The Student Room Group

How to balance personal and university life?

I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.

I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.

I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.

How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Force yourself to have at least one full day off, at home, doing absolutely nothing to do with your course. Self discipline.
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Anon,

Good for you for doing an Access course and not letting your previous results deter you from pursuing your goal : )
It sounds like though because of the way you were accepted on to your degree, you are now anxious about not doing well and this is causing you to be afraid to rest and to have a healthy balance with your work and university life.

You are right in thinking that you do need to find a better balance! The commute in itself will be making you feel tired and going in seven days a week will take its toll. It might be worthwhile to use the library and other resources when you are there for lectures and seminars, so to stay long time on those days, but to work from home or in another comfortable location on the other days.

You also need to give yourself a break. Have you joined any societies? Have you thought about joining any sports classes near you or getting involved in any community events? Taking time to switch off from uni work is good for your wellbeing as it helps you relax, de-stress, meet people, enjoy friendships, grow yourself as a person and helps you remember that there's more to you than your studies! It is also good for your studies, as when you return to study your mind is refreshed and better able to absorb information as your body and mind are well rested. If you have things planned in your diary, it can also help you be more productive as you know if you want to go a certain event that you need to get the work done beforehand or need to commit to getting it done afterwards!

Rather than focusing on doing exactly 60 hours of independent study, focus on doing the work that is required of you. This will take the pressure and stress off. (It's not wrong to do extra reading, but at the moment you need to work on a healthy balance! ) Make the most of your commute if you're catching the train or bus by reading your notes or books. This could also be a good time to respond to emails and text messages or you could deal with emails and text messages when you need a break from studying, when you've got to that point when you are just off task i.e. not really focused and distracted from working. All that being said, not every email needs to be replied to straight away, so do limit how long you spend replying to emails and prioritise the emails that need a quick reply and favourite ones to be replied to later. Block off time in your diary to do something fun, whether that's reading for leisure, meeting up with a friend, visiting family, baking or painting. These blocked off times need to be non-negotiable so once it's in the diary, that's it you take the time off.

Remember you need to prioritise your general health and wellbeing along with your studies. You should never feel bad about resting when you need to rest (and everybody does)!

Have a great weekend,

Oluwatosin 3rd year student University of Huddersfield
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

HI there,

This sounds like a tricky situation, but you are right and going to uni 7 days a week is probably going to end up with you being burnt out.

I would say that making a schedule might help you. I know you said you don't tend to stick to them, but if you plan in fun things too such as meeting friends etc, then you might be more likely to stick to it. Is it a case of you can't concentrate well while you are at uni which is why you are there so often or are you working that much?
What helped me to manage my time was creating a schedule and colour coding it with things I needed to do, things I wanted to do and then have another colour to mark when you have deadlines etc. This helped me to manage my time so I could still do the things that I wanted to do and I didn't get burnt out.

As others have said, I would say to try and go to the library on days that you already have a lecture/seminar and just go for a couple of hours after uni. Try and get your work done in this time and if you know you only have a few hours, you might get more done. If you try and stay on top of the reading each week and get your work done, you should really still have time for yourself and you shouldn't need to spend 7 days a week at uni.

I also agree that you should schedule one day a week where you don't do any uni work and only reply to emails if it is really necessary. It's important to have time for yourself as if you don't you will become unmotivated and unproductive.
Once you have made a plan with your family or friends, or just something you want to do on your own, put this in your diary and make sure you stick to it.

It is also worth maybe looking at joining a society as this will ensure you go and do something that you enjoy at least once a week. A sports society may be good as this is something active to do which is good to try and keep doing, even when you have uni work and deadlines.

I hope some of this helps,

Lucy -SHU student ambassador.
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Hi there,

Well done for doing your access course and getting into university, you should be really proud of yourself! University can be difficult and it can definitely be difficult to find a work life balance, especially when commuting as well.
I think it is really important to find this balance, so that you have time to do things that you enjoy outside of university.
One of the best ways to do this I would say is to try to speak to a student in the year above you and see what they did this time last year, but also try to have at least 1 afternoon if not 1 full day off a week so you have plenty of time to do other things you enjoy.

I hope this helps,

Ellen
University of Sunderland Digital Ambassador
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Hi there,

It sounds like you are in a tricky situation where you are wanting to do well and put all your effort and energy into trying to well but at the same time sacrificing your social life putting you on the edge of burning out.

I have been in a similar situation where I have focused mostly on uni work and work without a day off for a while which lead to me becoming burnt out which can be way worst in the long run. Like others have suggested make sure you schedule time to take at least one day off per week as this will allow you to socialise/meet up with friends or family as well as giving you the opportunity to do the things you enjoy. I would also suggest getting yourself into a good routine where you have times in the day where you focus on your uni work but also given yourself time to wind down in the evenings before you go to bed as this can be a good way to incorporate something you enjoy but also gives you some time to relax. Furthermore, with the routine as you get closer to deadlines or exam seasons you can the schedule in some more time to focus on uni work and preparing for them.

If you have not done so already I would say join a sports or society as this will mean that you can meet up with people and socialise at the same time and it will give you something to do outside of studying and will also pull your attention away from uni work for a couple of hours a week. This can help ensure that won't suffer from academic burn out.

I would also say spend time with friends and maybe get a group together where you spend time studying and doing your work. This can help as you can all keep each other accountable for the work which you are doing but also keep each other accountable for the amount of time you spend doing work so you don't end up working all day every day.

I hope this helps and good luck with your studies! 😊
Katie - Student Ambassador
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?
Hey Anon,

Firstly, I would like to say congratulations for getting onto your course and you should be so proud of yourself.
Finding the right balance is something that came to me throughout my university journey. I believe that creating a structure and balance within your studies is something that will help. I completely understand the way you are working right now but don’t let that set you back, these things come with time.

I found that having regular breaks between doing work helps a lot, whether it’s just leaving the room you are working in for a few minutes or going for a small walk. This made the quality of my work better too rather than working without regular breaks and just pushing through it. I also think on top of the regular breaks, having a day or two off or where you are doing work for just a couple hours will help, if you are proactive with the days you are at university.

Replying to texts and messages about university, is something that I had a habit of doing. I would try to wind down and relax but would end up emailing. I think switching your phone off or having it on silent after a busy day will be very beneficial. When I started doing this, I wasn’t being reminded to reply or read emails and was able to fully recharge ready for the next day.

At the end of the day, you and your body are the most important thing, so don’t forget to make time to look after yourself whilst still being productive with your uni work!

I hope this helps and hope you have a fab weekend.

Jakub- Final year student at UCLan
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Hi there

Being at University 7 days a week can be quite draining, and it is probably not the ideal since you may feel quite burnt out. It is good that you have attempted to create a plan, I think something like this is the right thing to do. Perhaps a reason why your schedule is not working is because it is too strict? I usually find this one of the main reasons which I cannot follow up with my own schedules.

However, I think by planning in plenty of free time where you can rest properly and relax is a good idea. Try ascertaining all the workload that you have to complete, and organise these into reasonable tasks which can be accomplished. Personally, I find allowing some time transitioning between each task to be quite useful (for example: this could account any commuting times, possible delays). This may make it seem more manageable? Creating a schedule that works for yourself can be quite difficult and there are a lot of factors to account. So you can always keep adjusting it.

Although I do not study a English Language Course, my course also has a lot of reading to do. Resulting, most students in my course fall behind on their workloads from time to time. I think it is important to remember not to be too harsh on yourself. There is always time to catch up on any missed work. One tip that has worked for me is to ensure you are prioritising your tasks- what will be the most important for your grades (e.g. if there is a particular piece of reading that you wish to use in coursework or exams, you may like to spend more time on this and skim read others). Hopefully, this can perhaps allow you more time to rest and recharge.

Good luck and take care
Chloe
University of Kent Student Rep
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Hiya,

Sounds like you’ve got a very heavy schedule commuting 7 days a week. That’s is a lot of hard work! I’d suggest thinking about where else you can study, do you need to study at the university on the days you don’t have lectures? I’m perhaps you could look at studying at home, a quiet cafe or local public library closer to you? That way you would only need to commute on the days you have lectures. On the lecture days you can stay at the university to study. if you can do that, I think you’ll free up some more time.

I try to be plan a few weeks ahead for my personal time, in doing this I actually book dates in with my friends and on them days I don’t do uni work. You have to make sure you’re scheduling 1-2 days a week for yourself to unwind and relax. Maybe you could try this? I even book days in to do nothing, but I plan small things I know I’ll look forward too just for myself.

You’ve already come from doing an access course which is awesome and you managed that, which from personal experience I know is super time consuming and intense! You can do this, sounds like you’ve probably just got into a bad routine of forgetting about you time.

I know it’s important to work and earn money but is there a more flexible job you could do? I had to give up my job coming into second year as I had zero time for myself. I started working as a student ambassador which has been so much more flexible. Yes I’m working less hours and therefore have less money, but I’ve worked around it and do feel a lot less stressed!

When you’re at home in the evenings, put your phone on night mode or mute anything university related until the morning. You need to do this for you or you’ll end up burning out.

I hope this helps some. I know it’s difficult but you need to remember that even tho your studies are important, your health and mental wellbeing are more important! You can’t do your best work when you’re stressed and overwhelmed.

Good luck 🙂

Sophie (ARU)
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Are you unable to study at home or study at a library closer to home?
Original post by Anonymous
I did poorly in my GCSEs and A-levels, I ended up having to do an Access course which I paid for, because of that, I was able to get into university.
I'm completing an undergraduate degree in English Language. I'm commuting too and from university 7 days a week, when I'm not at university for lectures, I'm there to study, when I'm not there to study I am working.
I feel being at university 7 days a week is unhealthy, I'm currently doing three modules on my degree, each module requires 60 hours of independent study. I try to have a system in place and plan what I'm doing each day but I never stick to it. The only time I'm home is usually to sleep, I often have one or two hours to relax before bed time, however I still find myself responding to emails and text messages about university.
How do I change my relationship with university from an unhealthy relationship to a healthy one? How do I create these boundaries?

Hey there, that sounds rough! You've clearly put in a ton of effort to get to where you are, having to do an Access course and now juggling a commute, studies, and work on top of everything else. No wonder you're feeling stressed!

The good news is that university should be awesome and not all-consuming. Here's what you can do:

1. Be honest with yourself about how many hours you can realistically dedicate to studying each day. 60 hours per module per week sounds very high. Can you speak to your lecturers or find resources to improve study efficiency?

2. Not all tasks are created equal. Identify the most important things that need to get done each day and focus on those first.

3. Schedule dedicated relaxation time, hobbies, or time with loved ones. If you have these breaks to look forward to, you'll be more focused during study sessions.

Remember, creating a healthy balance takes practice. Be patient with yourself, and these tips will help you find a way to make university work for you, not the other way around. You've got this!

Good luck!

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