Reading week? A week to go back to the family home, sleep all day and catch up on the latest shows on Netflix? Whilst this may seem a very appealing option, students who do this all week will find that they are no better off when they go back to university and are likely to set themselves back further. What can you do with the lecture-free week to get ahead, whilst also making sure you have time to relax?

Create a week planner

Start by drawing up a timetable for the week. You can quickly note anything that you have already committed to and where you have free time available. This will offer you a realistic idea of when will be the best times to do university reading/work and when you may want to catch up on some extra hours of sleep!

Set a daily alarm

Whilst there is no reason why you can’t treat yourself to a lie-in, it is worth getting into a routine for the week to make the most of your days. If you don’t have an alarm set to wake you up in the morning, there’s a definite danger of oversleeping and wasting several hours each day.

Read and study

This has to be the main focus of the week as it’s the reason why your university has agreed to give you this time. Your lecturers may provide you with a list of what they want you to read, if so make sure you head to the library ahead of reading week to access the books in time. You should then consider how much you need to read and the number of books you can get through during the week, so you can plan your time effectively. It is also important to make sure that you are taking in the information that you are reading, so making notes as you go can be a helpful way for jogging your memory and referring to at a later stage. Reading week is a good opportunity to catch up on any outstanding work and those tasks which you haven’t completed. Add these to your timetable to get yourself in good place for the return back to university.

See friends and family

Getting the right balance between studying and relaxing is crucial to a productive week. For example, you may want to head home for the week so that you can spend time with friends and family in between doing university work. It can be helpful to share your timetable with your family and that way they can see what you have planned each day and when it may be best to do things together. Everyone has different working styles, but it is often a good idea to focus on getting your work done at the start of the day and then you can reward yourself afterwards.

Undertake work experience and volunteer

Depending on the amount of time you have available, reading week can also be a good time to pick up additional shifts if you have a job, undertake work experience or volunteer. Charities and organisations can really benefit from a couple of hours of your time and it’s great for your CV too. But make sure that you don’t do too much and tire yourself out!

For your next reading week, rather than wasting it sleeping all day and binge watching TV, use it effectively to get on top of all of your university work, see friends and family, add to your CV and truly relax!