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Adulting: Skills and habits to get into before starting or graduating from university

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Graduating from university and being fully independent may seem miles away for those of you starting in September and even for some of us second-years, but it comes quicker than you expect. Before you know it, you’re thrust out into the adult world, feeling as out of place as Georgia in that olive costume (from the film Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging), and you regret not learning the necessary habits and skills to function as a proper adult. Well worry not – below is a list of a handful of those habits to help you go through uni and into the real world as seamlessly as possible.

Making your bed each morning

When I was younger I rarely made my bed. I thought ‘what is the point if I’m just going to sleep in it later?’ Now I know why. Coming back after a long day at uni to a nicely made bed and a tidy room is one of life’s greatest and simplest pleasures. It’s like walking into a hotel room each evening.

Every morning after I wake up, I make my bed and then tidy bits and bobs around my room. It doesn’t matter if I’m running late – I at least attempt to make my bed. It’s been so rewarding. I’m in a better mood when I see a neat space, I’m more productive and ‘experts’ say it leads to better sleep and decision making throughout the day.

Budgeting and planning

This is one of the most obvious, but it’s also so difficult to do. Sometimes we have the thought, ‘why budget now? Let’s blow our student loans and budget later!’ Budget now because budgeting is hard. I started a budget for this semester. It all seemed lovely, easy peasy…cut to a week ago where I had £0.11 on my card.

Sticking to a budget and exercising restrain is hard, but it’s a skill we need to learn ASAP. Limiting unnecessary spending (the beauty of unnecessary being its subjectivity) and trying to see the bigger picture of how long this money is meant to last, what essentials it need to cover, etc., is crucial for survival in the real world. Read about budgeting and get into the habit before you own your home and you can’t afford electricity because you bought Loubitons.

Side gigs/part-time jobs

Following seamlessly on, side jobs and extra income are invaluable to have and available all over Manchester. The JobShop advertises a range of roles; there’s helping at Open Days, volunteering with companies such as Debatemate or even the Content Ambassador scheme which I am writing for now! The opportunities on campus and the help is so rare – make the most of it. Taking jobs here and there to get extra money to spend on those little extras is helpful for your budget and also to teach you skills for entering the workplace. As a Content Ambassador, I now have skills in writing/content creation, writing proposals and sticking (mostly) to deadlines. This is perfect for your CV as well and helpful in the times where you do end up with 11p in your account.

Waking up early

We have all asked ourselves on many occasion “How on earth did we manage to wake up at 7 for school?” Those days seem like a distant memory and the thought of attending a 9am often sends shivers down many a spine. But somehow we did it – for many years too, and we probably will again when we enter the workplace. So we (me) need to break the 10am-12pm+ wake up habit and quickly before it becomes more painful than it has to be. No more sleeping at 3/4am.

Unless you can find a workplace that starts at 1pm (email me if you do), this bad habit needs to be broken, or better yet not developed (first–years – save yourselves).

Last but not least…

Being a responsible and functional human being

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. Don’t be the flatmate who leaves their dishes in the sink for 3 weeks and has never taken the bin out/doesn’t even know where the bin bags are. Be the type of person you would want to live with. If the thought of 5 people in a flat exactly like you repulses you, it’s time to change a few things. Cohabitation skills, respect and cleanliness will take you far.

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