05 Apr Student blogger – Anna Goodman – the work/life balance
I came to University expecting to be challenged: intellectually, socially and emotionally. I found school fairly patronising with its focus on achievement and control. We were never expected to investigate or question for ourselves; merely to retain the information taught and then regurgitate it in an exam. Completely sick of this environment, I came to University excited about the freedom and flexibility that it would offer me.
However, with freedom comes responsibility, and I did not anticipate how challenging time management could be. I knew that my course would be demanding; especially progressing from absolute beginner’s Spanish to post-A Level in one year, combined with French and Politics modules. However, I had not anticipated all of the interesting societies to get involved with, nor the volunteering opportunities, parties, or the time that it would take to cook, clean, and generally look after myself!
I have responded therefore by making lists, prioritising, working efficiently and occasional stress. Writing to-do lists was short-lived, as I ended up being overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of work, rather than tackling it effectively. Therefore, I progressed to writing a timetable. I penned in my lecture times, lunch breaks, and essential societies. I then calculated how long lecture preparation took. Writing these on cards, I shuffled them around on my timetable, until everything fitted nicely; leaving plenty of time for relaxing, and extra work if necessary.
I have not followed this religiously; instead it has been a useful guide to show me that my work schedule is manageable, and that relaxing and self-care is essential. In my first Semester, when I was only taking fifty credits, I breezed through working from 10-2. First year did not feel that challenging.
This Semester, I realised that taking seventy credits was not a good idea; especially because I had never previously studied Politics. Therefore, I learnt to prioritise. I could not read everything to the same depth as last semester, so I worked out what was most essential and did it first.
Also, I found a more effective way to read. Rather than reading chronologically and taking notes on everything, I read the introduction, conclusion, and then picked out appropriate paragraphs. Furthermore; setting time limits and creating rewards and incentives, has been very motivating.
As a morning person, I try to get my work done earlier; have an hour in between to play flute, then socialise in the evenings. This also means that I sleep well, as my brain is not overloaded with work when I want to sleep. Socialising in the evenings motivates me to work during the day.
Coming from a Christian background, I have adopted the Jewish tradition of taking a Sabbath, or twenty-four hours of rest per week. During this time, I recharge: prioritising my physical and emotional wellbeing, and then begin the next week refreshed and enthusiastic. It reminds me that there is more to life than essays and grammar, but also that I am ridiculously privileged to be able to pursue further education.