Organisation and time management tips

Time

When you first start university it can seem like so much is going on at once, it can be hard to get your head around it all and personally I got quite stressed! I wish that when I started uni, I had some sort of idea of how to manage my time, how to stay organised and how to deal with all the things that can get thrown at you when you first start. I thought a few tips on these things may help some of you just starting out.

It is important to get on top of time management as soon as possible as you can have so much to take in at first, you need some time to process it all before you get started. When you first start there are general talks regarding being a fresher, lectures, tutors and loads of information in the forms of leaflets, letters and flyers, don’t just put it all down and forget about it or throw it away, it might come be useful!

In the first few days, try and find an hour or two to go through everything; moving to uni is a massive thing and it’s important you try and take it all in. Have a look through everything and see if anything interests you. It’s in the first few days and weeks where groups will start up and if there is something you are interested in, you could see if others are too and make a society.

You will also get sent information regarding your lectures, or it will be handed out in your first one. They will tell you the times of your lectures, what lecturers expect from you and what you need to take with you, you don’t want to miss out on information like this as it can be really important and you don’t want to get stuck nearer the time. If you do want to hold onto all these things, which I think is a good idea at least for the beginning, you might want to think about investing in a desk tidy. You can get them for a really good price, and would fit basic notes, letters and documents, or you can get bigger ones like from Ikea for around £10 and would maybe a look a bit neater. You might want to keep all the leaflets and flyers just to refer back to when planning a night out (do you have to be up for that 9am lecture) or you might want them as a little keepsake for when you leave as something to look back on from when you first started. Something like a desk tidy would last a really long time, probably all the way through uni and then some after that, they are so useful and great for storing paperwork that might otherwise get left around.

Another place to store things like this is on a board on your wall which some halls and flats already have. You can just pin things to it and you know exactly where things are then. They’re also good for leaving little notes on to remind yourself to do things, e.g. start coursework this week, exam at 9am. Another organisation tip which might be useful is trying to make lists when you have a build-up of work. Sometimes you can get a lot put on you at once, with deadlines to meet and you may forget what work needs to be in first, what you need to etc. Making a list when you get given work can really help as you know from the beginning what you have to do and when for. Therefore you’re not panicking when you realise you have work to be in soon and it’s not done!

As well as organisation tips, I mentioned how important time management is. Even though when you first start, it’s all about freshers week and going out, it’s good to get into some sort of routine at the beginning. If you can, getting up at a set time everyday and going to bed at a set time each night (when you can) will really help. You’ll feel so much better for it and it gives you plenty of time to be getting sorted for your lectures, exploring the campus or even the town and city if you’ve moved from a different place, and you can get a good start on everything. Getting into a routine at the beginning will really help you when it comes to revising and preparing for exams. Hopefully it will mean a lot less stress as you’ll already know how much time you have each day spare to get revision done and also coursework.

How to make your accommodation feel more like home

HomeMoving to a new place can be daunting for anybody, whether you are going to university and moving out for the first time, or if you’re moving from halls into a shared house, it’s always going to be strange at the beginning. I think as soon as people move out of their first home, they realise all the luxuries they had but never really thought about, sometimes student accommodation isn’t the best and you’ll suddenly miss things like fresh bedding, homemade meals, a hot bubble bath etc.

With the summer sales on at the moment I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips on finding deals on homeware bits and pieces to put around your room, to make it feel a bit more cosy.

Everyone knows how good Primark is, you can get your full wardrobe from there for a decent price, but a lot of people forget the shop does homeware too! This is quite a recent thing but they seem to be adding more and more as the months go on as it’s so popular. There is nothing better than fresh sheets and bedding and Primark is the place to go for these things. I recently got a double duvet cover, a sheet and two pillowcases for under £15! This is great for students on a budget. They do loads of single and double bedding sets and there is something in every style so you will definitely find one that you love. Before you put it on your bed, give it a wash so it’s all nice and warm when you put it on, it feels amazing after a long day. Primark also do a range of blankets, throws and cushions.

As well as things like this, Primark also sells things like fairy lights, I saw some for £6 recently and they would look really nice around a mirror in your bedroom or around your TV and desk. Just another way of making your room feel like your little sanctuary and a place you can go to relax. I can’t count the amount of candles they sell too, tealights, big jars, little jars, anything you could want in a candle they have it, and in so many different scents. My personal favourite is the pineapple and ginger scent! All so cheap too, for a big pack of tealight candles it is only £1.50 and small jars are around 80p.

I could go on about the amount of things you can get from Primark for ages but there are so many other places too. When you’re doing your food shop, it is a good idea to look in the homeware section, these sections almost always have a sale on and they usually have a reduced section too. Asda is a great one for this. If you don’t have one nearby you can also look online as any sales will be on there too.

Fresh flowers always look nice but they don’t last very long and it can be quite costly to replenish each week. However, all is not lost! Asda sells this White Jug with Artifical Flowers, which is a perfect alternative. This would look nice on your window sill and it will last you as long as you want it! It is £12 but in the long run it will save you money and it normally isn’t too long before things go down to half price so keep checking and in a few weeks this could only be £6. Asda also has a great range of photo frames, again could be put on your windowsill, on your desk, in the living room etc. This Glass Mirror Photo Frame is £3.50 and would look nice with a family photo in to remind you of home, or maybe one of you and your friends. Little things like this just make your place feel more like home and are all little reminders. They also have a big variety of wall photo frames so if you have a lot of photos you want to store, you could get a big one to go on your wall for less than a tenner.

As university can be quite stressful and sometimes you might want to give up, a nice idea would be to put some inspirational quotes up around your home. These can go in frames like I’ve just mentioned or could stand alone next to your bed on a bedside table or on your desk, easy to see when you’re doing work then! Paperchase do postcards for 60p and these are all a perfect size to go in a frame, they have ones with quotes like ‘smile’ and ‘creativity never goes out of style’. They are all just a little bit different and add a bit of a quirky edge to your room!

The last thing you could do to remind yourself of home is create a recipe book with all homemade meals that your family used to make for you or taught you how to make. There is nothing better than being at home, having somebody else cooking for you and having a delicious meal but at university it can be hard. Having a book with all simple recipes you love, might make you feel a bit happier after a hard day, and it’s a simple reminder of your family. You can write recipes down in just a normal notebook or you can get ones from places like Paperchase, Waterstones, Amazon, that have specific sections for ingredients and a space for you to write down the method! Don’t forget to upload them all to Studentrecipes.com too!

Festival food and drink

With so many festivals going on over the next few months, as summer really starts (hopefully the weather will keep improving!) I’m sure at least a few of you will be heading to one or two. Instead of a usual checklist advising you on what clothes and toiletries to take etc., I thought a food and drink one may be helpful as you don’t always know what to expect when it comes to what food will be available and what you will be eating while you are at a festival.

At every festival there will be burger vans, pizza places, some stands do southern fried chicken, you can get paella, and there really is something for everyone. There are also sometimes stalls selling cupcakes, cookies, tray-bakes, you will be spoilt for choice and something for those with a sweet tooth. There are different companies at different festivals but you can expect to see the same sort of foods wherever you are in the country. There will also be food available for those with allergies; lots of food vans now do gluten free options or wheat free options. Everyone is catered for.

Buying food and drink while you’re there is great and I think it’s a good idea to try some new foods and see what’s on offer, but all of this can cost a lot of money so try and take a few things with you.*

  • Packet items like mugshots, cup a soups, even couscous are good options as they can all be put into a pan or mug and you just add boiling water. Couscous is always on offer at the supermarket and they also do their own value version too, you could get a few packets for less than £1 and one pack would spread out over a few people as there is always more than you think.
  • Disposable BBQs are great, so cheap and quick and easy. You can find them in all supermarkets at the moment and they’re great to stock up on and use throughout the summer. You could take a few of these with you and that way you can still have your sausage sandwiches and fry ups!
  • Camping stoves are worth the money and if you are someone who attends a lot of festivals, it will really come in handy. If you have one of these you could take a few saucepans so you can cook soup, beans etc. There are possibilities when it comes to ‘cooking’ at festivals, you just need to have a look around and get a bit of inspiration!
  • It’s a good idea to take sauces and seasoning to add to any meat you might cook or to just spice normal meals up a little bit.
  • You can get cool boxes to take with you so then all of your food and drink can be stored, it’s all in one place and it won’t go all warm and horrible while you’re away from your tent.

When it comes to soft drinks you can get mini squeezy cordials now and they are a great size for travelling and fitting in your bag. Robinsons has their own, Vimto do and supermarkets have their own versions too, they are great for just adding to water whenever you want.

For sweet things to take with you, you could try some dried fruit, this always lasts well and big pack goes a long way. You can get all sorts of fruit now in packets so whatever you like you’ll be able to find. Crisps are always great to take with you, providing they don’t get too squashed on the journey! You can buy big multipacks from all supermarkets and they’re really not a bad price for the amount you get. If you take some bread with you, you can eat as many crisp sandwiches as you want! It might be the only option if you are low on food or don’t take much with you. Usual biscuits and sweets are good to take as everyone will like them and again you can get big multipacks.

There are options when it comes to eating and drinking at a festival, some supermarkets even have a section dedicated to it during the summer of all dried foods and tins that would be suitable and quick and easy! A quick internet search gives you loads of options too if you’re still stuck for ideas!

*Make sure to check on the festival website as to whether you are allowed to bring in your own food, drink and barbecues.

Travel essentials

It’s got to that time of year where students are leaving uni, either full time or just for the summer and are heading off on holiday. If you are I am very jealous! It’s important you have everything you need packed and ready in your suitcase, here’s a checklist of things you might need and want to take with you.

Important Documents:

You need to make sure you have an in date passport, you won’t be able to go anywhere without this! You can buy passport wallets which can help with finding your passport once its in your bag or case, making it a little bit easier. When you book flights and your hotel, you should get confirmation of the booking, it’s important you that you print this out and put it into some sort of wallet, like a passport holder so everything is kept together. At least if there are any problems at the hotel or airport, you have all your documents and details together. You should also make sure you have enough money on you for the trip and have any debit or credit cards in your purse or wallet ready. You should have worked out how much money you are going to need, around when you have booked your holiday. If you go all inclusive you are likely to need less money than you would if you go self-catering as with self-catering you will be paying for all your food and drink rather than it being included.

Clothes:

When it comes to packing clothes for your case, make sure you don’t over-pack. You don’t need a huge amount of bikinis or sandals. Work out how many days and nights you’re there for and plan outfits for that many days. So if you are there for seven nights, plan seven outfits, if you’re going to be out and about all day then going somewhere different at night, you might need to pack more but there are simple ways to work out how many clothes you need to take. The same with shoes though I doubt you would wear a different pair every day, you could make sure you have some comfortable pumps or shoes for the day if you go on a trip or on a walk, flip flops for around the pool and sandals for evening outfits. You need to make sure you have enough room for underwear, swimwear and toiletries.

Toiletries:

It can be tempting for women to pack your whole makeup collection but try and cut it down to a few favourites. When you’re on holiday in a hot location, makeup sweats off anyway so there is no point packing loads of it, to then either not wear it or for it to be off within an hour because of the heat. Also when deciding what shower gels, toothpastes etc. to take, make sure you check your local supermarket and stores like Boots because they do miniature versions of almost everything. Boots do 3 for 2 on miniatures, last time I picked up a shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo and that was me sorted, you don’t need the big bottles. One of the most important things you need to pack is suncream.You can buy this while you’re there or in the airport but its always best to take even a small bottle with you and then you can get more as and when you need it.

Electrical Items:

You can take electrical items like your phone and iPod with you on the plane in your hand luggage but big things like hair-dryers and straighteners need to go in the case. They take up quite a lot of room though so work out if you are actually going to need them and if you can go without. Most hotels will have a hairdryer in the room or bathroom so there is no need to take your own. If you’re going on holiday with your friends, then one of you or a few, depending on how many of you there are, could take a hairdryer and then you could share.

Hand Luggage:

This can be where you store your paperwork and any important documents that I mentioned above. Your hand luggage is also for things that you will want or need with you on the plane, e.g. any books or magazines, any essential medication (you normally need to discuss this with the airline first), electricals like phones and iPods.

I hope if any of you are going on holiday this summer that this checklist helped! And I really hope you have a great time and take a well-deserved break after university!

Revision snacking: Brain Food

When you are revising for exams, as I imagine most students are right now, you can be tempted to go for the takeaways, desserts, chocolate, anything to get you through but as great as these things are, there are other foods which will actually get your brain going and really help with your revision.

You need to start the day off well so a quick and simple breakfast is always a winner. A few ideas are:

Fruit – It is simple but it really is good for you. Fruit like blueberries, strawberries and oranges are great and all easy to pack away if you’re eating on the go.

Wholemeal bread – Toast is something most students grab on their way out in a morning so it is always a good thing to have in! You could top it with peanut butter or almond butter, high in protein and contains good carbohydrates which will keep you going until lunch.

Porridge – This is one which takes a little bit more time than others, but it really is just minutes. This can be prepared in the microwave or on the hob and it is great for topping with fruit and/or nuts and seeds which are also great brain food! Nuts like almonds, Bazil and cashews are high in protein and so much better for you to snack on throughout the day rather than a chocolate bar.

Now breakfast is sorted, you need to plan for lunch. A lot of people choose to revise in the library so here are some quick lunch ideas, all of which can be put in a tupperware to take with you.

Simple salads – There are so many variations of salad, most which hardly take any time to prepare. One of these being a pasta salad. This is something that can be prepped the night before or in the morning, depending on how much time you have. Pasta only takes 10 minutes and it takes no time at all to prep some lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, or whatever you fancy in a salad. When the pasta is cooked, throw it all together and store in a tupperware. If you didn’t fancy pasta, you could make a salmon or tuna salad. Oily fish is a great food to be eating while revising. It contains loads of omega 3 and protein which keeps your brain functioning well. Canned sardines is a great one too! Another variation of salad is a potato salad, one of my personal favourites. Budget friendly too! Boil some new potatoes until soft (you can get a bag for under £1 in Asda and Morrisons), when cooked, drain and then mix in some mayonnaise, a little bit of salt and pepper and put into the tupperware. Meals like this slowly release energy throughout the day so you can keep on revising hopefully a bit longer than you would normally!

Sandwiches – Making a sandwich is a lot better than buying one from a shop or cafe, you can control what bread you have and what fillings you include and most of the time they end up being better than any you could buy! As I mentioned above, wholemeal bread is a good one for you so you could use this and then fill with some tuna mayo, cheese, turkey chunks or ham. You could then bulk it up with some salad.

As well as eating a good breakfast and lunch, dinner is just as important. As I mentioned in the lunch section, fish is great for your brain and there are many things you can make with fish for dinner too. You can buy it fresh from the counter in supermarkets and coat it in breadcrumbs and bake in the oven, there are so many recipes online and most don’t take much time to prepare either! If you don’t want to buy fresh you could get frozen, which nowadays come with different sauces such as sweet chilli, parsley, and butter. Better still… they all only take around half an hour in the oven. You could serve it with some veg and maybe some potatoes..

As important as eating all the right food is, staying hydrated is vital too, especially now it’s getting warmer outside! If we get dehydrated, the rate at which our brains work can slow down meaning it won’t be very efficientfor revising and remembering everything you need to for exams. The NHS actually recommends we drink around 8 glasses of water a day. Drinking water while revising will help more than fizzy drinks will.

If you are in the middle of revising for exams right now then I hope some of these tips help you and you get a little inspiration for meal ideas! Remember though that even though all of these things are really good for you, a chocolate bar won’t hurt every so often!