All work and all play: balancing university life with your social life

Six hundred hours. That is officially how many hours university should take up during a semester for undergraduates. For postgraduates it can be even more.

This is especially hard to stomach when living in a city like Edinburgh, which has an amazing social scene and nightlife. How do you strike the balance between university and a social life?

For a start, let’s not pretend that those two things should always be kept separate. Studying with a group of friends, and participating in academic societies, are ways in which you can get a healthy dose of both work and play.

That being said, many prefer to study alone and academic societies are not for everyone, therefore this balance can be difficult to achieve for some students.

Firstly, you need to identify the things which are taking up too much time. Facebook can eat up the hours terrifyingly fast. Thinking of ways to shorten the time spent on procrastination and chores, can free up time in the day.

However, you cannot avoid prioritising certain things over others; as much as it can hurt, university always comes first, then friends, then procrastination. Dank memes can wait.

If you don’t have one already, get a diary. A physical diary made of paper and ink. Have it open next to your desk or bed on the current week, and list everything that is coming up, including deadlines or society events and things that you need to start doing. Having that open next to your bed, ready and waiting to look at every morning, will help you feel more organised and confident in carrying out your tasks for the week.

In terms of meeting up with friends, try and do this in a somewhat structured way. It doesn’t need to be too formal, but agreeing a place and time on the same day of the week, means that it is much easier to incorporate being social into your mental timetable. Societies are often good for this, since they have set meet-ups throughout the semester that normally don’t stray from a set time and place.

Finally, try not to panic. Putting yourself under a lot of pressure isn’t going to help your academic or your social life. Keep calm, and it becomes much easier to make everything fall into place.

For more advice, the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) at the university has several resources about time management, to help make sure that university is productive and rewarding, both academically and socially.

image: DariusSankowski via pixabay

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