University is a packed experience for most people: it’s not just working on a whole new academic level. There’s also a raft of clubs and societies, new friends to make and opportunities opening up. You need to make sure you’re getting the most out of the experience – not only is it an important preparation for your career, whether you’re looking at jobs in banking, a career on the stage or clinical psychology jobs, it’s also perhaps the only time in your life when you have all of these opportunities to embrace! If you don’t make the most of it while you’re there, you’ll look back when your life is constrained by the responsibilities of a job, a commute and maybe a mortgage and children and feel like you could have done more.
If you’re going to squeeze the most out of your university life, you’re going to need to get good at plotting a timetable. It’s this that allows you to use your time effectively, to make sure you meet the key academic responsibilities you need to, to make sure you’re either hitting your own high targets or at least not bringing your university career to a premature end. With your academic work timetabled in, you know just where your free time is, and can make the best decisions about how to spend it.
In the early days this will be an imprecise science: don’t forget you’re adapting to a new way of learning, that demands more from you in independent study and thought. Don’t set too strict a timetable in those early days – use them to learn how much time you need for these key tasks. Limit distractions, so you learn how long it takes you to write a thousand word essay in real time: then you know how long you need to schedule and how long that concentration will hold out.
Once you can time table with accuracy, you’ll know when you need to get your head down in the library to hit a deadline, and when you’re done for the day and can relax with friends.
The Social Side
If you’re working all the time you’ll burn out quickly and quite possibly find you’re not enjoying your time at university at all. You need to have a social outlet to let off your study stress, as well as building friendships that could last you a lifetime.
Try to find commitments and pastimes that really offer you something back: a sense of fulfilment, achievement or even merely relaxation. Joining a sports team or performing arts club gets you not just a social circle and events, but also the opportunity to work for a real sense of reward and result! Rehearsals, practices, fixtures and performances are easy to fit into a timetable, and working towards a good result for the season or a performance of The Tempest might well make you feel a sense of achievement that the day to day grind of your studies doesn’t provide!