A guide to a balanced student life

Anna Robson gives us an insite into how to stay happy and healthy, with her tips on keeping a balanced lifestyle as a University student

Anna Robson
29th September 2020

You will most likely have been told by everyone you meet to 'take every opportunity' at university, to 'say yes' to everything as 'time will fly'. This is partially true, but it is also okay to say NO! You are not closing doors on opportunities or experiences; you are simply balancing your time well!

The transition from school or college to university can be quite tricky at the beginning. One of the biggest changes is how independent you need to be. Some people may find this easier than others, do not worry if takes you a little longer!

Independence at university consists of being accountable for your actions as an adult; studying for your degree; turning up to lectures and seminars; and making sure you maintain a healthy body and mind. My first top tip for this would be creating a priority list. For example; my first priority is my degree, my second priority is my mental wellbeing, my third priority is my athletics training, and my fourth priority is making time for my loved ones. From this, I will plan out my week, starting off with my first priority, then my second, etc. and colour code accordingly. This is an example of what my weekly planner looks like -

It is important to invest in a planner or calendar. You can find cheap diaries and planners at Wilko or WHSmiths, it does not have to be fancy! A diary or planner will help with structuring your week and creating To-Do lists. However, be careful with to-do lists, you are not a failure if you do not complete the entire list in one day!

A survey was done in 2019 revealing that 67% of students in the UK balance a part-time job alongside their studies.

You may need a part-time job whilst at university. A survey was done in 2019 revealing 67% of students in the UK balance a part-time job alongside their studies. If you do need a part-time job, you need to set boundaries with your employer from the beginning by not over-committing to shifts. A great option is to look into Newcastle’s Jobs OC (On Campus) scheme. With the university as your employer, they will be more flexible with shifts than a regular bar or shop or restaurant. Some students chose flexible work as a 'Club Promoter', but this will not guarantee a steady income. Be honest to yourself too, don't underestimate how much time university work may take!

Try downloading 'Pomodoro', 'Focus Keeper' or 'Flora' for some ultimate productivity!

Outside commitments such as sports clubs, part-time jobs, volunteering roles can take up a lot of time. My best tip for this would be to use your study time wisely by being actively productive. This then allows for less procrastination and means you can still do the things you love without putting your studies in danger. Try downloading 'Pomodoro', 'Focus Keeper' or 'Flora' for some ultimate productivity!

It is very important to know when exams and assessments are due. This information can easily be found in your module handbook and on Canvas. Keeping on top of this means you know how many weeks/months you have to work with. From here, it is a lot easier to balance your social life while ensuring you are leaving yourself enough time to complete your work. I do not want to sound like your lecturer but PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ESSAY TO THE NIGHT BEFORE! Yes, going out and having a great time is extremely important at university, but it is not worth failing a module.

Anna Robson recreates how she plans her weeks as a student.

Freshers this year is going to look a lot different for you lot, but it is still important to look after your mental and physical wellbeing by making sure you set aside some “me time” and to do some sort of physical activity too!

“Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” -Lou Holtz

Feature image: Pixabay @TaniaRose

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AUTHOR: Anna Robson
2nd-year Archaeology student and Welfare Officer for Newcastle Uni Athletics & Cross Country.

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