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10th April 2024

How to have a routine when you have so few contact hours

If you find yourself with few in-person contact hours and facing challenges in establishing a routine, here are some tips to enhance your daily productivity
How to have a routine when you have so few contact hours
Credit: JP Valery @ Unsplash

If you find yourself facing minimal contact hours each week and an irregular sleep pattern due to early lectures on one day followed by a late seminar the next –  here’s some advice on establishing a more productive routine so you no longer feel like you’re floating through uni day-by-day.

Wake up at the same time each morning

Starting with perhaps the most challenging task on the list- have a consistent wake-up time every weekday. It might seem tempting to indulge in extra sleep, especially with just one seminar scheduled for Friday at 4 pm. But trust me, committing to a regular wake-up routine will benefit your overall well-being as you develop a healthier sleep pattern. Most adults require a minimum of 7 hours of sleep each night and maintaining a consistent wake-up time can enhance both your sleep quality and overall productivity for the following day.

Create a dedicated study space

Lately, I’ve changed my routine by ditching the trip back to my flat between lectures and opting to stick around on campus instead. I’ve found that exploring various campus buildings and libraries and tackling some work during these periods significantly boosts my productivity. I’ll admit, if I had headed straight back to my flat, I’d probably end up getting lost in a TikTok black hole. Finding my own study space between lectures and seminars is definitely a thing I’m sticking to for the rest of this year and all through my final year next year.

Prioritise self-care

Try and discover a hobby or join a society that brings you joy and consistently include it in your weekly routine. Whether it’s hitting the gym twice a week or attending our weekly meetings with The Mancunion student newspaper, incorporating something you love into your routine will give you a great sense of purpose. Among the noteworthy societies hosting weekly activities are the Manchester Roller Skating Society, offering skate sessions every Thursday from 8 pm to 10 pm in The Hive, and the Hiking Club, organising regular hiking excursions on Sundays to either the Lake District or Wales.

Set specific goals

Every morning, write down what you want to accomplish for that day or week. This could include completing assignments, studying for exams, or working on personal projects. Having clear goals will give you direction and motivation. I’ve gotten into the habit of writing down to-do lists every night for the following day, and it’s been a game-changer for my productivity, especially during assignments and exam season.

Having limited contact hours means that planning out your tasks for the following day can make a big difference in how much you get done. But remember, it’s important to set achievable goals. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too much work that you won’t realistically be able to complete.

Find a part-time job

While minimal contact hours may sound like a dream for medical students, let’s be honest, most of us have likely experienced boredom and found ourselves pondering activities to fill our time while sitting in our rooms. Discovering a part-time job can be an incredible way to establish a fulfilling routine in your life while simultaneously earning extra income – pretty amazing, don’t you think? Websites like Indeed offer hundreds of part-time job opportunities, so you’ll discover a perfect match for your skills and preferences.

Start volunteering

This year, I’ve embraced volunteering with the incredible charity Reach Out to make the most of my spare time. It’s been a fulfilling experience, allowing me to connect with amazing individuals while ensuring I have a meaningful activity to look forward to each week outside of my academic commitments. Plus, all the hours you complete count towards the Stellify Award- an extra thing to add to your CV when you graduate. To find volunteering opportunities here in Manchester, you can search on the Volunteer Hub.

There’s no better moment than now to start incorporating these recommendations into your daily life. Whilst having fewer contact hours may seem appealing at first, we’ve all probably experienced moments of loneliness while studying in our rooms, trying to digest lengthy readings. Remember to prioritise self-care. If you find yourself struggling with feelings of isolation due to the lack of contact hours, please reach out and take advantage of the Wellbeing services offered by the University.

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