Balancing downtime and study

I will definitely not forget my first year of university! It has been jam-packed with all the important rites of passage and a global pandemic that forced learning to go online…
Today I wanted to give you some of my top tips to balancing your study time and your downtime now that we’re all working and relaxing at home. Because if you’re like me you’ll probably need something to keep you motivated to work and not spend all your time watching Disney+…

My first tip would be to follow your normal university timetable. This will help keep some structure to your day and retain some routine over the coming weeks. What I find helpful about following my timetable is that it already has all my breaks built into it, so I know I’m not over working and I have time for a snack and lunch without having to think to factor it in.

Sometimes I even have bigger breaks in my time table such as two-hour free period where I can spend some of my downtime in between studying. The last thing you want to do is find yourself in a cycle of being demotivated to study or to overwork yourself without realising.

I realise not everyone will still want to be up and ready for that early 9am start that you’re timetabled down for – even I have been struggling with that! If you think that a time table would help you balance your time but want to start later in the day, create your own timetable or just shift all your lectures to an hour later.

However, I wasn’t born on yesterday’s banana boat so I know not everyone works the same. Some of you might prefer a much more relaxed routine to study and downtime in which case my second top tip would be to make sure you take short but frequent breaks every now and then to ensure you give your brain a rest. Also, try not leave all your study until the evening and allow downtime in your evenings although I know that is easier said than done.

You know that sense of escapism you feel from study when you just land abroad for your holiday or go home for the holidays or even just finish study for the day after a long hard day? We need to make sure we are all still having that sense of that escapism from study, especially if you have been doing it all day.

My third tip would be, if it’s possible, to try and study somewhere different to where you might spend your down time. I like to spend a lot of my downtime in my bedroom as I’m sure a lot of you guys will too – it’s a student thing I think – so I try and do my study at the dining room table rather than my bedroom. Work where you feel most comfortable but make sure you have somewhere to spend your downtime where you can forget about your study and relax for a while.

My last tip would be to try and spend your downtime outside the land of cyberspace. Suddenly everything has moved online and I don’t know about you but I’ve been getting headaches from being on my laptop or phone screen for too long. Some of us will be working and spending our downtime looking at a laptop screen or a TV. Why not try and complete a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle or read the book you never got around to reading. I’ve found puzzle books very helpful and I’ve started to read my favourite book series Twilight all over again!

I’m aware that running away from laptop screens and TVs isn’t as easy as it sounds in today’s society with the recent release of Disney+ (how amazing?), Face Timing loved ones, and a lot of virtual online quizzes that are happening, which are great btw! We all respond differently to situations so try and find a routine that works for you. Downtime is just as important as our university study whether you’re in first or third year so establishing a realistic balance between them both will help you through this strange and difficult time.

And hey! You may never get this time back again so try something new in your downtime and maybe try out some new study routines while you can!

Stay safe everyone and good luck in all of your study over the next few weeks : )

Your fellow student Tara.

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