This post is all about work school life balance.
You’re in college, but you’re also working. And you want to have a life, so you’re stressed out and probably spreading yourself too thin. You’re feeling all of the emotions, learning how to manage (or not manage) your time so that you get everything done.
We get it. It’s stressful and we have definitely been there. These days, it’s almost impossible to focus solely on your studies without making some money while you’re doing it. Whether you are trying to pay the rent or pay your tuition, working in college is stressful.
However, with the right tools, you can do it. You can work through the stress and remember that stress is your body preparing you for success. So, let’s look at some ways to make your life easier and re-think your approach to stress.
This post is all about work school life balance.
WORK SCHOOL LIFE BALANCE:
1. Set clear boundaries
Boundaries can be anywhere and everywhere. You might set boundaries on when you can hang out with your friends (and communicate this to them).
You might set work boundaries so that school continues to be your priority (i.e. don’t schedule them at the same time, leave work at work, etc.). You can set boundaries wherever you notice yourself straying from your goals.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in work when you need it to pay rent or get food, but that is a great time to re-evaluate your boundaries where possible. Maybe you need to take off time from school to work more, or you need to find a different, less demanding job.
Of course, it could be as simple as telling yourself that you’re in school and that’s priority. Make sure your boundaries work for you.
2. Create a schedule
Along the same lines as creating boundaries between work and school, a great way to make sure you keep those boundaries is by creating a schedule. This schedule can include literally everything you could possibly want to get done in a day.
Or it could outline the general time blocks you have during your day like class, homework, food, and work. Either way, you’ll likely want to have some type of ongoing calendar or to-do list to keep all of your homework and personal to-do’s written down.
3. Prioritize tasks
Once you have your to-do list written out (keep it on you, so you can update it in class and whenever you think of new items for it), you want to decide what is most urgent.
What assignments are due the soonest and what chores do you need to get done (like cleaning or showering). From there, you can write out an itemized schedule that will tell you exactly what you need to do and in what order based on what’s most important.
4. Learn to say no
The less time you get for yourself, the more valuable it becomes. When you only have one friend Saturday a month, you want to spend that doing only what you want to do. So, if a friends asks to hang out and you wanted to stay home and rest, you need to be honest and say no.
Say no to the coworker who asks you to take their shift when you have to study for your test the next day. Ultimately, when you say no to the things that you don’t want to do (aside from class-related stuff you have to do), you open yourself up to say yes to the stuff you do want to do.
5. Take breaks
As much as your life is all about staying on the go to finish your assignment and get paid, you need to take breaks. It’s okay to breathe and go for a walk or watch a show. The important part of taking a break is that your break is productive.
Take the time to do something you enjoy and that gives your brain a chance to relax. Going on social media is probably the easiest break to have, but it might not be the one that gives you the type of relief you need.
6. Exercise regularly
Move your body and enjoy it. You don’t need a gym, though you could certainly use your campus’s gym if it has one. All you need is to start moving. Go for a walk, turn on some music and dance, or do some yoga.
Plus, your exercise can change everyday based on what feels good to you. Strength training might be nice one day and a long walk the next day. Keep moving without guilting yourself.
7. Practice mindfulness
Get started with some basic steps like sitting alone and closing your eyes (sit up so you don’t fall asleep). Use guided meditation to help you sort through your thoughts and start practicing meditation.
Deep breathing is even easier than meditation and can help you the next time you’re experiencing anxiety. You can focus on your breathing as a way to make yourself aware of how your body is reacting to your mind.
8. Get enough sleep
Telling a college student to get enough sleep is like telling a puppy to stop being cute. We get it, but it’s still important and you still need to prioritize it to make sure you’re fully taking care of yourself.
Think of sleep as fulfilling the personal obligation to yourself. Without sleep, you can’t be your full self and you certainly don’t feel like your fullest self. It’s true that lots of college students have to learn the importance of sleep the hard way, but try not to let that be you.
So, plan for that 7-8 hours of sleep every night.
9. Eat a balanced diet
You’re allowed to eat foods that comfort you even if they’re not nutritious. But, make sure you pair that diet with some nutritious vegetables and proteins when possible. Be kind to yourself when this means getting takeout rather than cooking your own food.
You have a lot going on, which is why your diet cannot suffer now more than ever. You want to operate at your full capacity and you can only do that when you’re eating foods that fuel your body rather than take your energy.
10. Use technology wisely
You’re working, trying to do well in school for the long run, and attempting to enjoy your time in college. So, it makes that you’re using your phone as a quick break when you get a chance. If you get to class early, you’re on your phone.
There’s nothing wrong with decompressing through social media, but you want to stay vigilant of the moments when it stops serving you. Notice when it’s leaving you more down and when it takes more of your energy than it gives.
11. Delegate tasks
Along with learning when to say no, learning to delegate tasks is one of the hardest skills to learn. Much of your work and school lives are personal, so it feels wrong to ask for help when it’s your life.
Instead, think about delegating tasks with roommates, significant others, and loved ones. When you need help, ask for it. If you washed the dishes the last three weeks, ask your roommate to do it this week. Ask your coworker to close for the night so you can get home.
Clearly, you don’t want to forgo someone else’s needs for your own. So, that’s why you talk, you ask, and you learn. Figure out a way that takes tasks off your plate without overwhelming someone else.
12. Use your commute time
Commute time is driving to campus, driving to work, or even walking to campus or walking to work. If you take the bus, use that time.
Use your commute however is beneficial for you. You can listen to an audiobook (especially one assigned for class) or you can listen to a podcast for fun. Focus on self care or schoolwork.
Either way, make sure you’re spending your commute doing something that will promote a healthy work school life balance.
13. Take advantage of flexible work/school options
Ever since the 2020 fiasco and the rise of Zoom and other telecommunication apps, it’s easier than ever to go online. Not only is it easy, but it’s also common to use a hybrid or entirely remote model.
This means you could complete an entire degree online or work remotely. While you don’t have to commit to entirely online for either (we love a hybrid model), these are good options to keep in mind when choosing a school or workplace and could improve your quality of life.
14. Limit multitasking
People can’t multitask. We can shift our focus quickly enough between projects that we think we are multitasking, but we are still only switching our focus up.
Since people can’t multitask, we need to opt for long stretches of time when we get work done and find opportune ways to switch between different tasks. This means we want to group similar task together to achieve periods of deep work that ends up being more effective.
15. Use time-saving techniques
Time is money, as they say. And, when you’re balancing tuition, living expenses, and working hours, your available time is shrinking. That’s why you can use time-saving techniques like meal planning, online grocery shopping, and other types of automation.
You can carve out time on the weekend to prep lunches for the rest of your week. You can order from meal prep services like Purple Carrot. You can even order your groceries to be delivered to your door with Imperfect Foods.
16. Communicate with coworkers and professors
Reach out to your professors. Talk to your coworkers. Put time into developing relationships with these people to 1) enjoy classes and work more and 2) rely on those relationships to help you out when you need it.
It’s a good idea to reach out to a professor when you’re struggling. The worst they can say is they can’t help. Let your coworkers know you need help and ask if they’ll pitch in.