Many people struggle with achieving that elusive work-life balance. Whether you’re in school or working or both, it can be difficult to balance all the different things we have going on. Even if you’re one of the lucky ones who can focus mainly on school, you will still have errands, friends, family, exercise and other things to balance. Other people have to work part-time and take care of a house and maybe even kids. Long commutes to and from work and school can add a lot of pressure.
It can take a lot of time to figure out the tips and tricks that work for you. While some people manage to learn this stuff in high school, others only start to struggle at college or even after, when they start working full-time. Learning from others’ experiences can give us ideas on how to get it all in order.
In this video, I share my experience in finding that work-life-school balance. I wanted to use this post as an opportunity to go more in-depth into several of these tips and offer a few more.
Focus on the important stuff. Make a list of things that are important to you. Then, make another list of the things you spend the most time on. Be honest when making these lists, and then later on when we compare them. Many of us find that we can spend more time on things that we don’t really find important – say, binge-watching a TV show – rather than spending more time with our family. Look at the things you find important that you haven’t been able to find time for, and use them as an incentive for being more efficient with the things you have to do, like school tasks. We often find that we can do in an hour what usually takes us three when we are really motivated and focused.
Make your calendar your best friend. I use my phone calendar, a wall calendar, and a planner, just to make sure I am always on task. My schedule isn’t so flexible as I have to be at school at certain times as well as work shifts. So when I want to plan anything extra, there are only certain slots I can use. Having a calendar nearby makes it easier to plan things. Get used to using it and it will save you.
Schedule your leisure time. I personally like knowing I can watch NFL games on Sundays to relax. You can plan a weekly catch-up date with your best friend or even times to take a walk by yourself. Knowing you have time to have fun will help you be less stressed, rather than trying to scramble for ideas on what to do when you find yourself having free time. Making plans to relax in advance may seem counter-intuitive, but there’s nothing fun in calling friend after friend to see who is free at the last minute.
Be efficient. I work double shifts. This way, two days of work end up being the same as three days and I feel that I’m being more efficient with my time. I don’t have to go back and forth and I don’t have so much “dead” time. You can bunch up errands as well. If you know you need to buy something at a store and your friend lives nearby, try to schedule those things together to not have to make separate trips. Don’t underestimate the time you spend on commuting when you are considering your day. You can also use your commute time to multi-task. If you take the train, you might be able to read some papers for school. If you have to drive, you might be able to use that time to listen to a podcast or audiobook.
Make sure to do things to reduce stress in your life. I started playing guitar and I find it stress-reducing. Maybe music isn’t your thing, but some other form of creative expression might be – it could be journaling, writing fiction, drawing, scrapbooking, gardening, woodworking… The options are endless. Getting enough sleep, movement/exercise, and proper nutrition is crucial. While it’s tempting to live on instant meals when we’re busy and stressed, our body needs healthy food to regulate our body’s stress hormones. Take the time to cut up some fresh vegetables. Your body will thank you.
It may take some time to find the best way for you, but just keep steady in building your routine and the habits that help you get everything in order. Remember, it’s not just about how much you do or how organized your house is – you have to make sure to take care of your body and mind. When you do that, other things will fall into place.