People sat round a table studying

Balancing your studies as a new student

Starting university can be daunting for many people, especially when it’s the first time in their lives where they are totally responsible for everything in their life. It is important to learn to balance the workload which comes with university study, student life and employment. Many students have part-time work while being afull-time student and this can be a really delicate balance to master when you have no idea what the workload and intensity are going to be like.

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 regard to juggling your time and responsibilities when it comes to full-time study, work, life, and anything else that you may have going on.

Google Calendars

I personally use Google calendars to schedule things quickly and for long term things. It’s very useful to log things that happen regularly, as you can schedule them to show in your calendar with the same details either daily, weekly, monthly etc. You can also have a date which it stops, which I have found useful to block out my lectures and university-related regular things. It 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 and away from my computer or planner, I can quickly put appointments or meetings in there and transfer them to other resources later.

Woman in front of a laptop and two planners

Timetables

This is one resource that I find to be so useful. 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 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 and leaving it empty except for the day and times, 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. 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.

Prioritisation

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 – do you need to be earning more money and work more hours? 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 extracurriculars important to you? Whatever it is that’s important, you need to make sure you are putting 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 are both as important as each other because I use both for the 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.

For more advice, check out the Student Wellbeing self-help guide on getting organised! Remember, if you are struggling, you can contact Student Services for help and advice.

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