The ultimate juggling act? Dispelling the myths about balancing university with the rest of your life

Hi, I’m Helen, I’m from Stockport and I’m studying MA English Literature. Here’s my first blog on balancing university with the rest of your life…

We’ve all seen the memes floating around the internet about balancing uni with the rest of your life; from the ‘you can only choose two triangle’ – either good grades, enough sleep or a social life – to the ‘me trying to do’ memes, where there are a list of about 500 activities a person has to do at once. A lot of people have the opinion that university is an impossible rubik cube-esque juggling act, where you physically can’t get the balance right. That’s not true. Over the course of my undergraduate degree I learnt a few tricks that, in the words of Goldilocks help you get the balance ‘just right’.

If you’re reading this, thinking I’ve got a million things to do, I don’t know where to start, I’m that busy I need to schedule toilet breaks. I feel you, I’ve been there. In my first year at university I remember at half 11 at night on one particular occasion, I was in a stress and a panic trying to get some reading done for the next day. I remember looking at the page, trying to read but because I was stressing that much my brain wouldn’t let me. I emailed my tutor asking if I could come and talk to her because I was worried that I wouldn’t get things done in time. The next day I went and had a meeting with her and she told me not to do any work over the weekend because distancing myself from it for a few days will mean that I will come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. I did. I didn’t do anything to do with uni that weekend and it made the world of difference. The following week I reflected on what I could do differently in the future in balancing my time so I never felt that stressed again. The thing I thought most about was how I actually spend my time, how much time do I spend studying and how much time do I spend socialising. I found I was spending huge chunks of my week hanging out with my friends in halls and then forcing myself to binge my studies almost. I decided at that point I needed to make a change in order to maintain a good uni/work/social life balance.

With that little pre-load in mind, here are my top three tips for balancing university life with your other commitments:

  • Timetable – this sounds cliché but mapping out a time when you can study, when you’re at work and when you have time to spend with loved ones really makes a difference. Getting into a routine with when you can do each really helps you get the balance right.
  • Treat all your commitments you have as an investment of time, or as something important to you – your studies are important, working at university is important and so is your social life. So make sure you give enough attention to all and don’t neglect one. If you feel like, ‘I’m working outside of uni too much’, see if there’s a way you can limit how much time you’re working so you can give more attention to the other things in your life. If you are doing university work and you start to feel stressed or overwhelmed that’s usually a sign that you’re doing too much of one thing and are neglecting the other things in your life.
  • Get enough sleep – getting enough sleep and having a routine is imperative when it comes to balancing your commitments. If you’re not going to bed until 4am some nights, it’s very likely that you’ll sleep for most of the day and you won’t much energy to do anything. So whatever you planned to do in the morning will probably be neglected. It’s all well and good timetabling but this flies out the window when you don ‘t get enough sleep.

I hope this gives you reassurance that you aren’t alone in your stress with balancing university with the rest of life. I hope this has ultimately dispelled the myth that you can’t have it all – because you can. It’s just about finding ways to instil some form of routine in your life, evening altering how you view the different aspects of your life can help to do this.

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