There’s a certain stereotype surrounding university, in that all students are supposedly stuck in a never-ending cycle of partying, avoiding lectures and refusing to embrace some of life’s most basic necessities – cooking, cleaning, sleeping and so on.
About eight months ago, I started getting into the kind of routine that feeds this running joke – my sleeping pattern was virtually non-existent, I missed nearly every contact hour for an entire semester, fell into a less-than-ideal financial situation and started to put on weight. Net result? Repeating a year of university and trying to do it all again, the right way.
There’s a point to all this, and it’s not self-indulgence, or to gather pity – it was self-inflicted, after all – but something as simple as getting a routine has gone a long way to making amends, and could be made to help in a whole host of less-extreme situations.
I’m not going to start by saying ‘make a routine, and stick to it religiously’ – that’s a common trap. Doing something routinely just means frequently, and definitely allows for a post-night out hangover day with movies and your favourite menu items from Domino’s.
The first step – sort out that haywire sleeping pattern. We all know how tempting that next episode of that series you’re watching on Netflix looks (more on that later), but resist the urge – white light, from your television or phone, before bed messes with your sleep anyway. Take the extra hour of sleep because chances are you’ll get it back in kind at the other end of the night, giving you more time to start your day properly.
Which brings us on to step two – eat well. A good breakfast containing all the right ingredients will pay dividends later in the day when you reach the fabled ‘mid-afternoon slump’ and yearn for a nap. Try not to eat too late in the evening, either – it can have a negative effect on how you sleep.
Thirdly, find that perfect work/life balance. Aim to match the hours of the day you spend being productive with the same in kind for social activities. For example, if you’ve spent three or four hours in the library cracking on with essay research, why shouldn’t you be allowed to binge watch TV in the evening with your flat-mates?
Lastly, to coin the over-used phrase of the last two years, “treat yo’self”! If you’ve made it through another long working week and fancy your favourite takeaway, or a spontaneous trip to The Hobbit (because Lord of the Rings-themed cocktails are arguably man’s greatest invention), then go for it! It gives a sense of reward and positively reinforces the entire process, making it less of a chore to follow your routine.
Does it work? Well, I’ve been in a reasonably steady routine for a month or so now, largely sparked by having to be up early on a regular basis for work over the latter part of the summer holidays. I feel less lethargic and tired. I’m up to date or even, sometimes, ahead with my university work and haven’t yet missed a lecture. My eating habits are better and I no longer feel guilty about doing nothing – at least I’ve earned it now!
So, what are you waiting for? It’s nearly Monday, after all…