How To Strike the Balance Between Work and Play at College

Arriving at a college can be one of the most liberating experiences of your life. After all those years of high-school timetables, rigid routines and constant assignments, suddenly, you have far more control over how you spend your time. During Fresher’s Week, hundreds of extra-curricular activities beckon: you’ve already considered signing up for lacrosse try-outs, the Dr Who Appreciation Society and auditioning for the college production of The Mousetrap. There are socials, mixers, roommates and old school friends to catch up with. You may have a part time job to find in order to supplement your cashflow, not to mention the coursework, lectures and assignments that are already pouring in. While it will take time to establish your new routine, follow these top tips, and you’ll be closer to organisation from day one.

Use one diary, planner or journal for everything

If you choose a course like Master of Science in Mathematical Education at a prestigious college such as AUS you’ll find there will be more class time a day than with a laid-back undergraduate course in Creative Writing. Either way you need to remember when to be present and correct. Buy one diary, and make it your bible. Write in assignment deadlines in red pen, take it to every class, and you have one, at-a-glance guide to your life. Treasure it, always.

Prioritize, realistically.

Yes, you might be tempted to take on that extra shift at work, but will the money really seem that important when you’re awake at 4am frantically scrabbling to make a 10am paper deadline? Get a clear hierarchy of study, work and social in your mind and be brutal about saying ‘no’ in order to keep it uncompromised. Rest assured, there will still be all night movie marathons and ultimate Frisbee tournaments next week.

Beat procrastination

It’s so easy to do almost anything but the task at hand, especially when the internet’s involved, and a deadline’s looming. Turn off all distractions in your dorm room, including your phone. Give yourself small rewards and incentives for completing small goals that will make up your final goal. For example, for every 250 words you write of that final essay, allow yourself to go for a quick walk to the vending machine, make a cup of tea or read a magazine for five minutes. Working for long periods of time seems so much less hopeless when there are lots of little rewards dotted throughout.

Make time for the essentials

Yes, an all-nighter can be tempting, but attempt too many, and the cracks will begin to show in your health and in the quality of the work you turn in. Instead, try to manage your time so you have some room to manoeuvre; if you have an essay due in a month, box off a few of your most productive hours, twice a week, in the weeks leading up to it, so you already have a great draft in place by the week of the deadline. Give yourself time to sleep and eat, and use a time management app or action program in order to identify where most of your time is lost. Clue: it involves cat videos, and the internet.

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