During your time at University, placement year will undoubtedly provide the biggest change in day-to-day life as well as the greatest variety of new, yet exciting, challenges. As students, juggling numerous assignments and the workload of different modules becomes the norm. However, embarking on a full-time working week of 8-hour days is an entirely different ballpark to the life schedule you are used to at University. Speaking from experience, juggling your new working life with assignments, a social life and remembering to do your washing and food shop each week can be a real challenge. But it is a challenge that is definitely achievable with the right approach. Here are my top tips on how to maintain a good balance between the two:
Getting a head start
I previously wrote a blog detailing how best to get a head start with your placement year assignment, which you can find here. These pieces of advice are again relevant since getting a head start and not allowing the University workload to mount up is vital in order to keep a good balance between assignments and working life. Starting your assignment early and dedicating consistent time frames to work on it throughout the year is much more manageable around your new-found busy working schedule. Leaving the entirety of your assignment until the last minute will only provide you with an unachievable, long working week, resulting in burn-out and less thought out pieces of work for submission. Whilst last-minute working may be your thing during University, when you have strict workday timings to adhere to and additional responsibilities it is not a recommended method to maintain a sustainable balance.
Little and often
Following on from my previous point, trying to schedule your assignment work with a ‘little and often’ approach is advisable. Over facing yourself with how much you endeavour to get done each week will ultimately result in increased tiredness and stress, not allowing you to reach your full potential during the working day. Similarly, allowing yourself to have too long of a break between assignment working can cause you to feel too detached from University life, lacking the drive to dedicate any time to the cause. Trying to achieve manageable chunks each week is a good way to keep the motivation there yet still allowing you to perform in your role at work and have extra time to spend on spontaneous work commitments that may arise and require extra attention. Additionally, sometimes using little snippets of time, such as your lunch break at work, to get a small amount of University work done can be a great way to ensure the majority of evenings and weekends are your own.
Discuss with your colleagues
If you are feeling particularly stressed and overwhelmed with your workload, especially if you feel it could potentially impact your work responsibilities, don’t be afraid to talk to your manager or colleagues. They will completely understand that you have University assignments to be carried out around your workday schedule and will be willing to help you in any way they can. Additionally, your colleagues can be a great source of help for your University assignments, especially if the topic you are discussing is industry related. Be sure to use their knowledge, pick their brains (when they have a spare minute) and get them to feedback on your work or ideas. Their insight may just give you that lightbulb moment you needed in order to get cracking on a section of your assignment.
Giving yourself a break from it all
Another important way to keep a good balance between your working life and University assignments is by allowing yourself to have a break from them both. You are never going to feel rejuvenated, refreshed and motivated to work if you never give yourself the chance to do the other things that you enjoy. Whether that be exercising, socialising, reading a book or even sat in bed binge-watching Netflix with a pack of cookies by your side. Your work life and your assignments are fundamental elements to your year in industry. However, don’t let your entire year be consumed by these and ensure you still make time for yourself and enjoy the new experiences the year will bring.