As you begin to tackle your college coursework, you’ll soon realize that the 3 or 4 credit hours for each class you are taking quickly extends to 6-8 hours per week when you account for class time, study time, and homework time. Multiply that by the number of classes you are taking this semester and it quickly becomes 18-32+ hours each week that you spend on school. With school hours equating to a part-time job and your full- or part-time job on your plate, you may start to wonder how you will ever fit it in. This can get extremely overwhelming at times, but there is a way to balance it. Keep these tips in mind as you work your way to financial stability and academic excellence.
1) Schedule your week out and add blocks of time for each task each day: Whether you use a day scheduler or Google calendar, it is important to know at all times what you need to accomplish for the week and how long you need to spend doing it. Staying on top of your priorities for each part of your student-professional-home life will keep you from double-booking, overcommitting, and under-utilizing time. Realize that a regular “routine” is not always possible, so be sure to schedule in extra “padding time” for different activities.
2) Balance course difficulty: When you have a mentally challenging course on your schedule, off-set it with a course that features something less taxing to you. Couple a writing-intensive course with a math course or elective. Take your analytical courses with creative courses so you engage different parts of your brain with different tasks. If your industry has a particular season where business picks up, try to take less challenging classes in school during those times.
3) Designate leisure time and unplug: Set aside specific times during the week where you don’t do school work or career work. Leave all devices where you receive work or school communications behind. Spend this time with significant others, friends, and family and do things that you want to do.
4) Take exercise and sleep seriously: Your health is extremely important at all ages—not just when you’re older. Make fitness and a regular sleep schedule a priority. If you don’t think you have the time or the budget for health, fitness, and sleep, you definitely don’t have the time or budget for doctor’s appointments, medication, and down time to treat/recover from illnesses. Set aside time to exercise. Your health is also a lifelong investment in yourself.
5) Learn to say “No” to lower priority items that demand your time: A popular phrase among our group of professional writers is, “Not tonight. I’m on a deadline.” If a lower priority item-like meeting up with friends that you regularly see—comes up outside of your dedicated leisure time, say “no” to the extra stress.
By having a handle on your time, you can recharge your batteries, carve out new boundaries, and create balance between the priorities you are juggling.