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So, I’m supposed to study at university? Where’s the fun in that!

iPad showing weekly calendar
Friday 29th October 09.25

I am not going to lie, I am writing this on a Thursday evening, hours before the deadline hand-in for this article. Purely because I have been swamped with the stress and expectations of mid-terms. All I know is that one moment I was running around cowgate searching for a kebab after a night out in Mash House, and the next I’m spending all my time in the ECA library trying to figure out how I’m going to do all my readings in time for my tutorial in two hours and watch this week’s lectures that seem longer than usual. 

I guess you could say that I signed up for these four years of academic work, but I don’t think it’s a crime to want a social life alongside my commitments. We all know the saying; ‘you can’t have your cake and eat it’. But I beg to differ – there is a way around this. A way to live your life, see your friends, go out clubbing and maybe binge-watch Squid Game whilst being on top of your work and not feel burnt out. 

First step, download Notion! No, this is not a sponsorship, but this free app deserves all the shoutouts it can get. If it rings a bell, you might have heard of it from YouTubers Moya Mawhinney and Unjaded Jade. This app alone has organised my entire life, from shopping and to-do lists to highly detailed calendars boasting trips to Kilimanjaro Café and society events. One of my favourite features is the page template that organises your deadlines into three categories: to do, doing, done. Making it visually clear what needs to be done and what can wait a few more days. In addition to this, Notion is connected to your Google account so all your progress that’s been noted down on your phone app is automatically transferred to your laptop and online on the Notion site. If this hasn’t convinced you to download this organisational app, you can also decorate the backgrounds of your pages with your favourite artwork or literary quote, so it feels like it was made just for you. So step into the wonderful world of Notion and watch your stressful state crumble to the power of serenity. 

Once you have your life spread out visually so that you can see exactly what you must get done, your social life can commence once again. Ease into it, do not decide that now you have a virtual calendar you can pretend it's Fresher’s Week, hopping from Garis to Subway every day and inevitably ending up in Hive. No, remain disciplined but when you find free time reward yourself the way you see fit. If you find a free slot in your day spend it recharging, have a nap if you are tired (there’s no need to tire yourself out more by not listening to your body). Read that book or listen to that podcast you’ve been meaning to pick up again, spend your free time taking care of yourself. It’ll ease those stressful moments as you are still maintaining your sanity by tending to your own happiness. 

Please don’t forget about your friends, it is so easy to shut everyone out and get into a never-ending cycle of work, eat, sleep, repeat. Studying with friends is a good way to keep in touch when neither party have a lot of free time, bonus points if you go for coffee in the library and have a mini catch up. Next, try stepping outside of the flat for a reason other than to walk to your tutorial or the library. Go for a walk round the Meadows with a friend, as it’s the central point for practically everything it’s the perfect spot to have a quick or long chat. 

Yes, it’s true you came to Edinburgh to get a degree, you mustn’t forget to take care of yourself. Organising your life using Notion and other apps like Google Calendar can help visualise and sort all your commitments into categories of what is important right now and what can wait. Don’t wallow in your own pit of stress, I know that’s easier said than done but trust me once you organise all your assessments, society events and coffee dates life and university will feel enjoyable once again.

Image Credit: Jess Bailey via UnSplash