By Jack Paul, BA (Hons) Creative Writing, third year
As a third-year student I can safely say I’ve experienced some difficulties during my studies, particularly in second year. The difficulties I was experiencing were almost entirely generated through my own lack of organisation and preparation. I soon figured out these problems were easily overcome with a series of routines that I could complete on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. These routines are easily followed and have dramatically reduced stress throughout my life making me a more productive, healthy and happy student.
Having three square meals a day may be seen as a relatively simple routine, but any student knows it can be too easy to slip out of. Skipping breakfast for a 9am lecture or sneaking in a takeaway because you can’t be bothered cooking are very small but significant factors in productivity and mood.
Planning meals before the week has started is not just a great way of saving valuable pennies, it is a great way of making sure you have a regular balanced diet. If you are struggling with your diet, try teaming up with friends to collaborate on dishes. It can be cheaper this way and usually serves as a great way of forming relationships. It also allows you to gain invaluable cooking skills for the future.
Whether you partake in sport to win or just for fun, it is extremely important you maintain a routine of regular exercise. Exercise has been proven to play a huge role in an individual’s mental state, as well as in their physical fitness. If, like me, you came to university and gave up on the very idea of exercise, it is vitally important you get involved with some form of physical activity as soon as possible.
If you’d like to try a new sport, why not gander through all the sports societies on the UniHub societies page. As well as competitive teams, most sports societies also have social groups that allow members to play the sport non-competitively. If sport isn’t your thing, Sheffield Hallam has its own gym facilities which offer great deals on memberships for all students.
As you progress through university, you may become overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs doing in preparation for lectures, seminars and deadlines. We’ve all been caught out trying to cram everything in last minute and our grades usually suffer as a result. But have no fear. All it takes is a little discipline to stay on top of university work. There is no need to rush around, panic or cry down the phone to your mum (don’t worry, everyone has done this at some point), all you need to do is build a routine.
The best way of forming a work routine is to study your timetable carefully and find any reading lists or relevant source material on the recently reinvented MyHallam site. It is also important to be honest with yourself when making your work plans, are you really going to spend five hours in the library on a Saturday night? Probably not. If you are struggling with a work routine, you can always make one alongside a friend. This is a great way of motivating one another and it can prevent distractions in the form of other spontaneous activities.
Socialising and attending social events is a huge part of university. Nobody should be shamed for socialising in whatever form they choose to do it, be it book readings, music events or video game conventions. However, there is too much of a good thing. Just like you would with anything else, structure your social life in a way that is healthy and manageable. Getting drunk every night is very sociable but very unhealthy, especially when trying to balance a university degree, so try structure it in a healthier way. Plan events you want to go to with friends to avoid spontaneous nights out and consider when university work and deadlines are due.
In many ways, this is the hardest routine to follow. Things pop up and occur in our social lives in such a sporadic way that it is almost impossible to fit them into a ‘routine’, but to maintain a healthy, happy and productive university experience these things must be considered and managed.
In my first year of student halls I was notorious for having a terrible sleeping pattern. I remained the butt of the joke for some time but in reality, it was having very serious negative effects on my mental health, my attendance at university and my relationships with people. The recommended sleep for adults 18-25 is 7-9 hours. Whilst this can vary, if it is drastically more or less than the recommended time you should seriously consider contacting SHU Health.
Remember that all these routines overlap in some way or another. A healthy sleeping pattern is dictated by things like diet and exercise, whilst productivity to complete work relies on sleep and a healthy mental attitude.
It can seem daunting when we move away from home into the big bad world. We are expected to suddenly become adults. The truth is this process of transition can be harder for some than others. Some naturally fall into healthy routines whilst some struggle with the self-discipline and will power to persist with such tasks. If you benefit from routines in your life and you see somebody struggling, why not help them out with setting up a particular routine, or simply motivate them to persist with one of their own.
The thing I’ve learned from routines is that our actions have knock-on effects to our behaviour. Following the routine once will motivate you to complete it a second time, and that second time will motivate you to complete it a third time, and so on and so on…