For those students who already have confirmed places to study at Warwick starting from this September, congratulations! Whilst university is the most fun time of your life, it also brings a lot of challenges. In particular, maintaining a solid work-life balance is one of the main issues that fresher’s initially struggle with. Here are 5 pieces of advice I would give:
Have regular downtime
It is true that university can be the best time of your life, but there are also times where university can get mentally draining. You have to keep on top of lectures, have a social life, attend societies, cook for yourself and do your own laundry from the day you arrive, as well as a bunch of other stuff. Having to manage and balance all this can seem like an impossible task. Furthermore, all terms at Warwick last 10 weeks which is a long time. This means that if you don’t allow yourself a chance to relax your brain regularly it is extremely likely that you’ll burn out by week 5. This is why having regular downtime is essential. What you do in those periods of downtime can vary by person: I personally enjoy going to Leamington to visit friends, but for someone else it could be just being in their room watching Netflix. Either way, having some downtime is something that is essential.
Sleep well (when you can)
Note that the key words here are “when you can”. I will admit, there are times where you have to stay late at the library to meet a deadline, or go clubbing till the early hours and in these cases it is impossible to get a good sleep for the next day. But when you are so busy with university life, sometimes the importance of a good night’s sleep can be overlooked. This can also include naps between lectures. Having 9 hours of sleep when you can and being refreshed for the next day can do wonders for productivity. If you start sleeping at 4am all the time, it will quickly become a habit that will be difficult to get rid of, and it will then be hard to establish a routine from there.
Having regular downtime is essential
Set specific days for certain tasks
This is so important when maintaining a routine. When you arrive to university and look after yourself, you have to make your own routine. This can start by allocating specific days and times to specific tasks every week. For example, one thing that I used to do in my second year was to do my laundry every Saturday night and do my shopping every Monday afternoon (partly because I can’t stand the weekend crowd at the shops). There may be times you don’t stick to the routine you have decided due to unforeseeable circumstances, and that’s fine. But after a few weeks, these habits become second nature and makes having a good work-life balance that bit easier.
Take time to reflect
In my opinion, this is the most underrated aspect of having a good work-life routine. It is incredibly easy to get so caught up in everything at university that you neglect small yet important things such as the laundry, shopping or even an essay deadline. Not only that, you may be spending too much time working and not enough time socialising, and vice versa. Being new to university and all the responsibilities that come with it, it is normal not to get the work life balance perfectly correct initially, and you will make mistakes. However, setting a time every week (for me this was Sunday evenings) where you take time to reflect on what you are doing right, what you can improve on, and even setting goals for the next week can do wonders in helping you be more productive at university as well as growing as a person.
Look after your mental health
This is by far the most important piece of advice that I can give. The fact that almost 5 times as many students as 10 years ago have disclosed a mental health condition to their university speaks volumes of how big of an issue mental health has become amongst the student community. University isn’t a walk in the park, and the pressures that students face with academics, career planning, budgeting, as well as other things can result in anxiety and depression. Symptoms of bad mental health include social withdrawal, confused thinking and a growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities. Unfortunately, this is common among students at university and sometimes students are reluctant to seek support. Warwick has various sources of support in terms of dealing with mental health, which are extremely helpful if things do get too much for you.