We know that working while being a university student has a lot of benefits: earning money, acquiring real-world experience, creating relationships and growing personally. Balancing both, however, can feel like a juggle sometimes. With professors imposing deadlines and bosses asking for reports, it is natural to feel like things are getting out of control every now and then. But, by making some small adjustments in your life, you can avoid losing stability and keep achieving great results both in the classroom and in the office.
Here are 8 tips that will help you achieve that balance between work, study and what is left of your personal life.
8 Tips on How to Balance Work and Study and Social Life
1. Manage your time
First and foremost, creating a schedule of your classes and work hours is crucial to meet all deadlines and avoid over-stressing in the long run. When creating a schedule, take into consideration that you need time to study and do homework; as well as free time to meet friends, exercise and relax. The schedule should serve you as a guide and sticking to it will allow you to be more productive, but you should also remain flexible. There will be times when you’ll need some extra study time, or an unexpected event may come up and you will have to reschedule.
To help you remember everything you have to do and keep track of schedule changes , you can use apps such as Wunderlist, EverNote and Trello. These apps will assist you in keeping your life together in many ways – taking notes, setting reminders, making lists, scheduling meetings and many other features that will allow you to stay on top of things.
If rescheduling is impossible then you’ll have to set priorities. An important part of balancing work and study is being aware of what is most important to you. With so many responsibilities, sooner or later you’ll have to accept that some things are going to give – and not just the laundry. With a tight schedule there’s only so much socializing and free time you can fit. You might have to sacrifice a couple of outings, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. Having a limited amount of time available forces you to select more carefully how and with whom you spend your free time, which often results in selecting more fulfilling and enjoyable experiences.
3. Focus on one thing at a time
While multi-tasking might seem like a good idea, it also increases the chances of making mistakes and feeling overwhelmed. In my experience, the most effective and successful way to get things done is by focusing on one thing at a time. That way I can give my full attention to the task at hand and avoid the feeling of “I have worked so much but nothing is done”. If you find it difficult to do one thing at a time, make a list of your tasks and order it by urgency. Apps like Todoist or Reminders can help you to create lists and stay focused while you work.
4. Commute Productively
Have you ever noticed how much time you spend moving from one place to another? If you are not driving, commuting time can be used for catching up on readings and getting work tasks done. Since I realized how much time I spend sitting in public transport, I began to take advantage of this time by answering emails or bringing a book along. While I usually try to sit on the back where there are less people, I must also say that eventually I got used to reading with some background noise. A big plus is that public transport in Vienna is usually not too loud (except for peak times and when school children commute).
Letting your boss, family and friends know about your study and work schedule will help you to maintain your commitments and adjust your schedule as necessary. When I had my first university
job, I avoided talking to my boss about my other responsibilities thinking that if I did, she would think I was not fully committed to the job. However, after months of struggling to keep up with everything I decided to talk to her about it, and to my surprise, she was very understanding and gave me more flexibility. The same applies to family and friends. If you talk to them about it, there are more likely to be comprehensive and flexible on the time you spend with them.
6. Take time off
While communicating will allow you for more flexibility, it is also crucial that you set some limits and take some time off. Just as with your schedule, be strict about your free time. If you are going out
with your friends or you are attending a family dinner, make sure to leave your phone on the side. It is very easy to get worried and distracted when you see an email popping up on your screen or get a reminder of the upcoming project deadline. Try to keep your mind off from all those responsibilities and focus on having a good time.
7. Take care of your health (physical and mental)
Having time off is also necessary so you can take care of your physical and mental health. When trying to keep a balanced life, it is common to get overly involved in a task that you ignore the headaches and stress that has been piling up for days. You don’t necessarily have to take a full day off to take care of yourself. Implementing small breaks between work to grab a coffee, having a chat with a friend or spending five minutes in a mindfulness app such as Headspace can in fact help you regain energy and be more productive. Also, keep in mind that if you are not feeling well you will not achieve the same results as when you are fully healthy.
8. Remind yourself why you’re doing this
Hopefully this won’t happen too often, but if you find yourself in a moment when you feel that things are getting out of control, take a step back and remind yourself why you’re doing this. It is normal to get frustrated over the deadliness and having the feeling that you don’t have time for anything else. But, if you decided to work and study at the same time it must have been for a good reason. Keep that mind and if at some point it feels like that reason is not enough, then reconsider your choices and make changes wherever you can.