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Balance between studying and free time

Miha Bernjak, International Student Ambassador at Graz University of Technology, guides through a few steps that will help you balancing studying and free time and achieve your goals. (Image Source: hd3dsh – AdobeStock)

For many students, finding the right distribution of work and spare time can be quite a task. Miha Bernjak, international student at TU Graz, is writing this blog post because he was one of those students.

For anyone who has got ten minutes to spare, I assure you, reading this blog post will reward you with more than just getting those ten minutes back.

Variety of Starting Positions

The first thing worth mentioning is that the topic I’m going to be writing about is very diverse because it is highly dependent on each and every one of your personal life situations, goals and preferences. Therefore I’m going to structure this blog in such a way that it can be used as a universal source to which everyone can fall back on at any point of time in their studies. Without further ado, let me guide you through a few steps that will help you find the right balance between studying and free time.

How you will find your study and life balance depends on your personal life situation. (Image Source: vege – Fotolia.com)

Setting your goal(s)

This step is the most essential one, as it provides a clear path from where you are now to where you want to be some years from now. Not only that, but this step also opens up a wide spectrum of opportunities, with the help of which you can achieve those goals. You just have to choose the best one, and by the best I mean the one that best suits your personal life. As already mentioned before, everyone has their own daily occupations, some of you might be professional athletes, musicians, party lovers, others maybe have a side job and have to go to work etc. All of the above plays an important role in your lives which is absolutely okay, but for a brief moment I want you to forget about that a little bit and just focus on setting out your goal, for instance; I want to be done with my degree on such-and-such a date.
Forgetting about everything else that is going on in your life might sound strange at first glance, but by doing so, you have done one crucial thing right: prioritized!

For a brief moment just forget about what usually occupies you and focus on setting out your goal. (Image Source: 8957978-by-Tobias-Machhaus – AdobeStock)


Once your goals are all set, you can move on and start thinking about how to achieve them, which in other words means planning. Here I would recommend writing down three things:

  1. Your goals
  2. Your class & work schedule,
  3. Your free time activities.

When your goals are all set, you can move on and start thinking about how to achieve them.
(Image Source: pattilabelle – Fotolia.com)

But that’s not all, you will also have to take into account two additional things many people tend to forget about while planning their daily life, which are:

  1. Understanding the difference between listening to a lecturer in a lecture and efficiently studying at your home desk,
  2. Expecting the unexpected.

For both of these afore-mentioned key points you will have to plan additional time in order to really make sure that you have covered everything. Paying attention in class and sitting at your home desk full of papers next to a cup of coffee are two separate things, however they are connected to each other, but purely through knowledge. Expecting something that you cannot foresee is something that everyone should learn for one simple reason: to minimise the chances of not meeting a specific deadline. Here I can give you two tips:

  • “A stitch in time saves nine”, which is an idiom used for saying that it is better to solve a problem now, rather than leave it until later when it may be more difficult to deal with.
  • Always have some time reserve, because you never know when a friend’s message will pop up on your phone, saying “come and join us for a few drinks”.

There is more than just one way to the top

After you are done planning, you should have a brief picture of how your life will be on a daily basis. Luckily, from this point on, there are a countless number of possibilities which will lead you to where you want to be. Unfortunately, this involves giving up some spare time on things that are less important. But this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case, which leads me to another important topic: efficiency.

Once you have a rough idea of what their daily schedule should be like, it is time to start thinking about how to make it more efficient. (Image Source: Rido – Fotolia.com)

Efficiency and time management

The majority of people tend to mix up the two very important terms efficiency and time management, thinking that they are the same thing. The way I look at it, efficiency is something that indirectly manages your time and creates more room for other things that your heart desires. I said indirectly because it’s something you should work on if you want to optimize your time distribution. Having said that, it strikes me as a good idea that, once you have a rough idea of what your daily schedule should be like, now would be the perfect time to start thinking about how to make it more efficient.
Another thing worth mentioning is that everyone has different capabilities and is studying at a different pace. So don’t rush it, just be patient and accept the knowledge you have now. Perfecting the concept I propose in this blog post can be challenging but it will drastically change the balance of that scale you saw at the beginning of this blog.

Some last advice to take with you

  • Don’t be afraid if sometimes things don’t go your way
  • Look for alternatives
  • Always keep your goal in mind
  • Have your priorities straight
  • Be ready to give up things that might hold you back

If sometimes things don’t go your way, stay calm and look for alternatives. (Image Source: fotogestoeber – Fotolia.com)

Hello, my name is Miha Bernjak, I am a student at Graz University of Technology (TU Graz), and I am originally from Slovenia – a neighbouring country of Austria – where I grew up and went to high school. After school I decided to pursue the study programme Mechanical Engineering at TU Graz. I am part of the TU Graz International Student Ambassador team and I enjoy helping and informing other prospective students from my home country. If you have any questions regarding studying and living in Graz, please contact me via email or social media.
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