Work Life Balance

What is Work Life Balance and why is it important? 

The transition to studying at University can feel like a big jump, which understandably can feel overwhelming. It is pretty easy to focus all your efforts on studying and forgetting about looking after your wellbeing in the process. 

Ensuring you maintain a healthy work-life balance is essential in order to reduce the likelihood of burnout. It will also support you in enjoying your time at the University Centre here at South Devon College. 

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance supports good physical health and mental well-being. This page has some top tips on how to balance your university work with your other life commitments. 

  1. Remember to take regular breaks when studying: When you have assignments to write, presentations to prepare for, and deadlines looming, it can be easy to believe that you do not have time to take a break. However, taking regular intervals will help you be more productive, help you stay focused and retain information better. Allowing yourself to take a break will help boost your performance. 
  1. Knowing it is okay to relax: As the saying goes, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Our body is designed so that it requires rest, a time to rejuvenate and detoxify. We cannot do this if we do not relax and allow ourselves some downtime. Instead, it will remain in a heightened alert state, where the stress response remains switched on. Over time this can damage your well-being, and in terms of ability to study, it can impact concentration, energy levels, ability to retain information etc. Therefore, dedicating time during your day to relax is crucial to your overall well-being and will also support you and your studies. Everyone has separate ways in which they like to relax. Whether you enjoy exercising, reading a book, gaming, watching a film or talking to friends, the overall aim of doing something that promotes relaxation is to help you feel well-rested and refreshed. 
  1. Study Space: The space you choose to study in is essential as it can impact how motivated you feel when studying. Ideally, you want to separate your study environment from the spaces you choose to relax in. It helps disassociate your thoughts from study, allowing you to switch off and relax when not studying. If this is not possible, you can always create specific spaces in one room where an area is dedicated to studying and another for relaxation. 
  1. Sleep: Sleep is vital to health and well-being. All of us will have experienced the results of a lack of sleep. The occasional disturbed night’s sleep is okay; however, problems can arise if sleep quality is impeded regularly. Study wise having a lack of sleep can affect your ability to focus and concentrate on any given piece of work. It can increase feelings of anxiety, worry and stress. Likewise, it can also have a detrimental effect on your level of motivation around your studies. Therefore, getting a good night’s sleep certainly supports you in balancing your studies alongside your other commitments. How can you promote sleep? – Check out our Sleep Well Guide 
  1. Time Management: There will be times over the academic year when your workload increases, meaning you may find it more of a challenge to find time to relax and to fit in everything else you have to do. This is where time management will undoubtedly support you in finding the right balance that works for your wellbeing and studies. Effective time management involves planning your time, ensuring you set yourself realistic, achievable goals and, of course to factoring in some relaxation time around your study commitments. Now what you use to plan your time is up to you, and the general rule of thumb is to go with what works for you. Below we have listed some examples of time management tools that you may find helpful: 
  • Wall study tracker – Having a visual planner which you can refer to daily can support you in staying on top of assignment deadlines and study time. 
  • Diary or calendar – Using a diary and / or a calendar can help you manage your time, e.g., highlighting important dates associated with study and life commitments.  
  • Set a reminder – Setting reminders on your phone is a terrific way to help plan your day, helping you not to forget lectures and assignments. Likewise, you can use the timer on your phone to help break up your study time into manageable chunks, to avoid overwhelm. For example, you could plan to sit down for 45minutes to work on a piece of assignment. The alarm will signal when it is time to take a break.  

Some useful apps on the market are designed to promote and support time management e.g., Trello, Onenote, Evernote, etc. There are also apps available that are designed to help you stay focused and to reduce distraction. Some examples of these include:  

  • Freedom – allows you to block websites and apps for a certain period to reduce distraction whilst you are studying. 
  • Two – block distracting apps automatically 
  • Focus Me – will help block specific sites and apps 
  • Leechblock – allows you to schedule time limits on distracting sites.  
    If you need support in managing your time and planning, you can also book in with the HE Study team who will be able to help you.

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