As a lot of you may know, my life during term-time at uni is pretty busy! With lectures, labs, studying, assignments, cooking, laundry, rowing, training, socialising and relaxing, it can often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day!
Student life can often be very overwhelming and stressful, but it is also some of the best years of your life, so here are some of my tips on how best to manage your time and find that healthy balance in your life!
1. Write Lists
Being organised is key for helping you maintain a balance in your life so one of my top tips is to write lists! Whether it’s by hand, on little sticky notes or simply on your phone, this will help you so much and remind you what needs to be done. I am such a fan of a list, I make them for everything: my uni work, shopping, little jobs to do, places I need to go, etc! They keep you productive as you always know where you’re at and what you need to do. It’s somewhat extremely satisfying ticking stuff off your lists and keeps you motivated to keep pushing through those busy days and weeks!
2. Get up earlier
This may sound daunting to a lot of you as I know how much people love their beds but one of my main tips is to get up a little earlier! Whether that be an hour or two or just half an hour, trust me, it could make a massive difference to your day! Some of your most productive time is probably early morning when you first wake up. Personally, I like to get up at 5am, be in the gym by 6am and get my workout/training done for the day nice and early before lectures, so that’s one less thing to worry about and starts my day off productively!
3. Get enough sleep
The other side to waking up earlier is making sure that you get enough sleep. Don’t get up so early that you compromise your Z’s. Being well-rested is essential for being productive not only for the next day, but the whole week in general. One night of little sleep could affect the next few days, so you may have to sacrifice some late nights in order to get some shut-eye!
4. Make your workouts efficient.
For me, fitting in my workouts/training is one of my daily priorities. I usually find that first thing in the morning is the best and most efficient time for me to get to the gym, although sometimes I will go in the evening if that works for me. Make sure your workouts are short but effective. You don’t need to spend hours upon hours slaving away in the gym – in fact, the most productive ones for me usually only last about 45 minutes! If you like lifting weights but are short on time, add in lots of supersets/dropsets and keep your rest periods short to really keep your heart-rate high and ensure you are really feeling it in your muscles. If you prefer cardio, ensure you do HIIT – just 15-30 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training will be much more time-efficient than slogging away for hours on the treadmill, not to mention much more enjoyable! Get in and out of the gym quickly having had an enjoyable and effective workout and crack on with the rest of your day/evening!
5. Food Plan & Prep
Probably one of the best ways to stay organised is to plan and prep your food/meals in advance. It’s surprising how much time cooking can take out of your week as a student as you have to do everything yourself; the preparation, the cooking AND the washing up. Therefore, cooking meals in bulk all at once can help shave off so much time from the rest of your week, so that you don’t waste time everyday cooking from fresh. I like to cook big pots of mince meat in a sauce with lots of veg which will provide around 4-5 servings that I can then either pop in the fridge or freezer for later in the week. I also cook a few chicken breasts and keep them in my fridge for the week. When it comes to veg, I usually buy a tonne of frozen veg which only takes 5 minutes to boil – quick and easy peasy! As lots of you will know from following my instagram, I like to prepare my post-workout zoats in the evening ready to grab straight after my morning workout before lectures!
If you’re a fellow macro-tracker like myself, I would advise taking a few minutes every evening to plan the following day or next few day’s eats. For me, I will usually plan my protein source for each meal (meat, eggs, fish, whey), then add in my carb sources (usually around my training). If there’s anything I’m particularly fancying like a certain nut butter/sweet treat I’ll usually add that in too. Everything else I’ll add in as I go along the following day. This will just shave off a little bit of time and stress for the next day and will mean that you know roughly what you’ll eat: this means you’ll continue to make good choices with regards to food and won’t end up snacking on rubbish because of your busy schedule.
By this, I mean use your time wisely and try not to procrastinate! I know this is much easier said than done: my middle name used to be procrastination! But the busier you are, the more you find that you can motivate yourself to get stuff done because you have no choice but to manage your time. I’m not saying you have to do anything too taxing like writing a 3000 word essay whilst doing sit ups and the washing up all at once (although that would be very impressive!), but simple things like doing some uni work whilst waiting for your laundry to finish or your food to cook can save so much time throughout the day and ensures that you’re always being a little productive!
Also, a little tip that I’ve found that really helps me with regards to uni work is to take your laptop to lectures/tutorials and type up notes as you go along. It’s far quicker and all your work and notes will be in one place on your laptop, making it much easier when it comes to doing assignments or revision later on.
7. Take time to relax
This is such a vital point. Even though it’s important to make your time productive, don’t forget that taking time out of your schedule to chill is just as essential, otherwise you’ll go insane! Make sure you take time everyday to switch off from everything and spend some time completely relaxing and de-stressing. Whether it be hanging with friends, listening to music, going for a stroll or whatever; your mind will thank you for the break from a busy day!
8. Love what you do
This may sound difficult but is a pretty simple concept. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, what is the point? If you hate your workouts or training, change them up/choose a different sport. If you feel uncomfortable in certain friendships/relationships, choose to surround yourself only with the people that support you and make you feel wonderful. If you hate the subject you study or the job you do, seriously consider changing your path.
Some may say that it isn’t as simple as that, but it really is. This life is all about being happy and if something is causing you to feel the opposite then a change must be made. I completely agree that we must all go through things and do things that aren’t always desirable; this makes us appreciate the good things even more. But if you truly love the majority of what you do it’ll be much easier to happily juggle the different aspects of your life.
I hope you find these tips helpful: they are some of the things that I live by day to day to help me through my busy schedule. Whether you’re a student or not, hopefully they will also help you on your way to a more balanced and happier lifestyle!