Time management tips: 6 ways to juggle work, rest and play

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Time management tips: 6 ways to juggle work, rest and play

Studying is hard. It’s fine to admit this. As a student, you are under a lot of pressure to achieve high grades in order to gain qualifications that will further your career, not to mention justify the amount you’ve invested in course fees.

The key to success at university is to maintain a healthy balance between the amount of time spent studying, socialising and resting. Over- or under-indulging in any of these is not a good thing, so make sure you devote a reasonable amount of time to each of them. Here are a few tips to ensure you can manage your workload, enjoy your spare time and still allow time to recharge your batteries.

Be realistic

 Don’t be a hero. One of the worst things you can do is set yourself unrealistic goals. If you aim for something that isn’t sensible, such as completing an entire essay in one evening, it’s likely that you’ll fail and this will only make you feel worse.

Planning ahead will help. Make a list of all your tasks and put a deadline next to each one. You should have plenty of time to create a feasible action plan, meaning you won’t have to rush through important pieces of work as deadlines loom.

Most importantly, don’t force yourself to study. If you’re not in the mood, have a break and come back to it later. You simply won’t produce your best work if you’re punishing yourself, so there is nothing to be gained from this approach.

Stop procrastinating

 Now, we know this is much easier said than done. However, it’s important you make the distinction between ‘having a break’ and ‘wasting time’.

If you’re ready to work, or a deadline is close, it’s time to get rid of distractions and put the hours in. A good tip is to start working as soon as you sit at your desk. A quick check of your social media accounts can quickly snowball into an entire wasted evening, so it’s best to avoid it entirely.

Your phone is not your friend in this scenario. You can easily be distracted by calls and messages, so as shocking as it sounds, it might be an idea to turn it off if you really want to focus. You should also close any tabs in your browser that aren’t directly related to the task at hand.

Reward yourself

The best way to stop yourself getting distracted and ensure you hit your targets is actually to factor your social life into your studies.

Arrange to meet with friends at designated times during the week. This will give you something to look forward to, and you’ll be more likely to power through that last hour of writing if you know you’ve got an enjoyable evening planned at the end of it.

You certainly shouldn’t deprive yourself of the things you enjoy just because you’re working hard. Be sure to reward yourself every now and then while you study. It could be something as simple as a cup of tea and a sandwich, or you might treat yourself by watching an episode of your favourite TV show or going for a run. Anything that breaks the time up will help you in the long term.

Sleep well

We all know that sleep and students typically have a strange relationship. Everyone has heard the old clichés about students staying up all night and then sleeping in until lunchtime.

While it’s obviously fine to party long into the night every now and then, studying all night is not advisable. There’s no chance you’ll be doing your best work if you’re tired, so while it might feel heroic at the time, it’s just not a good strategy. Put simply, if you’re in a position where working all night to meet a deadline is necessary, you probably need to manage your time a little better.

It also means that you’re more likely to waste the morning. You might miss lectures as a result, or find yourself rushing around, both of which could potentially increase your stress levels. And think about it, the morning is actually the ideal time to study. Most of the exciting social events you’re being invited to are probably happening in the evening, so if you get the studying done nice and early, you can head out later without feeling guilty.

Get comfortable

If you need to study without distractions, your choice of location could prove a key factor. You should think about this when choosing your accommodation.

For example, are you someone who is easily distracted? Then choosing a studio room rather than accommodation with a shared living area will make it harder for you to get drawn into what your housemates are up to. On the other hand, if you’re one of those lucky people who finds studying in a group helpful, a welcoming shared space might be just what you need.

Your bedroom should be somewhere you can study in peace and comfort, but sometimes a change of scene can be nice. Where you go is all down to personal preference. Some head for the university library, while for others a quiet local cafe does the job.

Suit yourself

When it comes to managing your time, you should do whatever you feel most comfortable with. Don’t worry about what other people say about how much they’ve been studying, or how many nights they’ve been out this week. When it comes to completing university assignments, some people prefer to finish things weeks in advance. Others work better with the pressure of a deadline, and this is fine too. As long as you leave a reasonable amount of time to finish the work to the required standard, whatever method you choose is fine.

Do remember to factor in time for life’s little inconveniences though. The last thing you want is for your internet connection to go down ten minutes before your carefully crafted assignment is due in your lecturer’s inbox, so consider sending it the night before just to be safe.