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Article written by Patrick Etimiri, University of Exeter current LLB student.
Law can be a very competitive course and it can often feel like there are so many readings to do but not enough hours in the day to get them done. This is NOT true! Granted there may be a lot of reading but with this article, I hope to give you the tips that I use to maintain a healthy work-life balance at university.
Have a clear weekly schedule
Often at university, you will be faced with several commitments outside your studies. It could be anything from society meetings to pro bono work, but these commitments can often escape you if you neglect them. A way that I find helps with this is scheduling your university and extra-curricular obligations on the same timetable. In doing this, you can ensure that you have no time overlap in your commitments and have a clear list of what you must complete each day. Another way to add to the clarity of your schedule is to colour coordinate your commitments by nature. For example, university work could be in red and society obligations in blue. This quick modification to your schedule helps you to quickly identify the next thing you must do so you can better plan other things in your life.
Schedule in activities
In an effort to complete all of the work involved in law, some students completely shut down any activity outside Law. I personally would advise against this. Of course, some nights your plans will definitely have to take a back burner due to your workload. However, deciding to isolate yourself and force yourself to work around the clock can actually lower your productivity and make your studying less effective, not to mention the impact this will have on your mental health. I would advocate, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day, having a break outside of your study area. This could come in the form of a visit to the gym, a run down the local trail or even a quick visit to your friends. Scheduling these quick activities into your day helps you make your work-life balance a priority that you can accommodate into your schedule.
Have a good working environment
Your work environment has a massive impact on your productivity so ensuring that where you are working is conducive to learning is essential. Some students prefer to study in the cosy solitude of their rooms and others may prefer the quiet of the library. What you choose is completely a personal discretion to be made from person to person. I personally prefer to work in the library as it is a separate working environment to where I relax, sleep, and eat (my room). Having this separation allows me to quickly get into the mindset of working at the library thus increasing my productivity and reducing the number of distractions that would otherwise lead me to procrastinate. Having these effective, productive study sessions allows me to have time to dedicate to extracurricular activities which is an essential part of my work-life balance.
Socialise and take a break
If you utilise the points discussed above you should have no problem finding the time to socialise. Socialising is important as it is a way to decrease stress, decompress from work and just increase your overall happiness. Taking a break is not the same thing as procrastination as it helps if this break is clearly defined in your schedule so you know you are supposed to be relaxing at this time and do not feel guilty about it.
Maintain boundaries (Learn to say no)
Although I did recommend that it is good to socialise you also have to learn how to maintain proper boundaries with friends, so your academics do not suffer. It is very easy, especially if you live in student halls, to have fun with friends even if you do have work pending. Once or twice, you may be able to get away with this, but this long term will affect your studies.
In conclusion, if you take the time to make your work-life balance a priority in your life then you should be able to maintain it with good time management skills.