Everyone’s busy. We’re all so busy and important, all the time. While I believe we live in a culture where we glorify running ourselves to the ground, yeah. The truth of the matter is, most of us have a lot on our plate. So how do we strike the balance? How do we get an even amount of every component in that golden trifecta?
- Plan- Keep a calendar of all your plans and remember, you don’t have to say yes to everything at the last minute. Make sure to budget time for things like meals, laundry, and driving! We tend to forget that those small tasks take time, too.
- Work ahead- If you’re in college, you probably got a syllabus with every assignment listed on day one. If you know you have a busy weekend coming up, don’t be afraid to work a little ahead. Doing all my assignments ahead of time was how I kept up with AP in high school.
- Study dates- Best way to get some socializing in and also get some work done? Meet one of your friends at the library or a coffee shop. Sometimes when I do this, I end up talking a little more than I intended, but it’s healthy once in a while and will keep you from isolating yourself with your homework.
- Stay on a schedule- While sometimes in college it’s not possible, your body will thank you for staying on a regular schedule as best you can. My first month of college, I lived off of caffeine and slept very seldom. But when I crashed, I would really crash. Recently, I’ve realized that staying up all hours of the night to screw around on my phone or do my homework wasn’t healthy, and I’m trying to drink less coffee and go to bed at a consistent time. So if going to bed at 2am is working for you, by all means. It’s more about consistency and routine than when you go to bed or what you’re doing. Turning in at 9pm just isn’t an option for some of us…but you can do yourself by at least keeping it regular.
- Schedule in breaks- One of the things I found myself doing was scheduling in appointments and obligations whenever I saw a gap in my calendar, and forgetting that I had to factor in time for homework, errands, etc. If you leave yourself some wiggle room in the day, you’ll be able to find time to cross off those to-do’s than if you book yourself at every waking moment in your day. And, you’ll also have built-in time for naps, socializing, whatever you choose to do in the moment.
- Make the most of your study time- If you’re going to put in the time, do it right. Don’t sit there and “read” your textbook without retaining any of the material. I used to do this and give myself credit because I “studied,” but I was really cheating myself by working harder, not smarter. Jot down some notes while you read, watch the videos and do the assignments your professor posts. Make sure you completely understand concepts to the point where there’s no question whether you get it or not. When you sit down to study, be engaged. And if you can’t be engaged for a three-hour marathon study session, that’s normal. But isn’t even thirty minutes of retaining everything more beneficial than spending hours on end studying passively?
- Focus on one task- Maybe on Monday, you’re in classes from 8am-3pm. That’s your school time. And maybe on Saturday nights, you want to dedicate that time to socializing. It sounds like common sense, but dedicating a large chunk of time or maybe an entire day to work, fun, or school can help you focus in on one thing and get a lot more out of it. Our brains don’t adjust quickly when we jump from one activity to another. So if Tuesday is your school day and Friday is your work day, make a plan and stick with it. Don’t schedule your day so you’re running all over town trying to get everything done. Trust me…I know. 😉
- Live within your means- One of the most important tips I can give is that your life is not meant to be modeled after someone else’s. Meaning, you have to accept and live within your circumstances. Maybe you can’t afford to go to the school you wanted to, or your major is rigorous and requires a lot of time outside of class. Comparing your ideal balance to someone else’s who has a completely different situation from you will only make you feel frustrated. That being said, you should take my advice with a grain of salt. What’s working for me might not be right for you. So if your biggest worry is that you don’t party as much as the next guy, or your grades aren’t as good as someone else’s, focus back in on yourself and what YOU can do to make your situation better.
- Optimal timing/developing a routine- I read this tip in one of my textbooks recently. If you know a certain time of day when you learn best, plan your classes and study time around it. Likewise, figure out what time of day you like to exercise, socialize, have down time, etc. Create your routines around this. Personally, doing really active things, like online tests, working out, or socializing with large groups of people, puts my brain in a state where I need some time to calm down before I can sleep. Developing morning and night routines can help your brain and body coexist and help your day make more sense.
- Take something off your plate- I don’t care how much or how little you think you do- remove what isn’t serving you. Whether it’s something tangible- a side hustle, a relationship- or something figurative, such as a mental burden or toxic memory- take something off your plate that’s using up valuable energy. We could all use a little freedom.
I hope this was helpful, whether you’re in high school, college, or just trying to find more balance in your schedule. We tend to equate being busy with being important or “worthy,” but the truth is you are worthy of love and happiness the moment you wake up every morning, without any external validation. So curate your life based on what works for you, and the rest will inevitably fall into place.
Thanks for reading!