Swing straight back in to uni life

I hope you had a fantastic Christmas break.

It’s time to get back into the swing of things. No matter what balance of work and play you encountered over the hols, you need to focus on the return to uni life.

So don’t hang around. Make sure you achieve a successful return with these tips:

1. Check noticeboards, pigeonholes, e-mail, timetables, etc.

In all areas of uni life, many changes and additions could have been made since you went away. Before you forget – or before it’s too late – find out if anything has been updated. You only need to do the full sweep once and it’s unlikely you’ll find much, so it’s not going to kill you to do it.

But it may just save your skin. Who knows what rescheduling’s needed that could get in the way of your detailed revision timetable…you do have one, don’t you? 😉

Party goes into full swing - photo by halliday_uk

2. Plan the next few weeks carefully

Resist the temptation to live in ‘party’ mode 24/7. The excitement is bound to be there, as you all make your way back into familiar ways and want to make up for the weeks apart. But there will also be the upcoming exams, essay deadlines, new reading lists, and lecture/seminar preparations.

Write down what you have to do and how long each piece of work should take. Factor in some overspill time (just to be on the safe side) and see how much time you have left for anything else. If you’re lucky, you may achieve more free time than you think. With a structured plan, your free time can be even more relaxing.

If you’ve been even better and got 90% of your revision out of the way over Christmas, maybe you should plan the next few weeks with a lot of relaxation time. You need to get away from the work once in a while!

but soon got into the swing of things - photo by miss jojo

3. Pace yourself

If Christmas was an excuse to stay in bed, eat and drink to much, and generally do everything you’re not used to, you can’t expect to make a miraculous comeback the moment you return to uni.

Even if your general routine has stayed intact, a lot of your university routine will be shot to bits. There are still loads of differences between everyday uni life and everyday Christmas holiday life…

You’re not going to be thrown into the deep end as soon as you get back, even if you have exams shortly.

In your own time, take care to settle into what’s needed. If you know a few early nights are in order, put this into your plan and stick to it. If you have a great deal of research to get on with, build things up over a few days before you’re working flat out. If nothing else, you’ll be more enthusiastic about the work if you gradually work toward full speed. No point in burning out when it’s easily preventable.

4. Check the library for new books and renew your current books

The last thing you want is a huge fine. So make sure all your books are well within date.

Be one of the first in the library after the break and have a nosey at any new titles that have come in. And if you have any new reading lists, get a head start on this too. Get the first choice on books.

All libraries are different. If you’re uncertain, just ask the librarians if they have got any new books in. Some keep details of the new items, so it’s worth asking. Others put a selection of new titles out where you may have never noticed. By asking about new books, it could save you half an hour finding out that there isn’t anything new. And if there are new books, you may be able to browse a list, rather than pick needles out of haystacks…

5. Top up on stationery

With the New Year sales, now is the time to replenish your supplies. Don’t wait until you’ve completely run out of kit, get your pads and pens while they’re (hopefully) cheaper.

Running out would be bad.  You know what it’s like. You end up taking about twelve pens to exams…your main pen, a spare in case the main one runs out, a spare in case the spare plays up, one more for certain, a lucky pen, a ‘failsafe’ pen in your pocket if all the others don’t work, etc., etc.

Because the sales bring cheaper products, it’s worth browsing stuff you couldn’t usually afford. Some normally expensive organisers, folders and storage solutions can cost next to nothing and anything that makes your life and work easier can only be a good thing.

2008 - photo by Laura A

6. Buy a diary!

If you didn’t get an academic diary before you went off to uni, get yourself a standard 12-month diary now. As we’ve just entered 2008, many shops will be selling their diaries cheaply…some less than half price.

Even if you already use an electronic diary on your computer, it’s wise to get an old-fashioned diary to keep on your desk. Having a physical copy will make it harder to ignore plans and take your actions more seriously.

You may also like to buy a very small pocket diary for when you’re out and about. They can come in very useful, so long as you keep them up to date!

My advice would be to get a diary that suits you. It’s no use buying the cheapest if it doesn’t work the way you’d like. We all organise ourselves in different ways, after all.

7. Make proper use of your free time

Everyone has a very different workload at this time of year. If there’s nothing else to do and you’re bored, it’s not surprising that many people will default to surfing the net, doodling, playing games on the computer, and so on.

If you’re at a loose end when everyone else is beavering away, ask yourself two questions.

  • “Why don’t I have much work to do?” – You might be kidding yourself. Don’t be so sure that you don’t need to revise for that ‘easy’ exam. And don’t be caught out with forgetting an essay deadline or something…check check CHECK!
  • “What can I be doing in order to spend my time productively?” – It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to find more work to do. It simply gives you scope to question your actions at all times.  That’ll stop you moving toward any old rubbish without thinking.  If you question your actions each and every time you’re bored, you’ll soon realise what stuff you default to. When you do, push yourself to choose a different activity each and every time.

8. Breathe easy

Now you’re back, there’s a million things out there for you to enjoy. If you’re anything like I was, you’ll be amazed you managed without all this for so many weeks.

Time to catch up!


  1. I find that my productivity (and memory) increases very much after using a diary (or a planner or organizer) because I get to jot deadlines and events down anytime.

    And I can’t stress enough that every student needs one, especially if s/he wants to be productive.

    Plus, writing things down in the diary also serves as your “to do” list 😀

  2. That’s great to hear, pelf.

    I must admit that while I kept a pocket diary with me when at uni, I just didn’t keep it current. That’s why I emphasize the need to have ALL diaries up to date.

    I like your mention about your diary serving as a ‘to do’ list. I’ve never thought of it quite that way, but I think I’ll take that up myself now. What a great idea.

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