Staying on top of workload at University is a bit like washing up. You can wash a few dishes as you go not letting too many pile up at once or you can let it pile up for weeks and you’ll find mould growing on top of your leftover tuna pasta bake, Well not quite…
Similarly though none of your flatmates will want to say anything but might worry. Although University isn’t easy: how do you manage a degree, a social life, basic hygiene and household chores, hobbies, staying healthy, a relationship potentially?… I could go on. Here’s what you could and should do:
1) Prioritise Your Time
It’s so easy to do everything you are most excited about in your day first and then leave studying or household chores until late at night when you’d much rather be in bed than be sat up typing out your essay that’s due the next day. However, if you prioritise the important things first and aim to start working on your essay two weeks before it’s due then it’s actually much easier to finish on time and avoid any last minute midnight meltdowns. You could plan to do a few hours each day and schedule in those two or three hours at a time when you know you will be most productive. I always work better on a morning and aim to work between 10 and 12 as a minimum most days. I also try to go to the library when I can because I work better when I’m less distracted by things in my room, but find a study space that works for you. The same goes for laundry or food shopping try to stick to a schedule, I always do a weekly shop on a Saturday morning when I know I’ll have more time and an almost empty fridge.
2) Set an Alarm Every Day
Begin by waking up earlier, this will give you a lot more time in your day to be productive. I know as an arts student with fewer contact hours that it can be really easy to fall down a slippery slope of waking up at 12am and not starting work until 2. However, if you set an alarm for 9am and start working at 11am you have an extra 2 hours once you’ve finished studying to hang out with friends, go to the gym, or do whatever you choose to do with your free time.
3) Buy Some Funky Stationary
A lot of lecturers and tutors will tell you disapprovingly that buying gel pens to create pretty headings for your lecture notes won’t help you study. I disagree. Perhaps if you spend an hour creating a masterpiece and 5 minutes studying it won’t be very helpful, but a few different coloured pens, a highlighter for key words or phrases and some colourful post-it notes for key themes/ideas/formulae can be incredibly useful. Not only has colour been proven to be a great visual memory aid, a trip to buy some funky stationery suddenly makes studying way more exciting and boosts your motivation and productivity. You could also buy yourself a pretty notebook or diary to record with different colours what you want to study each day or what tasks you need to do. Create lists with your new stationery and tick each task off as you go.
4) Have an Incentive
It’s almost as important to plan in time off as it is to schedule your workload. It’s far too easy to crumble and burn if you don’t plan time off because you won’t have any incentive to work hard. What I try to do is keep at least a two hour slot free each day so that I can do something rewarding. For example, I might go for tea and cake with a friend, go on a run or go on a night out. That way I always have something to work towards and enjoy each day. Social time is really important for your wellbeing and you shouldn’t let it suffer at the peril of deadlines or exams. It will make you happy and keep you feeling good during more stressful times.