university life freshers time management organisation balancing responsibilities

University Life: Independent Living/Balancing Responsibilities

This won’t just be useful for University students hopefully, but anyone who’s going to be living independently for the first time and will have a lot more balancing to do! The focus will be on University responsibilities, but if you have a full time job instead, this should also be somewhat relevant. When you move into University halls, the first thing most students find is that they have a lot of unexpected things to deal with that take a lot more time than you might expect, so being good at managing your time so you can have a social life as well as managing your course responsibilities is really important!

The first thing to note about time management when you move to University is that you have to do a lot more things for yourself. Unless you live in catered hall, you have to feed yourself! This doesn’t just mean you need to spend time cooking though you will have to, but also food shopping — likely once a week, but this is something you need to make sure you have time for. Cooking also can take longer than you think, so try to plan meals that you know you won’t spend ages prepping if you’re going to be having a busy week. Meal planning ahead of time also means you’ll waste less time grocery shopping (it’s much easier if you have a list!) and also means you won’t be dithering about what to eat every night. You also have to do your own laundry, change your bedsheets and keep your room clean (tidy is optional, but the University will want you to leave your room clean when you move out, and it’s way easier if you just clean it regularly). Some of this you probably did at home, but at University you won’t have your mum bugging you to change your bedsheets and towels and do the laundry and those are all things you REALLY need to do regularly.

university life freshers time management organisation balancing responsibilities

On top of having responsibility for keeping yourself alive and presentable, you’ll also have your course work to be dealing with. Some of this time will be your timetabled classes, but don’t fool yourself into thinking the responsibilities end when you leave the seminar room. There will be reading to do, coursework to complete, revision to do, potentially group work to do, presentations to prepare, and you might also want to boost yourself by doing extra reading around topics as well. What worked for me was creating my own timetable, adding in times that I would use for doing reading for certain modules and making sure I had enough free time that when it came to writing essays I would have time to fit those in around my usual weekly reading. Setting certain days to do my regular work really helped me to keep on top of the reading I had to do, and meant I never missed anything, or left it all until Sunday night and then have to speed-read everything!

Many students also choose to have part time jobs alongside their studies to support them financially. If you’re one of these students (or want to be), you need to think about how much money you need and how many hours you can spare per week, hopefully then you’ll be able to find a job that offers what you need! Obviously this adds in an extra responsibility, and will require even more time management to balance, which is why you should think before you take a job about how many hours per week it would be advisable for you to work, and try to find a balance between the money you need to earn and the hours you work. While everyone knows that having a job takes up time, what often isn’t acknowledged is the amount of time it takes to actually find a student job! Unless you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers you a transfer, or you stay close enough to home to keep your old job, you’re going to be job hunting. Job forms can take a lot of time to fill out, and you will more than likely be filling out several. My advice is to write a cover letter out for the type of job you want (for many students this will be retail/hospitality) and then even if the job application is a form rather than a CV/cover letter situation, you may be able to copy and paste paragraphs from your cover letter to answer questions such as “why are you suited to this job?” that often come up on these kinds of forms. If you’re job hunting, you need to be looking fairly regularly as new jobs are posted daily, and often the faster you apply the better! This might also be something you try to schedule into your week, say a couple of hours twice a week to look for and make applications to jobs.

Finally, once you’ve balanced all of these responsibilities, the remainder of your time is for you to do as you please! This may include going to socials with societies you’ve joined, hanging out with your coursemates, dating, having film nights with flatmates or going to clubs, but also make sure you take some time to relax and chill in your own company so you don’t burn out. Try to be flexible with your coursework and chores in order to make the most of the social aspect of University — maybe you usually do the reading for one of your modules on a Wednesday afternoon, but your mate’s asked if you want to grab a coffee. Rather than saying no to your friend (unless of course you want to say no to them!), see if there’s a different time in your week you could shift your reading to this time. Basically what I’m saying is try to have a schedule, but also be a bit flexible and go with the flow so you don’t miss out on awesome opportunities! One of the best things about University is the social aspect, and the opportunity to really follow your interests and grow emotionally, so don’t always sacrifice the social aspect in order to keep your nose in a book. Sometimes, sacrifices may be necessary, of course, but maintain a healthy balance. As I learnt, there’s no point in cancelling plans only to work so hard you burn yourself out!

Do you have any tips that help you manage your time? Are you a scheduler or do you just take each day as it comes? Let me know, and share tips down below!

15 thoughts on “University Life: Independent Living/Balancing Responsibilities

  1. I am reading a very interesting book that could be helpful also in your case – “Indistractable” by Nir Eyal. It is about how to stay focused in work and in life, from the small tasks to time management and longer-time strategies. I read half of it and I find out things that I wish I knew earlier (starting with university time, when you’re on your own). Hope it helps!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t overload your schedule with classes! Seriously! Or if you know you’re a morning person don’t put them all towards the evening! Or vice versa! I learned my lesson about THAT quickly. Also…when you do back to back classes make sure that you have time to get to them or preplan and let your professor know you might be late because you’re coming from somewhere across campus!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great advice! I’d never have thought of that because in the UK you generally do the same amount of classes each term, and you don’t know when they’ll be before your timetable comes through!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic post again and I would echo all these points! I think it’s really important to make the most of the extracurricular activities university has to offer, and go with the flow as well!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yes, for sure! Join societies, go to extra lectures, just see what takes your interest and go for it. I went to some really interesting talks and met Mark Kermode because of extracurricular talks


  4. I’ve just read this and I would relate to this now! University is such an experience in so many different ways but the biggest shock to me has been being away from friends and family for so long! Take care of yourself!

    Liked by 1 person

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