Undergraduate student ambassador Soraya shares her top tips on how to effectively balance the university lifestyle and talks through the benefits of planning ahead.
Finding a good balance between your studies and well-being whilst at university can be quite challenging. There is no right or wrong way to do it, it’s quite a personal process. It’s really important to find this equilibrium as it’ll allow you to have time for yourself and avoid burnout. Learning this skill now will make it easier for you when you’ll have a full-time job and your personal life to balance after graduation.
In this blog, I will share my top 5 tips and tricks for finding this work-life harmony at university. Most of my tips revolve around two key skills - planning and time management. So plan, plan, plan away my friends!
Plan your weeks and days
Planning your days and weeks is essential to finding the right work-life balance. First, create a list of what you need to get done during this week. Once you have your to-do list for the week, divide the tasks over different days, but don’t overdo it! Be mindful of the number of tasks and work you can get done in one day. I would suggest alternating days with many tasks and days with fewer. That way, if you have too much on your plate on Monday for instance and you can’t achieve your set goals, you’re able to postpone some tasks to the next day without overloading them. Now as to when to plan your week and days, I personally either do it on a Sunday evening before or on Monday morning.
I find it motivating to have a clear set of goals for the week and cross off tasks as you go. However, it can get quite daunting and stressful especially if you feel behind schedule. Again, that is why planning according to your abilities is very important. Additionally, prioritising tasks due soon or more important is a good way to ensure you stay on track.
Plan your physical activity
Just like planning your work for the week, I found that planning any physical activity is a great way to create a routine you want to stick to. Whether it is going to the gym, running, climbing, hiking or dancing, putting these on your schedule with set times can help you structure your week. When exercising, I feel like you can easily lose track of time which could derail your routine and study plans. It might just be me but I think having a well-structured routine and schedule can be extremely helpful to find the right balance. For instance, I have ‘gym days’ and ‘cheerleading’ days – as they’re my two main physical activities – where I know I will do less work because I have planned 1 to 2 hours of sports on that day.
Make a weekly meal plan
Planning your meals ensures you eat well and enough which is incredibly important for both your mental and physical health. Additionally, food shopping with a list limits your spending and food waste as you shop to cook rather than shop for potential meals. With meal planning, you also save money by avoiding impulsive takeouts or fast food just because you don’t know what to eat or to make.
I would suggest having a variety of meals so you don’t get bored quickly and can keep up with your plan. When planning your meals for the week, I would advise having one or two days off so you can eat out or order a delivery so you don’t have to cook 7 days a week. Finally, if you have dinner sorted, you’re able to go to sleep at roughly the same time every night, ensuring you sleep well and enough.
Have days off and spend time with people you love
Take some time for yourself! After all, the university isn’t just about studying and getting things done. It is okay to take days off and not be productive on certain days. As a student, we tend to forget to rest because of the amount of work we need to do. However, resting is just as important as working, if not more.
Value your resting time, go on walks, read, sleep, or just do something you enjoy! In the same way, socialising and spending time with the people you care about are just as important for your well-being as exercising. This can easily be done by having a pizza night with your friends, going out to a restaurant or with your flatmates.
If you would like more advice regarding balancing your university lifestyle or would like to read more about the well-being resources available at Warwick please see here.