by Mandeno Martin, University of Waikato

What’s the secret for staying fit, eating healthy, having good skin, as well as saving money while being at Uni – without cutting out on the good stuff?
Honestly, my drained companions, there is no “secret” to keeping on top of stuff. In the case of many an average student, we let our problems all roll around. We then hope it doesn’t cluster, thus turning into our next stress wave. So, how do we avoid such calamity? A little tip I was given by my Classics teacher in high school was “Be kind to your Future Self”. What does this mean? Well, it means a planner, a routine, and a dash of dedication.

We all need to eat, sleep, de-stress in a hot shower, have social time, and work or study. We must find a balance to our goals. We must also remember that only you can make a difference to your life. Don’t blame or rely on others to drag you through your group assignments. I know planning and routines are hard to stick with. Sometimes the hardest thing can be getting out of bed to get to that 9 a.m. class. If you want to change your habits and life style you have to start with yourself!

Here is my advice to a good look on life as a student, and how to study and have lazy time (while juggling a social life, remembering to ring your dad on his birthday and keep fit-ish): Get yourself a dated planner (or make one, here’s a link to a DIY planner), mark out all your upcoming assignments and tests, then completely book out one to three days before it is due in solid block highlighter.

“What do you mean?” you say. Well, if you are like me and many others, who are habitual procrastinators, you might think “hmmm, I’ve got time” (calling it IGT, I’ve Got Time). No, friend, you don’t have time. The solid-blocking in highlighter is a visual indication to your brain that these days are busy. This busy period is for study time – so don’t try to squeeze in a lunch date with your bestie. Another pro-tip is to colour co-ordinate your paper code or subject to a highlighter colour for easier recall and organisation. If you want that A, you have to read, write and read again until you get that feeling of “yes, this is good”.

In your new planner write out scheduled times and dates of when you want to go for a gym sesh or a nice jog around the block with your flattie. Write down your parents’ or siblings’ birthdates. Have your Uni timetable glued to the front page. In a note section you can write out your expenses for the week to have a reminder of your budget. If you are going to lunch and are low on cash, St Pierre’s sushi does a “sushi of the day” for $5.70 – and it’s 8 pieces. You can also write down things like chores, upcoming events or bills. The planner will stop you from double-booking your time or forgetting what you need to do. Remember! You don’t need to fill out every day with some sort of task. You can use those days to chill or catch up with a friend.

This planner will save your life if you feel like you are drowning in endless tasks. Write down what you must do and stick to it. Do it now and not later. Be kind to your Future Self.

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