Friday, 19 August 2016
How to Juggle University and Blogging
So ever since I mentioned doing more university/student life-themed posts on here, I have been receiving some questions here and there on social media about different aspects of my experience as a full time student and blogger. One of the most frequent questions I get asked from fellow bloggers but also pals is "how do you do it all?" as I also had a job on the side and juggled a few internships.
Truth is, looking back at it now, I can't believe I managed it all but with a mix of organisation, patience and setting goals I did it, so anyone can! Here are a few tips I would give myself if I was to do this all over again.
- Write up a plan
What do you want to do and achieve? Once the academic year starts, you're going to be very busy but I also think that sometimes we make things out to be worst than they are. In my case, especially on my final year, I was going in with the mentality of having 'no life' for the next however many months when really, I had time to do it all, all I needed was the effort. Once you get your timetable it might take a couple of weeks to get used to the new routine but there will be plenty of time to organise your life around it. I'm a firm believer that being busy makes you a more efficient person.
- Be realistic
I mean, you can do it all but also take in consideration the fact that you can't plan life because it won't all go the way you want it to. You can do 3 sports, blog and go to uni, but will you have any time for yourself to just chill? How do you want to use that time? The last thing you want to do is overwork yourself to the point that you want to cry. Trust me, I went there, done that, and picking yourself up from that dark hole takes a lot of energy. We can all have down days where it seems that the workload is piling up and that you're behind, but unless you leave it to the last second, you will manage to complete it all.
- Use gap hours to your advantage
I see way too many people doing nothing on gap hours, especially if they "only have 60 minutes". Mate, one hour makes a massive difference. I always tried to maximise the time I had so even if it's just answering blog emails, scheduling tweets, using Instagram and in the mid time have lunch as well, that would give me a push and more time to do other things later. Yes, having a three-hour train of free periods sucks to some extent as you're stuck in the building but why not get yourself ahead? At the same time though, if you planned on doing work later on, and you just wanna chill, there's nothing wrong with that, grab a cup of coffee, have a walk through town and free your mind from stress - just remember to actually do the work later!
- Write big and small to-do lists and use planners
This has literally saved me. I can be a very anxious person and feel easily overwhelmed by work, but the way I handled it is by splitting tasks through the week - or the month. I used a planner to mark deadlines and remind myself weekly to do a little bit of work on every subject. I would put on the side half an hour every day to reply to emails "officially", plus any extra time at the bus station or waiting for my Deliveroo order to come would be used to plan an upcoming post or organise when to do a shoot.
Most of my internships were remote or unpaid so the companies were flexible with me in terms of work hours. I would also make a point of not doing more than one or two internships per semester depending on workload as obviously I had a million other things to do so don't bite more than you can chew.
With coursework, I would do research one week, note taking the other and by the third week I was already writing up my essay, and scheduling with my lecturers when to have my work checked or asking any questions. I used tools such as Bamboo * to transfer notes or reminders (from paper to phone or tablet or laptop) and take them with me when I needed to revise or to go back to a certain point without needing to turn my desk upside down looking through papers (I am a little messy with my binders). It's essential to invest on things that will make your life easier, and in this case Bamboo helped with me with that. Now that I'm done with uni I still use it for blog post ideas and general organisational day to day tasks, so it's not something that stops being useful.
- Surround yourself with the right people
I always say "better alone than in bad company" when it comes to friendships. You don't need to cut people out of your life if that's not your style, but recognising who's not supportive or a good influence is essential. As a university student, it is especially important to realise who's lazy and doesn't want to do well, and not let yourself be dragged down. I still liked hanging out with people who barely showed their faces to class because they're fun and you can unwind with them, but I also had to draw a line and had to say "no" to parties, drinks and 3am calls when I was focusing on deadlines. It is costing you money and time to be at uni so make the most of it but also be responsible. (I sound like my mum...)
On my final year I solidified a bond with my pal Faith and she was hands down the best motivator and workaholic I know, also always supporting me with my blog. There was like a quiet competition on who was getting work done first, and we were always there to lift each other up, applying for internships together and drinking wine when we did well. This is how it should be.
- Find what work-method suits you
I always take all of my photos on a Sunday morning for example, and then spread the editing and writing up the posts on other days. Also, I don't have a set schedule. I honestly can't remember when my favourite bloggers claim to post, I just check their sites when I have free time or when I see them promoting new content. Will people really care if you "miss" a Tuesday post? Can't you upload it two days later? I just make sure I post "twice a week" but if I don't feel like it, I don't post anything and vice versa, some weeks I'll publish something almost every day. Promote old posts, do a life update, or work on quality over quantity.
- Keep in mind what are your priorities
Make a list top to bottom of the priorities you have. For me it was good grades, my relationships with family/boyfriend/friends, blog, internships and then work. If I was asked to do more hours on certain weeks when I was too busy with deadlines, I would turn down these hours for example. This didn't happen often at all, maybe once in the whole year but learn to say NO when you have to. I will admit I skipped class sometimes to catch up on work from home and then meet with someone, but that's because I always made sure I was ahead enough to be able to bend the 'rules' a little. I don't believe you need to attend every lecture and the only reason I was showing up to most was mainly because my university records attendance. However lecturers knew I was doing work and as long as I was using time off wisely that's all that mattered.
- Give yourself less time than you actually have
Okay, some of my friends think I'm a little crazy for doing this but usually if a deadline is say, the 15th of May, I would make damn sure I'm done with it two weeks ahead. That's always been a rule of mine as I never know if I'll get sick, be uninspired, or if I have to change massive chunks of essays or revise more because I missed on something. Give yourself less time, so that you can actually have more time to do it. If I wasn't already almost done with a deadline a month before the actual due date, I would literally freak out but I never allowed myself to do work the night before. In fact I can proudly say that the last time I finished a piece of work the day before the actual deadline was on my first year at college and man, I almost had a nervous breakdown...never again!
These are my top tips on juggling uni and blogging but I'd love to know how you did it/are doing it if you're a student. Unless blogging is your job, don't pressure yourself to post daily, use it instead as un outlet to relax and distract you from the stress of uni-work and revision. If you force yourself, you will stop enjoying it. And if you're starting university in September - Good luck on your next great adventure!