With less than a month until we head back to uni, now is the perfect time to begin thinking about our study-life balance. Ever since primary school people have been telling us to find balance in our lives. So much so that it almost seems like an unachievable goal and a bit of a buzzword. However, for most students, learning to find balance in life is essential for succeeding at university.
So, how can you achieve a healthy life balance this trimester?
Now is the perfect time to start organising your trimester. Find a calendar system that works well for you. Whether this is an online diary or the ‘old-fashioned’ written planners, having a planner is essential. Once you have your diary, start plotting any important dates – assignments, lectures, tutorials, work dates, family events etc. Once the trimester begins this will turn into a more intense calendar. Try to spend an hour or two planning out your week on a Sunday afternoon or Monday morning. Figure out your weekly goals and commitments and plot them in. Then you can work in your study and leisure time around them.
Finding a healthy study-life balance doesn’t necessarily mean giving an equal percentage of time to everything you need to do. Spend a little bit of time thinking about what is most important to you. This is something that can change slightly each week but will generally be quite consistent. Weigh the importance of that night out partying against finishing an assignment, or spending time with friends against spending hours scrolling on your phone. Initially it may be difficult, but as time goes on you will begin to find your groove in prioritising your time and achieving weekly goals.
Schedule in your free time
This one might sound a little odd, but scheduling in your free time is an excellent way to help you achieve a good balance between study, work and free time. Scheduling in your free time makes you much more likely to use it effectively rather than wasting it. Just say you wake up at 7am and go to bed at 10pm, if you spend an average of eight hours studying, that leaves you with seven whole hours for other things.
When you don’t think about how you’re going to spend that time it can very easily be wasted. If you take the time to schedule in things like your morning workout, an afternoon coffee break, an evening walk with your dog or time to read a new book, you will be simply amazed at how much you can achieve in one day when you schedule your free time.
Perfect your time management skills
While it’s a great start to organise and prioritise your time, if you’re not using that time effectively you may never strike a healthy and happy life balance. One of the best ways to start out learning time management skills is to focus on one thing at a time. For example, if you have planned to work on an essay all day, set aside a time block where your entire focus is just on that essay.
During this time don’t allow yourself to go on social media, be distracted by the internet, get food or anything else. Then at the end of each time block schedule in a 10-15 minute break to do all the things you wanted to do during the study time. This is a great method, because not only do you work more efficiently, but you are also less tempted by distractions when you know time is set aside for them later.
As the trimester goes on it will become harder to stay focused and engaged while studying. However, if you get started now and begin laying the groundwork early on, then you should be organised and on top of things from the get-go. By not leaving assignments and exam study to the last minute, you will be much less stressed and more likely to find the motivation to keep going until that very last exam.
Achieving a good study-life balance may not come easily but can be achieved with a little hard work and persistence. If you put in the effort now you will soon find that you begin succeeding at your goals instead of just surviving through another trimester.
What are your best tips for keeping a healthy study-life balance? Share them with us below.
Until next time – Hayley