Routine For The Unemployed

Graduate; let me refresh your memory of an age-old struggle. It’s May. You just woke up. It’s a lovely, gray afternoon (didn’t I tell you? You’re in England. Suck it up.) and you haven’t a care in the world. You’re a new graduate, for Pete’s sake! No job to get to, no looming deadlines or revision to do. This is the life.

Who cares what time it is? Back to sleep.

I recently (two days ago, to be precise) finished all my studies at University. Four years of paying a University to do work I didn’t really want to do for a piece of paper confirming my conformity have come to an end. You might be able to tell, I have a little resentment toward my University career. However, I am thankful for one thing University gave me; my placement year.

My placement year was one of the best of my life. A real wage, working in an office and drinking coffee and making small talk right by the water cooler. Just like in the movies! Wonderful. It also gave me something which changed the way I would work forever; it gave me a routine.

Every morning, I’d wake up at 6:30am, roll out of bed, make myself a hot drink and get ready for work. I’d drive over to the office, look busy for 9 hours, and then clock out. Once I left the office, that was it. Me time. A whole evening to do whatever the hell I wanted. For me, it was more work. I got home and worked on side projects. Lucky for me, those side projects now form the majority of my portfolio. But I could just as easily have spent the evening doing other things I enjoyed. Playing Xbox, or—God forbid—watching football. The point is, I had a routine. Like a regular human being.

This was very new to me. This was something that many years of education had failed to teach me. University, in fact, taught me quite the opposite.

“Here’s your timetable. You’ve got one hour on Mondays, nothing on Tuesdays or Thursdays, six hours on Wednesdays, and fifteen minutes on Fridays. Oh, and these are all subject to change. Oh, and make some time to study yourself, too.”

I didn’t like this. Not only did I not like it, but it was a bad idea, too. Give adolescents complete control over their working schedule? Sure, what could possibly go wrong?

I’ll be the first to admit it; I missed many lectures, study groups, and lab sessions. But I was always there when free food was involved. That’s how my student life was for the first two years of my University career; turning up when I felt like I needed to, (or if there was food) catching up on what I missed by checking the lecture slides online, and somehow managing to come out the other side with decent grades. Admittedly, I was stupid.

But then I went on my placement year. And when I returned to University, it was with a fresh, suit-wearing perspective. Routine is good. It’s healthy, and it’s damn productive, too.

I won’t lie to you and tell you I then went to every lecture in the year. I didn’t. But I did, for the most part, manage to get up regularly in the morning, get to work (even if that work was side projects, and not actually University assignments), and feel good about being productive.

And now I’ve finished University? I intend to be even more thoroughly routined. Why? Because that’s how things get done. That’s how I’ll get a job. That’s how I’ll prevent myself from staying in bed until 3pm every day. That’s how I’ll make.

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