Feel like there’s never enough hours in the day? It’s all about balance!
What a tough year it’s been for everyone – COVID-19 has led to massive lifestyle changes, including to your university experience. As Trimester 3 continues and you start to juggle assignment deadlines, we don’t want you to become overwhelmed or feel like things are getting on top of you as you study online.
We know it doesn’t always feel like it, but there are actually enough hours in the day! The secret is to use your time sensibly and find the right balance. But what is balance and how will achieving it make your life easier? We’ve listed a few ways to help you organise your time and prioritise.
Give yourself the gift of time
Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It’s a popular time management strategy that works in the following way:
- Choose a task you’d like to get done and set a timer for 25 minutes.
- Work uninterrupted on the task until the timer rings. If you think of something else you need to do, write the task down on a sheet of paper.
- When the timer rings, take a short break of about five minutes.
- Every four pomodoros, take a longer break.
Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s, each interval is called a ‘pomodoro’ (from the Italian word for ‘tomato’) after the tomato-shaped kitchen timer that Cirillo used as a university student. Cute, right? And effective, too – read more about how the Pomodoro Technique helps to instil a sense of urgency and makes you use your time more productively.
There’s also a range of other time management techniques, so see what works best for you.
Study SMARTer, not harder
Set some SMART goals for yourself. These should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Focusing your goal-setting in this way increases your chance of success.
De-clutter your life
Make a list of things in your life (at home, at university, at work, in relationships) that drain you of energy. Look at the list and decide whether to do it, dump it or delegate it. Now make another list of things that recharge your batteries – activities that lift your spirit like exercising, baking or painting. Make sure there’s something on each list and plan to do those things soon.
Make a study timetable
Study efficiently and leave yourself enough time to do other things by drawing up a study timetable. This plan should show when your assignments are due and note busy periods through the academic year.
Keep a diary and list what needs to be done daily. Include physical, social and study activities.
Our online Study workload planner will give you a sense of control and help you keep your study time balanced and productive.
Use a journal
Write down how you feel each day. Notice those times when you’re feeling great and those times when you’re not. When you’re low on motivation, think about what you haven’t done recently that recharges your batteries. Then go and do it (subject to social distancing or other COVIDSafe requirements, of course)!
Focus on your inner self
Mindfulness – being in the present moment through meditation – is a helpful technique to promote mental health. There’s a variety of mindfulness apps available – check out Beyond Blue for some helpful information or try some guided meditation from a Deakin counsellor. You could also try an activity like yoga or even just go for a walk to calm your mind.
Ditch those unhealthy habits
Many habits can affect how balanced your life is – these include things like a poor diet, an unhealthy reliance on devices, excessive drinking, procrastinating over assignments and deadlines, and not getting enough quality sleep. Take a look at how your daily habits affect you and where there’s room for improvement.
Seek professional advice
Still feel that you’re not on top of things and unsure how you’ll manage to complete your assignments? It may help to consult a professional or see how other students have coped – and there’s a range of Deakin services you can access from home:
- Talk to one of our student mental health experts by making a telehealth appointment with a Deakin Counselling and Psychological Support (CAPS) counsellor. You can easily book online.
- Visit our Ask Counselling blog to see what issues other students have been struggling with, and for advice from Deakin counsellors. There’s specific sections on falling behind and time management, so you might pick up some handy tips from students who’ve had the same concerns.
- Explore our eWellbeing hub for a range of helpful digital tools and resources.