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Work vs. life: getting the balance right

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Goodness knows I have gotten it wrong, work/life balance-wise. I spend weeks on end procrastinating endlessly by going to sports clubs and societies, without ever really relaxing – and then I work intensively for a couple of weeks or nights, only to exhaust myself completely, and repeat the cycle when my next deadline is due.

By living in this way, I do my work, and I am hugely involved in university life, but I never, ever get that rest and relaxation time that all of us truly need. To avoid making yourself ill and, at times, severely unhappy, here are some tips for you (and me!) to balance your time in the coming year. Bring on the movie marathons!

Plan, plan, plan

Make sure that you get all your necessary work for the week done. Write that out at the start of each week and plan it in your academic diary or electronic organiser. If you don’t have one, you might be surprised at how much less stressed you’d be with one!

Make relaxation time

No matter what, try to get at least 30 minutes to one hour’s real rest and relaxation every day. Whether it be a soak in the bath, a sit-down in the garden, or a brief date with BBC iPlayer – you need it for your physical and mental well-being alike.

Discipline yourself

If you can get your work done, then you can afford to relax. Otherwise, things might get kind of stressy!


Make to-do lists, and number each item from 1-4. 1 = urgent and important, 2 = urgent but not important, 3 = not urgent but important, 4 = not urgent and not important. After that, do all the 1s, then the 2s, and so on – it really works!

Note: make sure that at least one fun relaxing activity is top of your list every day. Your sanity is important!

Hobbies, interests and exercise

Once you have met those criteria, try and make sure you have time for at least one to three societies or sports clubs, to keep yourself fulfilled. Include time for meeting up with your friends, reading for pleasure (and this can be anything, from Freud, to Dostoyevsky, to teenage magazines), and for time spent just doing absolutely nothing. And also, get regular exercise! In whatever shape or form you want, but it will pay off, trust me.

Be flexible

If you don’t meet your work or relaxation criteria for one day, make up for it another day. Don’t let it get on top of you though!

For further tips and advice, read the golf ball and the mayonnaise jar story. It is very inspiring and will remind you what to put first in life, so be sure to write down what your golf balls, pebbles and sand are!

Do you have more tips on how to get the work/life balance right? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Nina Matthews / Flickr

Susanna ChapmanWork vs. life: getting the balance right

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