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Friday, 30 March 2012

Balance, what balance?

-By Jodi

Balance, what balance? I know that’s what it feels like sometimes when the carpets need vacuuming (I know I put the vacuum somewhere…), your boss asks you to do extra shifts, and due dates for the assignments are looming. In that case there is no time for balance - it’s do whatever works!

If you can backtrack a step and listen to your parents/teachers/concerned aunty and do some organising then chances are that this level of chaos won’t eventuate. Yes, it is possible to go out with friends and complete assignments. It is also possible to have some time lying on a sandy beach soaking up the last of the sun’s rays and to turn up to work. There can be a balance.

Admittedly I am about to turn into one of THOSE students that us in the back row of class used to gaze at in wonder. You know the ones – they put up their hand to answer every question, they procure relevant quotes about the topic in question, eat lunch from neatly labelled lunch bags filled with organic produce from their own garden (very tasty by the way), and they hand in their assignments early. How do they do it?

I can’t say that I’ve got it right yet but here’s some organising tips that have helped me:

* Get a diary/use the calendar in your phone. Before class starts write in every date that is listed, including the start date of the trimester, when every assignment is due, the exact time and location of the tutorials, and when the exams are occurring. Tedious, I know, but it saves sooo much time later.

* Then map out your week, setting aside the relevant hours for study, work, alone-time, and social activities.

* Stick to the plan. I find this is what makes the balance work. For example, I have two study days set aside from my regular commitments and activities. At the start of the trimester I don’t have a lot to do because the assignments aren’t always listed and there are no close deadlines. This is the time that I do extra reading, borrow some books that are relevant to the subject from the library, and even make some draft notes for the assignment. Then when assignments are due I can concentrate on the specific task because I am ahead in the reading, etc.

* Switch off. Sometimes literally. I’ve found that one way of coping with the stress of university and all the expectations that come with that is to switch off the computer, fold up the class notes, shut the study books. If everything is going to plan then I have time to have a guilt-free coffee with friends, attend work, go for a swim/run/ride, have a nap(!) because I know that at the next scheduled time I will complete the tasks that I set for myself.

I know that sometimes it seems like a balance between social and academic life is an enigma but a large part of achieving a balance comes down to being organised and allowing yourself the freedom to relax as well.

Wishing you all the best in achieving an amazing academic and social life balance!


  1. Hi Jodi! Lovely post!! I sort of had a similar system too. I used to have sheets of paper mapping out my daily commitments for the whole week, and I'll have it in my folder (to keep me on track while at uni) and I'll print a copy in A3 size and paste it on my wall. Whatever I get done for the day, I'll cross it out. Great motivation to get everything done too! But I struggled the most with sticking to the plan (laziness and procrastination visited and they refused to leave) and switching off (my coffee catch ups and naps tend to go over time). Haha! But looks like you're on the road to success with the plan. Keep it up and best wishes!

  2. You sound super organised Karen :) It's good to find something that works for you. I'm not naturally a structured person but I find that being organised is the only way to get things done (for me).
    Thanks for your comment and all the best with your studies for this year!