Everyday we are faced with choices about what is going to fill our time. Sometimes we have the ultimate decision and sometimes our to-do list is made for us. Whatever the case, it is important to set boundaries for yourself around how much time you are going to dedicate each thing. College is all about getting a degree, BUT it is also about so much more. College is a time to learn about yourself, experience new things, and learn how to live with others. So as you move through the rest of this semester and into 2018, here are some tips for learning to cultivate work-life balance:
- Make a calendar
Write down what’s important. You have to make decisions about what needs to get done and what can wait for another day. Try to map out a plan for each day, so you know what you should work on and what your time frame looks like.
- Set alarms on your phone
Alarms seriously can be your best friend. It can be easy to lose yourself in whatever you are doing whether its scanning social media or writing a paper. If you set an alarm on your phone and give yourself time segments to work on different things, you may find that you have more flexibility in your schedule and that you get more things done. The hardest part of this method is making sure you stick to it.
- Prioritize activities
Related to the first point, some people (and professors) may disagree with this statement, but NOT EVERYTHING IS WORTH YOUR TIME. Let me stress that one more time — not everything you have the opportunity to do is worth doing. This isn’t me telling you not to do your homework, but sometimes certain activities should take precedence over others. For example, studying for an exam is a little more important than attending a club meeting, and sometimes talking with a friend is more important than anything else you have going on. Be smart, but think through each thing on your to-do list and do the most important things first.
- Schedule time for play
Trust me you can’t work 100% of the time all the time. You will get burnt out and you’ll end up not doing your best work. Each day take at least 20 minutes to do something for yourself. Whether this is reading a book, scanning the internet, getting on social media, going to work out, whatever you need to do to get your mind off your to-do list do it! AND don’t feel guilty about it.
- Breathe and take breaks
Sometimes life gets a little hectic. It’s crunch time in most classes and the work (and group-work) is piling up. Don’t let this control you, similar to scheduling time for play, take a moment after between switching projects or completing work to breathe. Know yourself and take 5 minutes here and there to reset your mind, grab water, or stretch before moving on to the next thing.
Remember there are only 24 hours in a day, and you can’t be everything at once. Working on balancing life with work and school is an important thing to start practicing in college. I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have graduated from college and work full-time and they tell me it only gets harder to put boundaries on work and personal life. Learning what is best for yourself now, will help make future work-life balance easier!