How to Balance a Placement & University Assignments

AfiyahAfiyah Nadeem, On Placement, Second Year, UK Placements

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One of the lesser-known benefits of undertaking a placement that might not quite hit you until you’ve started a placement yourself is the lack of exams. This is where most of us would breathe a sigh of relief and also possibly cheer at the idea of no exam stress/revision or learning of the sort. But that doesn’t mean you’ll be free to laze about the entire year, depending on the type of placement you’ve decided to do, either study or work, you’ll have plenty of assignments to keep you on the ball.

If like myself, you’ve never really taken on a part-time job whilst being at university, you might find it a bit tricky to balance working while completing the deadlines for university. It’s easy to get trapped in the mindset of working 5 days in the week and taking 2 complete days off, this is technically possible, but when deadlines are approaching, you may need to dedicate more of your own free time to completing work. Yes, I know it sounds absolutely horrific, but if you have a game plan, there’s no reason for you to not spend more time relaxing.

Know what’s happening, when it’s happening  

The most important tip of being successful at balancing your workload is to know exactly what’s happening, when it’s happening. This means noting down all the deadlines for university and the responsibilities you have at placement, either on your phone or in a physical planner, and referring it back to it each week. It’s all well and good to write things down, but if you never act upon what you’ve written, then there’s no point of continuing to write down the important stuff. This brings me swiftly onto my next point…

Have a game plan

A game plan is another important thing, without it not many people would be successful at remembering what they have to do, even if it’s something small or mundane it’s best to note it then to forget it. This usually takes the form of a checklist of things you need to do, actionable, practical and realistic steps that will lead you closer towards completing your work. I’ll say it now, there’s no use starting the assignments a few days, or even the day before it’s due, you’ll overwhelm yourself and probably fail, let’s face it, it’s not a nice situation. Instead, planning things out week by week, checking off a few simple tasks, like doing research, reading papers, summarising papers, doing one part of the monthly log, in reality, it’s pretty easy once you break it down and actually get to it.

Reward yourself for the small wins (and for the big ones too!)

If you find it difficult to stick to your game plan of breaking down the bigger tasks into smaller ones, reward yourself for each little task you complete. This could be going out with friends, eating your favourite foods, or even retail therapy, as long as it’s in moderation, you’ll enjoy yourself. Working can be depressing, I’m sure there are a billion other things that you’d rather be doing, including doing nothing, but there’s no reason to restrict yourself, a balance can be achieved here too, working and living your life.

Be creative

This is a bit of an unusual tip, here I am trying to convince you to create a game plan to keep on top of deadlines and such, yet I want you to be creative too? Despite the fact that it’s important to spend time working, it’s just as important to give your brain a break too, especially if it’s going through stressful times, we’ve all been there, almost or perhaps even reaching the stage of burnout, and that’s the number one thing we all want to avoid. So what can you do to avoid it? Well, honestly, anything that’s not work-related. This could be drawing, writing (like the way I’m doing right now), taking photos, graphic design, experimenting with anything that lets you be creative, but that’s also enjoyable and uplifting.

These are the main tips that have had a huge impact on the way my placement year has gone, and hopefully, the way it will continue to go. I hope you implement them if they work for you and if not, find something that works for you too. I wish you all the best wherever you are in your university studies and for the future too!!

-P.S. Check out my lifestyle/personal blog Whenlifeawakens for more tips & tricks on navigating through life!! 


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