My first two weeks studying in Salamanca lulled me into something of a false sense of security; we were given no homework. This meant that I foolishly assumed my evenings and weekends would be largely free. Time to catch up on some sleep, watch TV and do all the pesky little jobs that build up during the week. Week three, however, came with a mountain of homework and an unwelcome reality check. This, coupled with the fact that my class hours are double what I would typically have at Leicester, meant that I had to do some serious structuring of my time. Here are a few tips for managing your work schedule and all the other commitments you need to fit into a week.
1) Write it down- all of it.
I fully recommend investing in an academic diary for this task. Write down homework, deadlines, social events, visits homes. Anything that requires planning, time commitment or is outside of your normal weekly routine should be jotted down. This way you’ll know exactly what you still have to do and the free time you have to do it in. (Frequently checking for events and deadlines that are coming up in the next weeks or month is also recommended.) What you don’t want is to go home for a weekend, belatedly remember you have a deadline and spend what would have otherwise been a lovely few days with your family writing essays.
2) Get into a routine.
If you have a day or an afternoon off in the week, set it aside to get the bulk of your homework done. Have a dedicated slot for doing the little things like laundry, cleaning and shopping. This counts for the fun parts of university as well. Invest time each week in catching up with your friends outside of the classroom or pick a regular evening to spend with your flatmates, even if it’s just for the Great British Bake Off! If you organise your time properly, and don’t fall into the pitfall of procrastination, there’s no reason why at least part of your weekend can’t be for lay-ins and television!
3) Cook in bulk.
This is something that I have been doing religiously since I started university. Cooking for one person every night is tedious and time consuming whereas, if you cook two or three larger dishes a week, eating properly becomes a lot more manageable. Most recipes are aimed at families of four these days anyway, so cook in bulk and all you have to do is reheat the leftovers for the next few nights. If you’re someone who gets bored of eating the same thing over and over, freeze extra portions at the beginning of the year for homemade ready meals when those exams and deadlines are looming!
4) Allow time for yourself and be flexible.
While having a routine and making a plan is an excellent way to manage your time, if you stick to it too rigidly, the effect can sometimes be counterproductive. If you sit down on your dedicated homework day and realise that your head is pounding and your concentration is shot, give yourself the break you clearly need and move your planned slot to another day. The same goes for social events, don’t miss out on something you really want to do because it clashes with your routine. University is about finding a balance and a degree of flexibility is required in everything! Additionally, it’s important to have time to yourself, to relax, as well. Schedule that into your week if you feel the need!
As always, I would love to know your opinions on this and any strategies that you have found helpful, so drop me a comment below.