Imagine it’s mid-semester, your assignments are piling up, your exams are looming, your boss has asked you to pick up extra shift this week AND your best friend needs help setting up for the epic party they’re hosting on the weekend. Too much to do and seemingly too little time… sound familiar?
Striking a healthy balance between uni, work and life can be difficult. Struggling to establish a healthy routine, balancing your responsibilities to suit your lifestyle, can lead to stress, anxiety, burn-out and more. While it’s easy to become completely overwhelmed at times, it is possible to find the right balance.
Here’s some practical tips to help you tick your ‘to do’ boxes:
- Know when and where you’re most productive – what time of day suits you best? Are you a morning person, a night owl, or somewhere in the middle? Do you prefer to study on your own where it’s quiet, or are you more productive in a social setting, such as the Library?
It’s important to understand what your ideal work environment looks like, so you can be your most effective and not be easily distracted by your environment. If you’re unsure where you’re most productive, try out a few different settings. Did you feel focused and energised? Did you complete what you wanted to? Reflect on what worked to help you focus and what distracted you.
- Plan your week – whether it’s in a shiny new diary or on your phone, planning your week will help you prioritise your time and avoid falling into the procrastination trap. You can map out how you’ll spend your time by first doing a stock-take on what commitments you have that are locked in, such as work or classes, and shading those times in your calendar.
This should be followed by urgent tasks, such as studying for that mid-semester test happening mid-week or typing up your investigation findings. Dedicating time slots for your urgent items will ensure they take priority over less urgent things, and also provide you with an overview of when you’re free to catch-up for that coffee date or to hit the beach.
When planning your week, try to be as precise as possible – allocate specific goals and timeframes to tasks aligned with when and where you’re most productive. Having a ‘to do’ list each day can help keep you motivated. Ticking off completed items on your list? Winning!
- Set aside some personal time – don’t keep putting things you love doing on the back burner because you feel you’re too busy with study and work. Taking time for yourself is important, so don’t feel guilty about going on your coffee date or heading to the beach. These activities may be the very thing you need to nurture your creativity, refresh yourself and motivate you to persevere with completing your to-do list.
- Keep moving – fitting some kind of exercise into your week also has its benefits, not just for your physical well-being but also your mental health. Do what works for you, whether it be a leisurely stroll, practicing yoga, hitting the gym or anything at all that gets your body moving. As little as 30 minutes of activity a day will do the trick!
- Don’t mix work and play – once you have a plan in place, it’s important to stick to it. If you’ve allocated an hour to studying, turn off your phone and remove all distractions.
Likewise, if you’ve set aside an afternoon with friends, try to switch off from uni completely – don’t become preoccupied with replying to your hyper-vigilant classmate about an upcoming group assignment – this is ‘you’ time.