It’s a Saturday morning, you haven’t set an alarm because you have nothing to get up for – no lectures, early morning tutorials, meetings, lunches, breakfast dates. You might have plans for later, you might not. There were a few times in my first year where I woke up to the slamming of dorm room doors whilst people mulled about their own business, I turned over, and went back to sleep.
I wake up and it’s past lunch time, and I'm not fussed about this because I have nothing to get up for. I check my phone, I reply to messages, I sit on the edge of my bed and I wonder, “What am I supposed to do today?”
I like to be productive. I like to have days filled with interaction, meetings, lectures, and a bit (well, a good few hours) of revision at the end of each day, even if this keeps me up until 2am. I live for the reassuring buzz of my Garmin when I reach 10,000 steps, and for the feeling of relief when I lie down in bed after a long day.
Whilst I like to have the odd day off and I have a love for sleep like I have a love for doughnuts and churros, those Saturday’s with nothing planned filled me with dread. I’m not the only one who felt like this, so let me share how I overcame my fear.
For as long or as little as you want. I personally wanted to catch up on sleep from the past week, but just go with the flow! If being an early riser is your thing, embrace it. When you wake up, open the curtains as wide as you can, open the window as far as University or housing regulations allows you to, and breathe in some fresh air. As much as I hate to say it (because I know my dad does this same thing every morning, and this hence means I'm becoming a female version of him more and more every day), a big drink of water woke me up and helped me feel ready for anything. Sometimes, if I was feeling particularly hipster, I'd take a multi vitamin too.
Have a Brilliant Shower
Turn on YouTube or Spotify and belt out some tunes. If you don’t know the lyrics, make them up! I found that there was nothing more relaxing than some TLC and singing along to S Club 7.
Plan Something Social
Organise a coffee date, lunch or meal with someone. I would look forward to these all week, and it helped me to break up the day. And, as commonly happens in St Andrews, you'll probably end up seeing other people you know too. Allow yourself plenty of time around your meet-up -- one thing that I think contributes to loneliness, is how free we all are to do our own thing. Back at school, we were cooped up in a building with a whole year group of people that we often sat in every class with. As a result of this, friendships are forcibly built, whereas at University we have 3 separate classes, and no obligation to sit with the same people every time, when really, sitting next to a friend in your Social Anthropology class every day can become something to look forward to. Commit two hours to your friend, you don't want to cut short a coffee date that could be the highlight of your weekend.
Take a Long Walk
Or, if you prefer, take some time to go to the gym, go running or cycling. I loved to walk down to the pier, back to ABH, and to the pier again, taking all the long routes where possible. The fresh air made me feel so much more active and awake, and whilst I personally walked alone, you could always ask a friend to walk with you.
Even if you are, like me, terrible in the kitchen, bake your cake and eat it. It’s yummy, productive and you can always give some to your neighbours. If you do indeed make a cake, then don't forget about it in the fridge for several weeks (again, like me).
Say hello and smile at people that you pass by. It’s nice and might make someone’s day! Small things like stopping to ask someone how their day is going makes you appear friendly, and can also be the outreach someone needs to reassure them that they matter. To begin with this might be difficult, and appear strange to do in a society that commonly walks with their eyes glued to their phones, but I'm going to try it, and it might work for you too.
Evaluate your week, and decide what you could do more. Sleeping more, revising more, smiling more, eating a little healthier? Often, we can get so caught up in our lives that we forget to move forward, and evaluating our week can be a good step to avoiding this. Give yourself some time to think about the bigger picture and to plan ahead. What will you do differently next semester? And what can you do today that will help you achieve this?
Remember that these are just my tips for productivity, and you might find that a combination completely different to mine makes you feel accomplished. While you may need to spend your weekends finishing tutorial work or brushing up for a test, make sure you do something that lifts your spirits too, because happiness is what makes the world go round.
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