By Ebony-Jay Thurland
Starting university can be daunting for many people, especially when, for many people, it’s the first time in their lives where they are totally responsible for everything in their life. Part of this is could be learning to balance the workload which comes with university study, student life and employment. Many students have part-time work whilst being a full-time student and this can be a really delicate balance to master when you have no idea what the workload and intensity is going to be like, and of course this varies from course to course and from person to person. On top of this, many students must go on placements or take part in a certain amount of volunteering, which means that it can be easy to get very, very busy, very, very quickly. Here, I am giving my best advice with regards to juggling your time and responsibilities when it comes to full-time study, work, life, and anything else that you may have going on.
1. Google Calendars
I personally use google calendars to schedule things quickly and for long term things. It’s very useful to log things which happen regularly, as you can schedule them to show in your calendar with the same details either daily, weekly, monthly etc. and you can also have a date which it stops, which I have found is useful to block out my lectures and university related, regular things, as this means that when I go to make an appointment, I can quickly look at my google calendar and book them around my prior commitments. It also means that when I’m out, away from my computer or planner, I can quickly put appointments or meetings in there and transfer them to other resources later.
This is one resource that I find to be so useful. How I personally do this, is each Friday I go to my timetable template, which I made myself on word with the ‘table’ function and I simply edit it to what the following week is going to look like. I then print it out and put it on my desk so I can see it and it reminds me of what I must do that day. Another way of doing this is by making a timetable on word or by drawing it, dividing it up into half hourly slots, leaving it empty, except the day and times and then printing and laminating it so you can use a whiteboard pen to add in and edit what you are doing that week. This could be a better option for people who maybe don’t want to print it out each week, however you could also save the timetable as a PDF or image, then save it as your background on your computer, if that would work better for you.
The key to ensuring that you have the correct work to life balance when you’re at university is setting your priorities straight. This varies from person to person, depending on what your goals are. You need to think about if you need to be earning more money, and therefore work more hours to fund your way through university? Or do you need as much time as possible to focus on your studies? Is having a good mix of work, volunteering, good grades and extra curriculars important to you? Whatever it is that’s important, you need to make sure you are putting what is the most important, first. For myself, university work comes above anything else and nothing takes priority, apart from my health. My paid work and voluntary work, for me, are both as important as each other because I use both for my development and improvement of my CV. Therefore, balancing the right amount of time between them all is very important to me, and it is crucial to have a think about what your priorities are and how they will fit in with your lifestyle and goals before you commit to them.