If you know anybody with a full-time job, chances are you’ve heard them talk about trying to achieve work-life balance. This is something that everybody struggles to attain and maintain in their professional and personal lives, and balancing work and play is vital in helping people maintain their sanity. Guess what? It’s just as important for students to achieve balance, but balance is something that many students neglect.
Whether it’s putting school work on the back burner for an entire weekend or working non-stop for two straight days, you’re not being as efficient as you could be if you don’t have a healthy mix of school work and time for yourself.
I’ve used the weekend as an example, but here are some tips for trying to find balance every day.
Plan out your study time in advance
As a student, you often feel so overwhelmed by the amount of work that you need to do that instead of actually figuring out when you’re going to do it, you leave it to chance and say “I’ll just study whenever I have the time.” Approaching your work this way all but guarantees that you won’t be able to find the time—other things will fill up your time like getting coffee with friends, surfing the internet, and watching Netflix. You often don’t even realize that you’re filling up your time with these activities, so it ends up feeling like you have no time at all for schoolwork when you actually have plenty. Every Sunday, pull up your Google calendar, your iCal, or your paper planner (my personal favorite) and schedule out 35-40 hours of study time for yourself outside of the classroom. You don’t need to know what you’ll be working on during that time, but you’ll have it scheduled so that you’ll know when your tasks can actually get done. This is time that you’ve now marked out for yourself that can be devoted solely to your academic activity.
Allow yourself guilt-free free time
Planning out your study time also allows you to see when you have space in your schedule for recreation, and it’s crucially important that you use this time to get the coffee, surf the internet, and watch the Netflix that you used to do while procrastinating. The best part about knowing when you’ll be studying and actually sticking to that plan is that you’ll now feel like you deserve your free time—you’ll have earned it. In this way, your studying can be motivated by the free time that you know is waiting for you and your free time will help you be more productive when you go back to studying. Fitting in free time is harder on the weekdays, but you have to be sure to give yourself at least one hour a day during the week to relax away from your school work.
Your life as a student simply cannot be all recreation or all studying; the former wastes the educational opportunities that BU affords and the latter neglects what you need to feel whole and satisfied as a person. Learning how to achieve balance now in college will set you up to successfully balance your professional and personal life in the future, so try the scheduling method and watch your time open up!
Sarah Farkas blogs for Advice from the Other Side from the BU Educational Resource Center (ERC).