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  • AUP Students' Union

How to balance Art, Life and Work (Part Two)

Beth Evans, Student Union President

Friday, 8th March, 2024



1. When in doubt, podcast it out


I used to feel a bit pressured to be making progress, academically, all of the time. Firstly, that's not a healthy thing to do but also... to relax whilst being stressed about the idea of studying all of the time isn't really relaxing. So, I needed a way to feel as though I was being productive whilst also letting myself prioritise life-things and rest.


I did this (and still do) by listening to podcasts. Not only are they fun, engaging and offer a different way to absorb information than reading articles but they are also a great way to diffuse studying into anything else you need to do. On Sundays, I would do all of my chores whilst listening to a podcast and then when my chores were done, my studying was done for the day. The rest of the time was mine.


It doesn't have to be podcasts though, any way that you can find a way to tack a fun task on to a boring one, is the ultimate productivity hack. Sure, there are more things you need to do to research for a project but Sundays are for pajamas and lie-ins and cups of tea. That said, feeling productive will make it easier to let yourself rest and resting is an important thing to do!


2. Embrace the tangents


In my eyes, tangents are the coolest thing ever - at least, one of many cool things, because I also think ladders are pretty neat. Conversations can be direct and concise and sometimes they need to be but other times talking yourself round and round and round is a great thing to do too. That's how you build a spiral, right? When you stretch a spiral out, you have a lot more line to work with than you would if you had just drawn a circle. There is value in that, even if it means you're left with excess material, because now your partway through a project you never even meant to start.


Not everything needs to be done with the intention of being useful. So don't worry about talking in the most eloquent way, don't rush and take the quickest route to the point you were meaning to make. Take the fun route, climb up hills, jump in puddles; let your conversations be an experience, not only a task. You will see more flowers taking the long way around (unless the shortcut is through a flower farm but for that analogy, let's pretend it's not).


3. Life is not a reward for working


I touched on this at the end of the Part One blog post, but drinking water, eating lunch and getting enough sleep are not things that you have to earn. You are entitled to them all of the time, forever! There would be times when I realised I'd been forgetting to drink water, especially when I was working on my dissertation or installing my Final Major Project, and once I realised this, there would be days where the only task I put on my mental to-do list was to make sure I was staying hydrated. Sometimes you have to make things that seem really simple your priority, and that is valid all of the time!


Make time to eat proper meals, fill up your water bottle, have a nap and talk to the people you love. All of those things are so important and all the rest of it can come later.


4. Negative space is a positive thing


In a drawing, there are two things - the line that makes up the drawing and the empty space around it that makes the drawing nice to look at. At first glimpse, the line is the drawing, but when you really think about it, the negative space is just as important! When you have life and work and art to balance, it is really easy to think about all of the things you have to do. Those are the lines that make up the drawing, but it's important to float around in the negative space for a while too.


Put the pen down, stop drawing lines and do literally anything else! .Trust that your time away is also an important part of the process. Tap out when you need to. You've marked the page, you'll be able to find your way back.


5. Quiet Hobbies


It can be confusing when you turn your hobby into a career, or when the things you do in your downtime are the same things you do at University. The edges get blurred and you're not sure what's work and what's play. That's where quiet hobbies come in.


Quiet hobbies can be loud, like playing the guitar. It doesn't actually matter what the hobby is, as long as it's not one that you have to shout about. You don't monetise it, you don't make social media content out of it, you don't even have to tell your friends about it. it doesn't get assessed, or exhibited. It is just yours and it is just for fun. This can help re-instill some balance into your routine, and give you an activity to do in the evenings that actually feels like winding down.


Remember that regardless of how many things you're doing, or how close you are to finishing any of them, you are doing a good job and you are worthy of good food, good sleep, being hydrated and having fun.



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