After having a few DM’s asking me this exact question, and how I manage my time at uni, I thought it was worthy to have a whole blog post on finding work life balance whilst at university, and how to generally manage your time more effectively in term time. I think a lot of people (me included) find getting a work/life balance difficult, and I have a tendency to lock myself down in all work and no play, which I’m definitely working on this year.
University is a weird one. In every other education that I have had it has been almost a marathon and a constant stream of work. University is different in the sense that although there is still a stream of work throughout semester time, it is heavily concentrated towards ‘deadline season’ and a huge sprint at the end. Therefore towards the beginning of the semester you can afford to get away with having a balance towards play, as long as the end of the semester you are definitely focusing 90% on work. I think most of you already know this by now but as a bit of a disclaimer. I actually commute to uniso my experience isn’t identical to the ’typical’, however I did live at uni the first year and spend a lot of my time in uni houses now… so I think I can still provide an accurate representation, and some good advice.
The photos in this post were taken by the lovely Ami Ford Photo.
Look into a part time job.
I bet you didn’t think adding more work to your life would be my top tip for finding work life balance at uni. But hear me out. I know plenty of students (especially humanities students) with low contact hours, who end up with very little motivation as they are maybe only in university 8 hours a week. Getting a part time job around your studies is such a good way to get yourself out of bed, do something productive and earn some extra money whilst doing it… even if its just one day a week. Plus if you have had a productive day at work, you are more likely to come home and actually stay productive, because you are up and feeling motivated.
Go into uni and stay there.
This is something that I am trying to do more and more this year, and I definitely think it is helping me when finding work life balance whilst at uni. I have a very small timetable so when I am actually travelling into uni, I try and stay there the majority of the day and get things done. I often go to the library and try and complete as much of my to do list as I can, so that when I come home my life is back, and I don’t have to think as much about work. I have mentioned this in a blog post before, but I also utilise my train travel as much as I can by working on the train, so that by the time I have even arrived at uni on a morning I have already done 1 hour of work. It gets your day off to a very productive start!
Plan something social once a week.
Like I said at the beginning of this post, I do tend to prioritise work over being social, which I am trying to work on. Something that I have been trying to do recently is have at least one social plan a week that I can look forward too. For instance, a day out with my nan, a night out or a nice meal out with my boyfriend. Having something planned at least once a week is a good way to ensure that you are having more balance, as finding work/life balance whilst at uni can be hard.
I think this can also work the other way. If you life in a student house and find it easy to be distracted and do very little work, you could flip this tip. So for example you could set 3 evenings a week where you are going to go to the library and not do anything social… and then stick to it! Having that structure should help you to focus on certain tasks and not end the week having done no studying, or no social plans.
Dont set a timetable for the day.
I have never really set an hour by hour timetable at any point in my life, because I am definitely more of a to-do list gal. However this is certainly more important when finding your work life balance at uni, because a timetable will only make you feel guilty. For instance, a few weeks ago I had this full plan of working all evening, and it ended up with me sat on the stairs with the girls talking for 2 hours. If I had a hour by hour plan I would have felt so guilty, but because I had a general plan but not intense structure, I didn’t feel as bad. I think making a to do list is a good idea, but then leaving the day open to end up however it ends up, because ultimately university is always spontaneous and nothing is ever planned.
Dont leave things until the last minute.
Despite it being tempting, finding work life balance whilst at uni involves actually structuring your time. I know so many students that leave things until the last minute, and I would recommend not doing this because you end up causing yourself so much more stress than if you just structured your time in a good way. Try and leave at least a week or two before a big essay deadline, as doing an hour or two a day is much better than cramming 12 hours in the day before the deadline. If you actually plan your time in advance you will have plenty of time to have time for socialising too, because you aren’t trying to do 2 weeks worth of work in 2 days.
I hope that these tips helps when finding work life balance at uni, especially if you struggled with doing this last semester. Making simple changes, planning in opportunities to study and socialise and trying to stay on top of everything are the most useful but please let me know if you have any tips! Like I said earlier on in this post, I am certainly not perfect at maintaining the perfect balance, so your advice would be useful to me too. Thank you so much for reading!