March 8, 2016, by Alice Gould

Three Tips for a Better University Work-Life Balance

By Alice Gould, student blogger

One of the first things that was drilled into me at university was the importance of extra-curricular activities. From employer-led workshops to personal tutor meetings and society events, everyone was obsessed with improving their CV.

It all soon began to get on top of me.

Naturally I wanted to be employable – I dreamed of a career in law – but all that decorated my CV was two years part time work at a fish and chip shop and a grade 3 in double bass.

I started participating in as many activities as I could. I went on trips and attended events with various societies, volunteering inside and outside of university. I got a position on a society committee as well as being a student rep for another charity. I started the Nottingham Advantage Award. I had, not one, but two part time jobs – not to mention any temp work I could find.

I also wanted something that resembled a social life.

Unsurprisingly something had to suffer, and it turned out to be everything. I was doing so much, I couldn’t put the effort I wanted to into anything.

Since then, I’ve cut down on a lot, but I still consider myself a pretty active student. Now I’m in my final year, I’m a student representative for a legal charity, on the committee for a student-led volunteer project, work part time as a proof reader, just completed my final Nottingham Advantage Award module, go to dance lessons, compete in competitions – and I write for this blog.

What I really think has changed, is the way that I manage my time. These three simple steps have really helped me to attain a better university work-life balance:

1. Commit to timetabling

The best thing I have done to organise myself is to get really invested in timetabling. I use the app on my phone and make sure I enter everything – lectures, meetings and even coffee dates with friends.

I also try to make sure I know when I shouldn’t book certain things. For example, Thursday mornings are usually reserved for hangovers and not tutorial work!

2. Get your priorities straight

One thing that really messed me up before, was what I considered the most important use of my time. It definitely used to be money, which is why I had two jobs. I’m now far more relaxed. As much as it’s nice to have extra cash, other things are more important – especially attaining good grades.

3. Have some fun

As ridiculous as it sounds, this is actually something I began to forget. While it might be great for your CV to participate in lots of extra-curricular activities, the main purpose is to have hobbies you enjoy.

This year I’ve taken up dance, which gives me a chance to relax and have fun every Wednesday. It has also helped me meet loads of great people. Likewise I’ve also stopped doing things that I don’t enjoy. When it came to quitting a job, I got rid of the one with better pay and hours. Simply because I found it more stressful.

Overall, while it’s great to fill your CV – something that shouldn’t be neglected – what is most important is you. Having lots of committee positions might make your CV look great, but it’s not worth much if your grades suffer because of it, or if you don’t enjoy them!

How do you manage your university work-life balance? Please share your tips in the comments below. If you’re unsure about what or even how much you should be doing, you can book a one-to-one session with a careers adviser here.

Image Credit: Steve Buissinne

Posted in Student BloggersVolunteeringWork experience