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Lead with a list!

 

Dealing with University deadlines can be tough. Work can often build up and become seemingly impossible to complete. On countless occasions I recall spending endless hours ploughing through the masses of work which was due in the following days.

Not everybody will struggle to complete their work on time like me. I’m sure many of you will remain on top of deadlines and avoid the all night library marathon. For me and many more however, completing work on time is often no easy task. Organisation seemed to be the major problem for me. What seemed like a lengthy amount of time to hand in a piece of work often resulted in a considerable last minute challenge to get the work posted in the box.

I’m sure many lecturers tell you that it’s all about time management and how X amount of hours must be dedicated to your studies. Essentially they are correct, but I often struggled to take their advice and sometimes suffered the consequences as a result. I knew what was expected of me, I just needed a way of doing it for myself.

I distinctly remember the day I decided to do something about my time management issues. It was roughly around a week before I began my third year studies and I began to reflect on my struggle in getting to that stage. After addressing my issues I began to formulate ideas on how to deal with them. After literally a few moments of thought I came up with the idea, why don’t I start making a list? The solution was simple, why don’t I make a list of all the important things I had to do that day.

 I must admit, making a list doesn’t sound like the most advanced or appealing way of dealing with the problem and at the time I thought it would never work. The more I began to think about it however, the more it made sense. Instead of making a long dull list of all the important, hard work and time consuming things I had to do that day I decided to create a structured plan of my day that incorporated a bit of everything.

After coming up with the idea for a list I decided to give it a trial run. I must admit the initial process of making my first list and following its instructions was a highly stimulating and rewarding for me. As comical and exaggerated as this may sound I ultimately gained a sense of achievement that day which triggered those emotions.

As is the case in many new pursuits, the novelty stage can often wear off and I certainly thought this would be the case with the idea of list making. Unlike the majority of my previous attempts to motivate me in time handling efficiency however I found that my new technique was easy to stick to and quite pleasurable .

The best way of understanding the concept of my list and how it works for me is to explain how it was developed. As a combined honours student I often find it difficult to keep on top of where I am for each subject. I therefore began by noting down everything I needed to do for each individual module that week in order of due date, length and importance. I then discovered that breaking this list down again into tasks for each day would be even more beneficial.

During the breaking down process I realised that my method of list making still remained far too serious and needed more appeal. As a result I decided to break my whole day up and include small rewards and incentives to get me through the work. For example a typical day’s list would include a small working task such as “begin dissertation research- find and read… book” which would be followed by another working task “begin journalism story”. After these working tasks I would include rewards or some form of distraction from work such as “watch TV” or “make lunch”. A variation of tasks would be repeated throughout the day and I would often include a greater incentive at the end of the day if all the tasks were completed.

Also each list would be varied in relation to what work needed doing and my particular mood. At this point some of you may be thinking that I’m some kind of maniac who has adopted an unnatural addiction to list making and life structure. I must admit list making is slightly addictive, but this is not to say that I stick to them religiously and neither should you. It’s often the case that you make a list and something will come up that makes it virtually impossible to do what you’ve set out to do. Alternatively there might just be a day where you can’t be bothered or you just don’t feel the need to make a list.

At the end of the day it’s not the end of the world if your University life doesn’t run like clockwork. If you do find your struggling with University work however why don’t you have a go at making a nice informal list to guide you through the day? I gave list making a go and it worked for me, who knows it could for you too.

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Life living in

It was never my plan to move into student accommodation, and in three years that’s probably why I never have. I guess the idea never really appealed to me in the end. Living just a train ride away knowing that I could go home and not have to worry about every day troubles justified this decision.

 Whether you’ve got your heart set on moving out, have little choice in the matter or have no intention of moving out coming to a decision is hard. I can assure you I encountered the same difficulties when deciding what I wanted to do. 

I assume that many of you will have been educated on university life and the opportunities that it presents. I made it my personal target to become familiarized with the university prospectus along with similar material to try and get a head start. I will admit that it did give me some indication of life in Preston as a student. In some respects it had me excited and ready to take on the student world. Reading this stuff however still left me undecided about where to live during my time at Uclan.

 What was missing for me was advice and stories from students with first-hand experience and knowledge on life living in. In other words I wanted the grizzly details.

Some of you may be wondering where this is heading, after all it’s not as if I have ever lived in at University. Technically this is true; however during my time in Preston I have had the opportunity to stay with friends and more recently my girlfriend which has enabled me to observe and experience different ways of living as a student.

During my first year I spent a lot of time in student halls staying with friends. Many people may seem daunted by the prospect of moving into a large building full of people they don’t know. In my first visit to student halls however I was pleasantly surprised by how welcoming most people were.

It’s wise to remember that during your first year everyone’s pretty much in the same situation. Although most of my friend’s flatmates where from different backgrounds with different views I found that most of them related to the situation they were in and really bonded as housemates. I would almost go as far as to say that some were like a family. Ok maybe that is slightly exaggerating, but with the odd exception many people would make an effort to get together for things such as household meals and nights out.

I quickly found that living in Preston could be fun as well as practical. The majority of my first year was spent going out, having a good time and making the short walk to lecture first thing in the morning sincerely regretting the night before.

As I spent more time at various friends houses however I started to appreciate that living away from home had both its ups and downs. No matter what people may tell you, living away from home can be hard work. During the times when people had deadlines and were unable to go out and enjoy themselves it’s clear to see that life was a lot harder. Suddenly the reality of living independently, buying food, washing clothes, cooking and cleaning as well as managing university work could be a challenge.

 I also found that it could be a difficulty trying to adapt to new surroundings. In numerous places I have stayed during my time in Preston it has often been the case that the facilities are basic. For example most places require people to share kitchen, living room and bathroom areas. I have also found that some places have limited space and poor decoration. This was not helped in my case as I often had to sleep on the floor or on a camp bed.

 Some student halls did provide better facilities however for those who paid a little extra, but as far as I was concerned everywhere was still liveable and I had so much fun anyway the living conditions where irrelevant.

During my second year I really began to experience life living away from home for myself as I spent a lot of my time staying at my girlfriend’s rented house. This presented a new challenge for me especially as I gradually began to spend more time there, but I really feel like my time in halls helped prepare me for this.

Spending time in this house was more difficult than staying in halls in many ways. One of the problems was house maintenance. Everyone had the responsibility to pay for bills and look after the house which could sometimes be a struggle.  The house was also quite basic and this occasionally had a negative effect on me and other people.  In addition to this people would occasionally fall out and this would cause tension in the house.

On the other hand, again life in the house can be a positive experience. The cliché that everyone was a family could again be applied as a lot of the time we all had fun. Everyone contributed for essentials such as milk and cleaning products. There was regularly times where you could sit in the front room and have a good chat with someone. Also there would be occasions where everyone would get together and go on a house night out. Most importantly however is that everyone pretty much kept themselves to themselves and this often created an environment suitable for working, one which is very much needed in your final two years of study at Uclan. 

Many will have mixed views on what living in at University may be like based on the guidance here and some of you may well be put off by some of the negative aspects of student life. Before deciding against living in just yet however I would just like to point out a few things. First off, although living in can be tough the amount of fun and good times considerably overwhelms the bad ones. Also having just some experience of living in has helped me to develop essential life skills and grow as a person.  What’s even more rewarding for me though, is that even when times are tough I still have a freedom that I never had before.