Moving to university for the first time can feel as though responsibility has been catapulted at you whilst you were looking the other way.
Juggling university work and reading, trying to keep your room tidy, remembering to do the shopping and trying to find time to socialise all at the same time can feel like way too much. If you’re anything like me, you may take a look at all of your responsibilities and decide, “This is the perfect time for a nap”.
Being an adult is difficult. Organising my time was much easier when my mother was screaming at me to do my chores, but when there’s no one nagging you to do anything it’s very easy to decide to do nothing at all. Having been at Swansea for over 2 years now, I’ve managed to figure out a few strategies that have helped me juggle my responsibilities.
WRITE A TO-DO LIST
One of the best ways to get things done is to write a to-do list before you begin the day. Although I have never actually completed a to-do list, at least I’ve managed to complete some of the activities written on there and that’s better than nothing, right? I also tend to either lose my to-do list or forget about it… However, one of the most important things about a to-do list is that it enables you to break down tasks into smaller steps which can help you feel less overwhelmed. So, try not to write things such as ‘clean the entire house’ on your to-do list because you’ll look at it and decide to do nothing all day instead. Remember, it’s better to do some of an activity than do nothing at all so try not to set your expectations too high by writing an impossibly long to-do list because again, chances are you’ll become too overwhelmed and then decide to ignore all of your responsibilities.
If you struggle to do small, boring tasks like me then it may also be helpful to break down a task into chunks. For example, if you can’t be bothered to take the bins out then your list could say: Step 1: ‘Walk to the kitchen’, Step 2: ‘Pull the bin bags out of the bins’, Step 3: ‘Put bin bags in the empty bins’ and so on… It may seem a little silly but every time you check off a step you feel a sense of achievement and the feel-good chemical dopamine starts to release in the brain, which helps motivate you to continue doing the task.
MAKE BORING TASKS INTERESTING
For example, when you need to clean your room, pop in some headphones or play music from a speaker to help keep you motivated. I find hoovering pretty boring, but I don’t mind it as much when I’m able to listen to music. When you’re revising for your exams, try writing with coloured pens. I personally find that this makes revision a lot more interesting than writing in black. Colour also allows you to remember things a lot better!
I think I would find it impossible to complete a task if there wasn’t a reward involved after I’d finished. I often use food as a reward system but this isn’t always healthy, mainly because the food I eat is usually chocolate biscuits. Perhaps do a task you enjoy as a reward for your hard work. For example, I always play video games after I have completed some work, or I write a blog post. Don’t forget to take regular breaks, at least once an hour, as spending hours on something without a break leaves you even less motivated next time you come around to doing it.
BUY A WHITEBOARD
Or you can just use your tablet or phone. I recently bought myself a whiteboard and have found it very useful, especially for remembering things. My whiteboard is usually where I write my to-do lists, as having it written in big writing on the wall helps me stop forgetting about them. I also think it’s important to write my deadline dates for my assignments there so that I don’t forget that I have an upcoming deadline and then end up starting my assignment last minute.
by Emily Williams