have a job, try not to take on too many hours.
Don’t overdo it. Remember, you have to save time to do your food shopping, cook your meals and wash your clothes too!
Making the Most of Non Term Time
To balance your time a bit better, make the most of non term time, like the summer holidays. If you want to get a job to earn a bit of extra money, maybe get a job over the summer - after all, you do have a good few months to fill!. If you want to get ahead of the game and do some extra reading, do it in the summer. If you want to focus on seeing family, go home for the summer! The summer is the perfect time to get some work experience, internships, volunteering, all things that would look great on your CV. Don’t juggle them alongside your studies and make your life more difficult, save them until the summer to help you keep busy!
The summer break is the perfect time to do anything you would like to do whilst you’re transitioning from one year of university to the other.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help
There will be a time where you will need to ask for help. That is okay. You may have to ask for extended deadlines, ask for help from your friends, for some time off work. This is completely normal. No one is expecting you to sail through university with no struggles. You will not be alone and there will be people to help you with any problems, no matter how big or small! You can find out where to find help on the university website, talk to your personal tutors or seek help from friends or family.
University is a big life change. It is where you really do become independent and in control of your own life. Take on these tips and I can guarantee it will be a smoother journey for you. Plan your time well and make sure you stay organised. Good luck!