Keeping life balanced
Balance in our lives is maintained by friends, leisure, family, exercise, hobbies, fun, rest and play. Although it seems counter-intuitive, ensuring you make time for these activities actually increases your chances of study success. Prioritising your time around your various interests and responsibilities helps to focus your study time, and can be a refreshing reward for hard work. Creating balance in your life also ensures that you stay healthy, and cope better during times of stress.
Being a student can feel overwhelming – besides your commitment to your study, you may also have family or social commitments, work commitments and hobbies you pursue each week. How can you help lessen the confusion of what to do when there is so much to be done? A proven technique is to acknowledge all you need to do, and then prioritise which should be done now, later, or never.
Kevin has a lot he wants to do today: can you help him sort it out?
Notice that many of the factors Kevin considers to help him prioritise are concerned with
- Time: how long will it take? When do I need to do it by? When did it last happen?
- Risk: what will happen if I don’t do this?
- Context: who else is involved? What will it cost me?
Sometimes you might also consider the reward: how good do you feel after you make progress on an assignment, or go to the gym? Sorting your list according to what must be done today, what might get done today depending on time, and what doesn’t really need to be done at all will help you create more realistic to-do lists, and help you plan your time over the week more effectively.
There is a lot more happening on a uni campus than just tutorials and lectures. In some ways, a uni campus is like a small town, with many of the basic services you would expect to find on a town’s main street, like
- a newsagent,
- a doctor
- places to eat
- a bar
- an atm
- a post box
- a gym
Campuses with student residences may also have a supermarket, a laundromat, travel agents and a bank. Having these services available on campus helps students to help manage day-to-day priorities without having to travel : this means students can use their time between classes more effectively. You may also be fortune to have a job on, or around campus which also makes life easier. There are also services for specific types of assistance: counselling, welfare, disability, careers, accommodation and so on. Try searching on the website of a nearby uni for these services.
All unis have a student run organisation that looks out for student’s rights and welfare, and advocates for students during times of difficulty. This is often called the student guild, union or organisation. They also organise social events and help administer clubs around various interests: social justice, hobbies, politics, sports, religion, different cultures and faculty based pursuits. Becoming involved in these clubs is a good way of meeting people at uni and maintaining interests outside of your study. These clubs offer a unique opportunity for personal development and widening of experience that is quite unlike the work environment experienced after graduation. Prospective employers look upon involvement in these groups favourably.
Dealing with challenges
Beginning your time as a student is challenging because for most students, it means dealing with a significant amount of change. While everyone reacts to this time differently, the following students have concerns that are common to many students.
Thinking back on how uni works, you may recall that the single most important thing to remember at uni is that there are many people who can help you – you just need to ask. Studywell is a great collection of resources to help you manage your study, and improve your academic skills. There are also resources on the QUT Counselling Services website to help you learn more about study issues such as perfectionism and procrastination, and a helpful collection of tools, quizzes and modules on staying calm, staying connected and feeling good can be found at The Desk.