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Managing your time effectively is one of the biggest challenges for new university students. University can be a lot less structured compared to school or college, often with fewer formal classes to attend (although it depends on your subject). You need to be able to manage your own time in order to complete your assignments, review material, and revise for exams.

To make the most of the time you have, you can use a range of techniques for good time management. If you’re a first-year student, you can benefit from some of the tips we’ve put together to help you manage your time effectively.

Optimise Your Environment

The first thing you can start with is making sure you’re in the right environment to study. There are plenty of different places you can work when you’re at uni, which give you options depending on what you prefer. You could choose somewhere public like the library, or you might prefer to be somewhere more private like your own room.Wherever you choose to work, try to remove any distractions. You might do this by finding a quiet corner of the library, turning off your phone or putting it on silent, and making sure you’re not watching TV or anything else. Ask your housemates and friends to allow you time on your own without distracting you. Some people find music helps to block out distractions, but others might find that music is distracting in itself.

If you’re in your room, you could decorate it so it’s a calming environment for studying. Plants can have a calming effect, for example, so you might find they help you to concentrate if you’re allowed them.

Struggling to get things done? Try a change of scenery to see if it helps you.

Weekly Planning

Getting organised is one of the most helpful things you can do if you want to boost your productivity. When you’re organised, you don’t waste time trying to figure out what you should be doing or flicking from one activity to another. Weekly planning will help you to lay out what you need to do, which lectures, seminars, or labs you have to attend, and how you can fit your work around other activities. Sit down at the beginning or end of the week to map out your plan for the coming week with a timetable or a list of things to do.

Weekly Reviews

Weekly reviews are excellent for reinforcing anything you’ve just learned. They give you a chance to go over the subjects you’ve covered during the week. You can take a look at notes you’ve taken or any extra material you might have been given, including slides, documents, or printed information. Set aside some time at the end of each week, or at any point in the week that you feel could be a good time for a review. Just an hour or so reviewing what you’ve learned can help you to clarify anything you don’t understand and remember the lessons you’ve covered.

Track Your Time

Managing your time can be tricky if you find it hard to keep track of how much time has passed. Do you know how long it takes you to write 500 words? Can you judge when half an hour has gone by? Tracking your time can help you to work out how to use it more effectively.
If you need help with tracking your time, there are apps that can help you to do it. Some examples of apps you can use include Toggl, HourStack, and Eternity. You can use these apps not just to track your time but to organise and prioritise tasks too.

How to Prioritise Tasks

Prioritising your workload can be really tough if you’re finding it difficult to manage your time and productivity. When you have a lot of things to do with different deadlines, it’s not always easy to know what you should be doing first. Do you prioritise by deadline, workload, difficulty, or something else? One of the best approaches can be to do your hardest task first. Once you have the most difficult task out of the way, the rest of your work can feel like a breeze. Your most difficult task won’t necessarily be the longest. It could be the thing that you find most challenging or hard to understand.

Setting Realistic Deadlines

Setting deadlines is a must if you want to be productive and manage your time. You will have deadlines set for you for some of your work, but it’s important not to leave everything until the last minute. Setting your own deadlines will help you to manage your workload more easily, especially if you have several pieces of work due at once. It’s important to be able to manage your own expectations when you set deadlines. Don’t be too optimistic about how you’re going to use your time, but be realistic about how long something will really take you to finish.

Making Use of Time Blocking and Breaks

Time blocking is a smart technique that can help you to be productive. Everyone has a different attention span, but research has shown that we can probably only concentrate for about 90 minutes before we need a break. It’s especially important to take breaks if you’re using a screen so that you can give your eyes a rest. You’re not going to get square eyes, but you could start to feel the strain after a while. Try blocking your time and taking regular breaks. 90 minutes of working followed by a 15-minute break is a good place to start, but you can find your own rhythm.

The Importance of Self-Care

Remember the importance of taking care of yourself if you want to be productive. It’s difficult to be at your best mentally if you don’t care for yourself physically. Regular exercise, good nutrition, and plenty of quality sleep all contribute to a healthy mind. It’s easy to stay active while at university. Join a sports club or go to the gym to keep fit on your own or with others. Eating cheaply and healthily is possible too. Try some cookbooks or recipe blogs designed for students and eating on a budget for ideas. You should try to keep to a good sleep schedule too, even if you have some late nights.

By managing your time well, you can be more productive and reach your goals in your first year at university. Once you’ve completed your first year, you’ll feel ready to tackle the rest of your course.

Stress is something that affects us all in different ways. As a student, one of your major sources of difficulty is likely to be your academic workload. Other things can cause you to feel overwhelmed too, including relationships, money, and work. However, there are healthy ways to deal with stress and manage it so that it doesn’t affect you negatively.

What Is Stress?

We often think of stress as something negative, but it’s not always a bad thing. A certain amount can motivate us, push us to work hard, and build resilience. It is a response to things in our life that we can usually control, and which we can take steps to manage better. But stress can also become overwhelming and difficult to manage. It can cause feelings of anxiety and make it difficult to achieve what we want, instead of pushing us to work hard.

How Do Students Experience Stress?

Students can find that they are affected by stress in numerous ways. It’s natural to feel somewhat stressed when you’re at university. You have academic pressure, plus you might be managing various other issues that make your experience at uni even harder. Nearly half of students in the UK feel stressed by their course, although exactly how much varies by institution.

How to Recognise Academic Stress

When you’re feeling stressed, you might react in a few different ways. It might make you want to avoid things, or you might find it difficult to get things done. You can be physically affected by these feelings too, experiencing symptoms of anxiety such as an increased heart rate or headaches. Or you can experience emotional and psychological symptoms, from feeling panicked and anxious to finding it difficult to sleep.

How to Manage Stress

Stress is to be expected when you’re at university, but if you’re finding it overwhelming, there are ways to manage it. With the right techniques, you can make sure that it doesn’t affect you too much. You can even use small amounts of pressure to your advantage to help yourself be more driven.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is an excellent method for managing stress. People often feel anxiety because they are overwhelmed by thoughts and feelings about the past and future. Perhaps you’re worried about an essay that wasn’t marked too highly or about an upcoming exam. Mindfulness aims to get you focusing on the here and now, so you can keep calm and take things one step at a time. If you want to practise mindfulness, you might find that a guided mindfulness session is helpful. You can use an app or find a video or podcast online to guide you through your practice.

Get Physical

Frequent exercise is great for helping you deal with stress. When you exercise regularly, it helps you to process feelings of worry and anxiety through a physical outlet. There are lots of ways to be more active, and you don’t have to go to the gym if you don’t want to. You could join a sports club, go for a run, do some yoga in your room, or attend an exercise class. But your uni gym can also be great value if you want to make use of it.

Connect with Others

Spending time with other people makes stress easier to handle too. When you spend time with others, it gives you the opportunity to forget about your worries and focus on other things. Alternatively, it can be a good outlet if you feel like having a moan or you want to talk to your friends or coursemates about the things that are making you worried. It can make you feel less alone to learn that other students are also experiencing the same problems.

Manage Your Time Effectively

Stress can overwhelm you if you’re struggling to manage your time effectively. When you don’t have a handle on how you divide your time between different commitments and activities, you can find yourself having to rush to finish work or facing multiple assignments all at once. There are lots of techniques you can use to make the best use of your time. Try planning ahead and setting deadlines so that you can decide what you need to do and when in advance.

Get Quality Sleep

If you’re not sleeping well, it can have a significant effect on your stress levels. Poor quality sleep or not enough sleep can affect you in many ways, including changing your mood, making it hard to concentrate, and making it more difficult to deal with your emotions. Even though there are times when you might stay up late, whether because you’re enjoying yourself or trying to finish some work, it’s important to try and sleep well on a consistent basis. Quality sleep can tie into good time management. Try not to stay up too late too often.

Don’t Rely on Stimulants

It’s tempting to turn to substances that can keep you awake and focused when you’re stressed, whether it’s caffeine or something stronger. It might seem like the answer to your problems, but it could end up making things worse. If you’re using stimulants to help you focus, you can end up dealing with big crashes in mood and energy when they wear off. You might find that you actually end up making yourself more overwhelmed and anxious, rather than improving matters.

Avoid Procrastination

It’s so easy to fall victim to procrastination, especially when you convince yourself you have plenty of time to do something. Procrastination can also be tempting when you’re feeling stressed because avoiding your work seems easier compared to actually getting it done. However, the longer you put something off, the more pressure you can start to feel. You’re going to be under more pressure trying to get an essay written in 24 hours than you would be planning ahead and finishing with time to spare. Avoid procrastination and plan your time effectively to get your work done.

Taking steps to manage stress can help to make your time at university much more fun. Get on top of stress before it overwhelms you.

If you’re thinking of taking a gap year after finishing school, you’re in good company. Many young people decide to take a year out after school to enjoy different experiences, something which can prove very valuable for your future career.

Taking a gap year can be a fun, exciting and rewarding experience. But it’s important to make it worthwhile and not treat it as simply ‘time off’.” A future employer will want to see you did something worthwhile and didn’t simply waste a year.

If you want to make the most of your gap year, take a look at some of the following tips and ideas.

Start thinking about it today (don’t wait until Christmas!)

Planning a gap year isn’t something to be taken lightly. While you’ll want to enjoy the summer post-exams with your friends, it’s good to start putting a plan in place ready for the autumn when your friends start going to university.

Start thinking about you want to do and what you want to get out of your gap year. The longer you leave it, the less time you’ll have to make it happen.

Do your research

Most gap year plans need a lot of research, so start looking into what you want to do and how you’re going to do it.

There are a lot of fantastic gap year resources from UCAS to help you find the information you need to plan your gap year.

Speak to others who have done it

A good way to learn more about a gap year (and maybe to manage your expectations!), is to speak to others who have done it. Gap year forums are a great place to start, helping you learn more about other people’s experiences.

Talk to friends and family who may have done a gap year. They’ll be able to share their top tips as well as lessons learnt to help you make the most of your own gap year.

Take a look at gap year companies

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by gap year options, or need some help getting organised, take a look at gap year companies. Gap year companies can organise experiences on your behalf, taking care of placements, volunteer opportunities and travel – making them ideal if you’re not very organised, or you’d prefer to be in a group setting.

Make sure any gap year company you engage with is genuine. Do your research carefully and don’t hand over any money or personal information until you’re sure that you’re dealing with a legitimate company.

Make a plan

With a clear idea of what you’re going to do on your gap year, it’s time to make a plan. Your plan should include where you’re going to be and when, what you’re going to need to get there and details of any money or travel you’re going to need.

It might help to talk through your gap year plan with someone else to make sure you’ve included everything and haven’t left out any important details.

Plan your gap year budget

Preparing a budget is going to be vital during your gap year. Will you need to work first to fund your travels? What will you do with any money earned during your gap year?

Use a budget planner to help you work out how much money you’re going to need and how you’re going to juggle your outgoings with your living and travel costs.

Get organised with travel

If you’re going to travel during your gap year, then you’ll need to make sure you get organised. You’ll want to research the entry requirements for any country you intend to visit and make sure you work out how you’re going to get to each destination. Some things to think about include:

Keep all of your important documents in the cloud so that you can access them anywhere. It’s also a good idea to share your details and your itinerary with family and friends so they can help you out in an emergency.

Some top ideas for how to spend your gap year

Looking for some ideas on how to spend your gap year? Why not consider some of the following?

Volunteer

Volunteering during your gap year can be a very rewarding experience. You’ll not only get to help people in need, but you’ll also get some great experience for your CV and can meet a lot of new people too.

Experience new cultures

Gap year travels shouldn’t just be about jetting from beach to beach. Take time to experience new cultures and broaden your horizons. You can learn a lot of valuable life skills by experiencing other cultures, while getting to explore everything the world has to offer.

Learn a new skill

Want to use your gap year to learn a new skill? Whether you want to learn an instrument, a language or take a short course in something, there are a lot of skills that could benefit your university course, and your future career.

Work experience

Your gap year is also a great time to get some work experience. Interning in the industry you want to work after university could help give your CV a big boost, and help you make some important contacts.

Getting work experience during your gap year is also a good way to test the water and see if your chosen career path is right for you before your begin your studies.

Useful links

And finally, don’t forget to contact us contact us for gap year help and advice. We’re here to help.

Heading off to university marks an exciting chapter in your life. It’s an exciting time as you experience your first true taste of independence, but it can also be nerve-wracking as you move away from home for the first time.

University is all about learning new things, while getting to know yourself a little better too. With that being said, it doesn’t hurt to be a little prepared before you set off.

Take a look at our handy checklist to help you prepare for university life.

Student living essentials

What to take

The shopping list for university can feel endless. But there are some essentials you’ll need to help you settle in and adjust to life in your new place. Some of the main things to take with you include:

There will no doubt be other essentials on your list. Don’t panic if you forget something, you can always go shopping or order online.

A little cooking practice goes a long way

If you haven’t done much cooking for yourself before, now is a good time to start! Learning how to prepare some basic meals can help you stay fed and healthy while at university. Some simple university meal ideas include:

Fast food, ready meals, fancy coffees etc. will rapidly eat up your whole budget. Learning how to cook and how to shop for ingredients will help you save money and impress your new friends.

Don’t forget the practical things

Your first few weeks at university will be a bit of a learning curve, but there are a few practical things you’ll need to remember:

Finance basics

Get your finance in place

Whether you’ve got a student loan, bursaries, grants, or savings to finance your living costs, make sure you’ve got everything in place.

If you’re going to get a job while studying, start looking in advance – part-time jobs will be in high demand once fresher’s week starts.

Get a bank account in order

Get yourself a student bank account. Most high street banks offer special student accounts with great rates and incentives, so shop around to find a deal that’s right for you.

Learn how to budget and juggle your bills

Managing your own finances can be very stressful. It’s a good idea to set yourself up with a budget to help you manage all of your outgoings so you know exactly how much money you have leftover to save and to have fun with.

Make sure bills are split evenly with your housemates. A tool like Glide is perfect for bill splitting so that you only need to pay your share and not worry about everyone else.

Settling in during those first weeks

Find your bearings

Spend time getting to know your new home. From the area where your accommodation is to your University campus, it’s good to do some exploring, so you can find out where you need to be and avoid last-minute stresses during registration and your first lectures.

Get to know your housemates

You’ll meet all kinds of new people at university, starting with your housemates. Some top tips for getting to know your new housemates include:

While it can be daunting to introduce yourself to new people, you’ll find it gets easier. You never know, the people you meet during those first few weeks could end up being friends for life!

Learn to find a balance

University is a place where you’ll enjoy all kinds of experiences. But it’s important to remember that you’re there to study as well as have fun. Finding a balance is important and will mean you get to juggle your studying and your social life to help you have the best uni experience.

Some tips to help you find the right balance include:

Being prepared for university will help you ease stresses or concerns you might have about leaving home and beginning your new chapter. Remember that the Benevolent Society of Blues is here to help you if you need it. Get in touch and see how we can help.

 

The job market today is tough. There are thousands of talented applicants just like you applying for the same roles. Standing out for the right reasons from the outset of the application process is crucial to get to the interview and beyond.

A solid personal brand may be exactly what you need to set yourself up for success. Below we explore the concept of personal branding to assist you in your search.

What is a Personal Brand?

Talk about branding, and everyone thinks of logos, large corporations, and household names.

But at its most basic, branding is about making yourself memorable. It’s about the steps you take to influence people’s perceptions of a product, service, or individual.

A personal brand is all about how you promote yourself to potential employers and ensure that they see you in your best possible light.

Get to Know Yourself: What Are You Trying to Achieve?

The first step to achieving a personal brand you’re proud of is working out what you’re trying to do.

Understanding the motivations, unique experiences and contributions you bring to the table is key to differentiating yourself from other candidates.

What are Your Values?

Your values are the things that matter to you in the way you live and work. They guide your key decisions and determine your priorities. Living by your values increases self-esteem, sense of self-worth, and overall happiness with your life.

Therefore, before beginning to create your personal brand, you must consider what matters to you and how you can embody and live by your values in your working life.

Take a moment to define your career success. What motivates you? Is it money or power? Is it a balance between home and work? Is it a feeling of contributing to a broader purpose?

Many people use fulfilment and happiness as metrics for employment success. Insights about your motivations are crucial to establishing that for yourself.

Your Skills and Life Experiences

Many applicants fall into the trap of only identifying and sharing skills and expertise gained from employment. Don’t discount education and life experiences as sources of inspiration for your personal branding.

Review your career history and identify critical skills you acquired during your employment. List ways you can demonstrate said skills (we’ll look at these later).

Do the same for your life experiences. Consider expertise you developed through things like caring responsibilities, travelling, hobbies, passions, and interests.

As important as your strengths are your weaknesses. Consider aspects of your working or personal life where you’ve struggled. Are there recurring themes and can you show what actions you’ve taken to address them? Are there situations or environments where you know you don’t belong or don’t succeed?

One last and beneficial exercise for many applicants is to ask your networks how they see you, your essential qualities, strengths and weaknesses. Friends, family, former colleagues are a wealth of insight for you to tap. You may be surprised by their responses.

They say knowledge is power. You can use this fact-finding exercise to prepare yourself for what comes next. Building a personal brand that casts you in your best possible light and overcomes whatever challenges an application or interview panel throws at you.

How to Build a Personal Brand by Design

Everyone has a digital footprint. A quick Google search will reveal details of your life, including the content you share online, your networks, and any media attention you receive.

A personal brand gives a recruiter a sense of an applicant beyond an application form. A strong personal brand developed by design, highlighting your values, strengths, and expertise, is a more appealing prospect than one left to chance.

Above we gathered information about our values, work and life experiences, which we can now use to shape and influence potential employers’ perceptions of us.

Google Yourself and Review the Results

Does what’s revealed cast you in a favourable light? It’s easy to forget that social media is largely public and viewable by the masses. Would you want a prospective employer to see what you post? If the answer is no, it’s better not to press ‘publish.’ Once it’s out there, it’s out there forever.

Always Be Yourself (In Person And Online)

Keeping in mind your prospective audience doesn’t mean you should recreate yourself. There’s always a balance between casting yourself in the best possible light and appearing insincere.

A perceived mismatch between your digital personality and actions can cause you to lose credibility, so don’t ever try to be someone you’re not.

Things like a caring personality and a good sense of humour can go a long way to establishing a know, like, and trust factor with recruiters, employers, and your wider network.

Use your online content to demonstrate the positive traits, experiences, and skills you collected earlier on while retaining your humanity. Consistent personal branding is vital and means being recognisable as yourself wherever you are, whether on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or in real life.

Create a Content Plan

Getting clear on your needs, wants, and aspirations for your future is a real confidence-builder when creating content to support your vision.

Use your social media channels and blog (if you have one) to demonstrate and communicate that your personal brand instantly sets you apart from other candidates.

Consistently demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and experience in a relatable and valuable way. Speak directly to recruiters and employers in industry conversations while you do so.

Create a plan detailing when and where you intend to post, the kinds of content you’re going to share, the value you intend to impart, and the employers you’re going to target.

Demonstrate and embody your brand online and in real life, and you’ll instantly feel more confident, self-assured, and focused in your job search.

Don’t forget to use your existing network to your advantage. Employees often know of upcoming roles before they’re publicly advertised. Consistently sharing value and regularly appearing in the right people’s newsfeeds may mean you’re head-hunted or invited to apply for upcoming vacancies.

The Value of a Personal Brand

The value of taking the time to create a strong, cohesive personal brand can’t be overstated. It makes you memorable and empowers you to forge a career that aligns with your values, skills, and expertise, maximising your future prosperity and fulfilment.

Considering your wants, needs, and motivations for your next role and wider career helps you set the baseline for your future success. You’re able to make better, more informed decisions about the roles you choose to apply for and the companies you decide to approach.

Perhaps you need some support putting your plans into action?

Get in touch. We’re here to help.

 

 

 

 

Free Debt Advice – StepChange Debt Charity – Free Expert Debt Advice.

Mental Health Advice – Mental health charities and organisations – NHS (www.nhs.uk)

Student finance Advice – Student finance: What you need to know – Money Advice Service

Housing Advice – Shelter – the housing and homelessness charity

Disability Advice – Advice and support | Disability charity Scope UK

Advice for the Elderly – Care and support for the elderly | Age UK

Advice for carers – Help and advice on caring – Carers UK

Employment Advice – Acas | Making working life better for everyone in Britain

Benefits Advice – Fighting UK Poverty – Turn2us

Advice for young people – YoungMinds – children and young people’s mental health charity

Addiction advice – Honest information about drugs | FRANK (talktofrank.com)

General Advice – Citizens Advice

Samaritans – Samaritans | Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy | Here to listen

Young Adult Advice – The Mix – Essential support for under 25s

Careers Advice – Careers advice – job profiles, information and resources | National Careers Service

A formal document containing a brief personal profile followed by skills, education, and work-related experience closed off with details of hobbies and interests.
Aiming for 2 pages depending on experience, some candidates create several CV’s and use the relevant type to apply for different roles of interest. You might consider creating a cover letter to express further detail.

Must haves: (preferably in this order)

If you are a school/collage leaver, treat your CV as your personal profile, sell yourself and have confidence in your goals, skills, and attributes.

Key features of a cv:

Keep it up to date.

Tips:

 

Useful links:

Total Jobs Successful CV
Guardian CV Tips
Reed: How to write a CV