Creating a Routine at University: Stop Living Like a Zombie

Four weeks in to university life and still struggling to wake up at normal person times in the morning?

Me too.

As thankful as I am for a schedule that doesn’t call for me to wake up at 7:30 everyday to get to my 9am lectures, having lectures dotted around the afternoon has made it extremely difficult for me to keep any kind of regulated schedule. I have found it very stressful trying to fit in all of everything that you both want to and have to do. It’s very well thinking about all the time you’ll spend at societies, sports and shopping with friends, but you also have to schedule time for cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, studying, washing, assignments and loads more. Things definitely have a way of building up and throwing themselves at you.

But don’t worry, it’s not all bad. Thus far I’ve spent a lot of time going through the motions and just doing things whenever I find them thrown at me. However, I have found that this is not the most effective way of dealing with this new lifestyle and it can turn out to be pretty damn stressful. But persevering through my own exhaustion and the multitude of new errands in my life, I have started making some good new habits that are helping me settle into more of a regular routine. Now, I’m not saying that I’m perfect. I don’t wake up at 5am every morning to do yoga and watch the sun rise (although that is the end plan), but I am feeling less stressed, more organized, and I’m making the most of every day.

Here is pretty much how I did it and what it was that was making keeping a normal routine so difficult:

First of all, there are many reasons why you might struggle to maintain some form of routine when first going to university, so it’s not something to worry about. I came across a fair share of my own reasons for 3pm wake ups and running around the place like a mad person. Some obvious issues might be easier to guess, one example being noisy flat mates.

Yes, they are very, very real.

But everyone has their own schedule and a lot of the time this is just something that you will have to adjust to. Everyone is different and at least if you put up with their noise, they might be slightly lenient with other things in return. However, most of the time it becomes easy to just slip off to your room, put some headphones in, and catch up on some work or sleep, after you and your flat mates have settled in. But do try your best to be social for at least the first few weeks, making friends with the people you will be living with everyday for the next year is never a bad idea!

Some other things that you may not have thought about disrupting your schedule include fitting your daily life around your lectures; finding time for all of those new chores and socials that you haven’t had to schedule in before can be difficult. I found it especially hard to schedule my time in any sort of sensible manner because everything I wanted to get done seemed to be going on all at the same time. With my lectures at completely different times of the day every day, I found it almost impossible to get the small jobs done during the day. Then my evenings being taken up with societies, cooking, and going out, I did not have time for everything. But I found that by getting my jobs done in advance, when I got too busy I never missed out on anything, and by setting certain days for certain tasks, everything seemed a lot more manageable.

Then there are just the small bits and pieces that catch you off guard and can throw off your whole day. For example, if you’re planning on cooking at university and you haven’t really cooked for yourself at home before, remembering to get food out of the freezer in the morning is a killer. You’re left with no option other than takeaway for dinner a lot of the time, which is a stress in itself because you have to fork out additional money. However an easy way I’ve found to get over this is to always keep some form of non-freezer, easy meal in stock. My go-to is cans of soup, they are cheap, easy, and require absolutely no forward planning. Further to this, if you want to be super efficient, then packing a lunch the night before for your lectures the next day can save you spending money in the cafeteria and also give you one less thing to think about in the morning.

Additionally, just some other small ways of keeping track of your day include setting an alarm for the same time every morning and doing something productive, even if you don’t get out of bed for it. It gets you into some form of sleep schedule which will make you feel much better, and it helps you get some of that built up work out of the way first thing. I can also not recommend the library enough. It may seem like a chore, or pointless when you have your own room, but it’s seriously helpful to be in an environment where everyone else is working and you have nothing around to distract you. Going to the library for an hour before or after a lecture can seriously boost your productivity and it has been a life saver for me already.

When it gets down to it, everyone has a different way of scheduling their day. I find keeping everything organized in my room and leaving ‘To Do’ Post-it Notes stuck to my desk helps remind me of everything I have to do and plan ahead. But some people may use lists, reminders, or diaries to plan out their day. Honestly, any way that works for you is the way to go, There’s no right way, but as long as you plan out your day, and find time for everything you have to do, you can shake that zombie state and feel more at ease going through your day.

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