It’s probably no secret to you by now that life involves a lot of balancing. College is a great example of this: you have schoolwork, keeping up your living space, possibly employment, activities, relationships, health, hobbies…it seems like the list could go on forever! While the areas of your life might change over time, you’ll likely find there will always be multiple, and making time to have a healthy balance of each of them can be tricky. College is a great time to explore what this looks like for you and adopt some practices that will help you balance work (or school) and your personal life.
Keep in mind this will look very different for everyone, and what works for someone else might not work for you. It’s really about finding a balance for yourself, and what that looks like will probably need to change over time. Here are a few tips/suggestions of places to start:
Make the most of your calendar.
Yes, a calendar can be great for keeping track of important dates or deadlines, but it can also be a powerful tool for planning your time. Block off times to finish big projects or when you’ll be working. If it’s helpful, put in the times you plan to exercise or hang out with friends so you aren’t tempted to fill that time with something else.
Write to do lists.
There are tons of ways you can do this — on paper, in a planner, using an app — but I have multiple to do lists for my school projects, work goals, and personal things I need to get done. Lately I’ve been using the app Todoist. You can make different lists for different projects, classes, areas of your life etc., which I love! When I look at what I hope to get done each day, I try to pull a couple items from each list.
You might find the areas of your life blend together, and sometimes this is a good thing, but it can be helpful to have some separation. An example: a lot of people who work from home find it’s hard to feel like they’re ever really away from work. Setting boundaries can help you enjoy each part of your life. Maybe this means having a space solely dedicated to work or vowing not to do homework in your bedroom. Maybe you set boundaries with your time, such as “I won’t do work after 10 pm”, or “before 10 am”, or “after 4 pm on Friday”, whatever that looks like for you. The point is setting a boundary, and most importantly, holding yourself to it.
Have some barrier activities.
You might find it helpful to have an activity that breaks up the different parts of your life. Some people like to exercise, take a shower, or change their outfit at the end of their work day. Having a ritual can help your body and mind transition into your personal time.
Learn to rest.
I’ve found at some points, the most productive thing you can actually do is rest. Sometimes this is exactly what you need to be able to approach whatever you’re doing next as your best self, whether that’s a clear head to crank out a paper or the emotional reset to be the best friend you can be. Rest can look like calling it a night and finishing something the next morning or taking a 20-minute nap. I’ve had to learn what real rest looks like though. It’s tempting to scroll through social media or watch an episode of a show when “taking a break”, but we all know how easy it is to get sucked into spending more time than we’d like on that, not to mention it usually doesn’t help you feel more rested. Take a couple minutes and truly take a break by relaxing, closing your eyes, going for a walk, stretching, etc.
In order to have balance between the different areas of your life, there are two things I’ve found to be essential: intentionality and discipline. Make the most of the time you spend working so you don’t find it eating its way into your hobbies and personal time. Avoid distractions when doing your schoolwork so you can get it done and truly enjoy the breaks you take with your friends. This goes for your personal life too. We all have to spend some time doing things we’d rather not, but strive to fill your life with things you find fulfilling. For all this to work, you have to be disciplined. You can make a schedule of how you’ll spend your time, but if you don’t actually stick to it, you won’t experience the benefits. Make adjustments as needed, but try to to meet the goals and keep the boundaries you’ve set for yourself. I think you’ll find this leads you to a fuller life you’re happier living.
Photo Source: Unsplash | Jeremy Thomas