Balancing your work-life-study balance is always a challenge for LSE students, but it’s by far one of the most important ones. It’s no secret that assignments, exams and other requirements as part of your course can make periods of the year a little busy. But ensuring you take regular breaks and have extra-curricular activities (aka the fun stuff) planned into your schedules will help you stay happy, keep mentally and physically healthy and can give you the motivation to power through those busier times.
Organising your studies is key to being able to adopt the right work-life-study balance. So, we’ve put together some tips to help you, courtesy of some of our own LSE students who have experienced the student journey from start to finish. There is no one size fits all when it comes to ways of studying, and you should definitely take some time to work out what your learning style is – but we hope that this provides some useful guidance and tips to help you get started!
PLANNING YOUR SCHEDUELE:
Use a diary/journal
To stay organised and keep on top of your weekly assignments, readings, and projects, it is a good idea to you keep an organised planner so that you can easily visualise your long-term and short-term schedule and goals.
This can take a variety of different forms. Whether you decide to keep a hardback diary, paper planner, digital app or smartphone calendar (remember to sync with the official LSE Student Hub app), it is really important that you have a record of your timetable, key dates and projects.
If colour-coding helps you learn and overcome any difficulties with keeping track of things, you may find it easier to just highlight instead of keeping multiple coloured pens. For instance, you might find it easier to highlight each of your courses so you can easily visualise your time into blocks (e.g. HY113, AN100, EC201 – these are example classes).
Setting goals in advance
Planning your academic year should involve some level of goal setting. It is really useful to make note of both your long term and short-term goals well in advance. Short term goals could include weekly readings, presentations and smaller pieces of work, and long term goals could include your thesis, research projects or end of year assignments. We recommend that you take some time to journal and fill up your diary with upcoming dates, projects, and events – that way, they’ll be no unexpected surpises and they’ll stay on your radar throughout the year!
One of the most efficient ways to cover all of the key details from your course is to have proper look at each of your modules’ information pages on Moodle and make notes of the long-term learning outcomes and short-term goals and key dates (e.g. tutorials, assignments, tests and exams). This way you will have a really clear visualisation of what your week, month, term, and academic year will look like.
And take your time with this! If it does feel a little overwhelming at first, it’s a good idea to break down your tasks into smaller manageable goals. This way, it will look visually better and will be beneficial for your time management and productivity aswell.
By setting goals way in advance of deadlines, you will steer clear from falling into the ‘no homework tonight’ trap. If, by some miracle, your schedule for the week is clear, look ahead to see what’s coming up next week and start tackling some goals way in advance! Remember, every step is an achievement, so it doesn’t matter how small your goals and tasks to reach them are – every one you tick off the list is a job well done!
Organising your time
Some students find it beneficial to split their weeks into time blocks to help visualise their availability. This way you can split out the hours in your week, dedicating them to various tasks and feel more comfortable that you’re working towards getting them done.
In addition to following weekly timetables, it is also really useful to keep a priority to-do list. Some students find it is better to do weekly to-do lists and some find it better to do daily ones – experiment with both and find the one that works best for you! The key word here is “priority”, this shouldn’t be a long list of everything you have to do, just focus on the critical tasks that have to get done for that week or day. By recording your daily or weekly priorities in your planner, you can essentially promise yourself that you are always doing something to work towards meeting your deadlines.
If you can’t do what’s due first, highlight and come back to it later in the day (if you can). There’s no point just staring at a task and not knowing how to approach it – have some time away from it and come back with a fresh take. If it’s a case of you need some support – why not explore the possibilities of reaching out to your peers, teachers, departments or academic tutors. Key tip – incorporate this into your to-do list too!
We’ll say it again because it’s a key piece of advice…If you have an essay or big project coming up, break the task up into smaller and manageable pieces that don’t seem so intimidating! Have a three-page essay due in a week? Try and set dates for completing little tasks related to the paper;
- Set an hour on picking a topic and outlining potential subtopics
- Set aside an afternoon or evening for some readings
- Aim to try and write a first draft 3-4 days before the deadline, so that you have enough time to rewrite once or twice more!
- And most importantly, don’t forget to incorporate breaks and rewards after completing each task or milestone
Rewards and being realistic
Remember to also organise some time apart for non-academic activities, like sports, socialising, and winding down. Throughout the week, try and organise some virtual dinners or activities with members of your household or bubbles; it is important to give your brain a break, so try and organise some time for play!
If you’re in the middle of a long reading or writing session, the same applies – take several breaks (at least two an hour) away from the computer. There are countless studies to show how this can actually boost your concentration and brain capacity, ultimately resulting in a better output – and let’s face it, we all want our hard work to pay off the best it can!
Finally, it is vitally important that you only fit in what you can. Don’t try and be that person who crams too many things in during the week – it’s not sustainable, productive and it certainly isn’t healthy. Balance is key!
At the end of the day, university for some is a once in a lifetime experience, and is about much more than what you learn in the classroom. Make sure you are enjoying LSE and getting the most out of your time here, by taking steps (like the ones we have outlines) to ensure your work-life-study balance is a good, healthy and happy one.
Found this helpful? Stay tuned for Part 2...
We've got a second installment of tips and advice on how to organise your studies coming out very soon! If you found this useful, make sure you keep a close eye on our website, sign up to our mailing list and follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to be one of the first to catch part 2 when it goes live!
Every week, we've been posting pre-arrival blogs (like this one!) on our website and circulating them on social media. We hope that these give you an insight into student life and help you get prepared and ready for starting your new life here at LSE! If this is the first one that you're reading, definitely check out our other pre-arrival blogs on our news page. Oh, and they don't stop here - watch out for more being released in the upcoming weeks!