With one week left of Michaelmas term, I cannot help but feel like time flew by, leaving me slightly confused and out of breath. While I will admit that being two weeks behind on my reading is not something I would count as an achievement, the very fact that I survived the toughest balancing act ever gives me a strange feeling of pride and satisfaction.
If there is one radical difference between university and high school, it is the amount of freedom and self-determination you get. Juggling reading for classes, essay deadlines and going to lectures is hard enough on its own. However, to this you can add an almost endless range of activities, both related and not related to the subject you are studying. The unavoidable result is, of course, the need to develop good time management skills and a work ethic that allows you to meet all – or at least most of – the demands of university life.
For my part, I am definitely guilty of a common rookie mistake: taking on much more responsibility than time allows. But, as ever the optimist, I decided to make the best of my predicament and actually struggle to rise up to the occasion. While scheduling is always at the heart of good time management, the truth is that it is impossible to schedule in for unexpected changes to your routine just as much as it is impossible for a single week at the LSE to pass without such an unexpected change. Things do come up: sometimes these will be problems that need dealing with and sometimes these will be short notice opportunities that you just cannot miss. As such, you need to accept that nothing is set in stone and you need to have the flexibility to change the plan as you go.
Mistakes are bound to happen! Sometimes you might prioritise a certain activity at the expense of something way more important. Sometimes you are going to invest a lot of time in something only for it to come to naught. Sometimes you will have to concede that you are so behind on your work that winter break will probably become catch-up break. However, it is all part of the process. You do your best and if you fail then you try again, keeping in mind what you have learnt. Indeed, when it comes to mastering the great balancing act that is university, there is no better formula than failing.