When I first started university, everyone told me about the mythical triangle of work-school-social life, where I could only choose two out of the three. Being naïve, I obviously didn’t believe them. But, was I wrong! It was like a snowball effect: things between the triangle would constantly come up, and I would successfully put them on the back-burner. But in this scenario, spring break/reading week would turn into playing catch up on everything. In reality, my biggest problem was that I was living by my old schedule and didn’t think to create a new one that would adapt to my new way of life. Here are some tips that I learned through years of struggling to create a work-school-life balance that can be useful to those who find themselves in a similar situation.
- Stay focused
When you have a lot on your mind, it’s impossible to focus on one particular task. If you are constantly thinking about work, or a fight you had with a friend when you are supposed to be doing your school work, that time is going directly to waste. Even though it is sometimes really difficult to remove yourself from a certain situation, learning how to do that will be the best thing you could do for yourself.
- Find what makes you happy but don’t let it turn into an excuse to procrastinate
Watching an episode of your favourite show seems like a great way to relax; except that episode can easily turn into five. Find something that helps you relax, but make sure it’s something that won’t turn into a procrastination session. There are tons of things you can start from exercise to cooking that can help you get your mind off of your problems without wasting a whole day.
- Technology can be your biggest enemy
Just put the phone away, you know better than to spend three hours on Instagram. A good way to keep your phone from distracting you until you finish your to-do list is to hide your phone somewhere far when you are studying, so that it is inconvenient for you to keep checking it every five minutes. This method can really help you to get more work done rather than staring mindlessly at a screen.
- Don’t set the bar too high
Having goals that are unrealistic can harm your mental state. Don’t stress yourself out by thinking that you have a huge number of things to do when in reality it might not be that bad. What can also help is creating a checklist, so that it is easier to visualize what needs your immediate attention and what can wait.
- Reorganize our schedule
Your schedule might have to be adjusted in order to fit your needs. Figure out when you are most productive. For me, it’s always tempting to sleep in, however forcing myself to get up early did wonders for my schedule. I heard that it only takes less than a month to make something a habit. So even if it seems really difficult to adjust your schedule, you will eventually thank yourself for it.
- Be honest with the people in your life
Do you have friends who think study sessions are really all about gossiping? Be honest, and tell them that you have work to do. At the end of the day, it’s better to be productive for a couple hours and then spend a bit of time with your friends, instead of feeling guilty and always having something else on your mind when you are hanging out with them. The same goes for work, if you can’t take on extra shifts, say so. Remember, if it’s a part-time job, your mental health is much more valuable than a couple extra dollars in the pocket money jar.
Everyone has to figure out for themselves what works and what doesn’t in terms of their work-school-social life balance.
Never forget your priorities, and if you are struggling it is also okay to ask for help.
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash