As students I’m sure each and every one of you has had the same struggle that I have had for the last 6 years, balancing a social life, work and study, and getting it all squeezed into the limited hours of the day. Trust me you are not alone in this.
Now by no means am I any kind of expert on the matter, I have however picked up a few tips (learnt from my mistakes) in my years of study. Here’s a few that have helped me.
- The physics of productivity
As one of my favourite historical figures, Sir Isaac Newton put it; an object at rest will stay at rest, an object in motion will stay in motion. Let me explain. Once you start a project, it is much easier to keep going, starting is the hard part. Whenever I have that assignment that I just don’t want to do, I spend 2-5min just doing the heading, typing random sentences or bullet points, doing a thought dump in a word document, and then continuing just doesn’t seem that hard. Same with exercise, I don’t think ‘ok I’m going to go for a run’ because then my lazy butt will stay on that couch. Instead, I say ‘ok I’m just going to put on my joggers, I’m just going to fill up my water bottle’ then actually leaving the house doesn’t feel that hard.
- Make lists
I am a HUGE believer in list making. Make a list of all the things that are coming up in the next month. Then once you have that list, make another one, this time ranking them in order of priority. Which assignments are worth more/require the most work? What’s due the soonest? What social events are really important to you, which ones would you be willing to miss? If you work, allocate that day to work.
- Make time For you
Seriously Lauren? I have all this other stuff going on you want me to put another thing on the list? Yes, I do.
This was something I had to learn the hard way, burnout is real! Taking time for yourself doesn’t have to be time-consuming. For me, when life is busy, I use work as my down time. I know it sounds bogus, but when I’m at work I don’t think about all my other responsibilities, I just work, it’s cathartic in its own way. Whatever works for you. Meditation is also a powerful tool in a busy life. There are thousands of guided meditations on YouTube you can listen to. I usually put one on just before bed, it’s an amazing way to wind down.
- It’s okay to say no.
Again this is something I had to learn the hard way. A part of finding a nice life balance at uni is knowing when you have to say no to that party invite, or to that extra shift, or that extra thing that you really just can’t squeeze in even if you want to. I know, FOMO is real, but you’ll thank yourself later.
- Set small daily goals
Be realistic in your day to day goals. If you tell yourself you need to get 10,000 words of that assignment that’s due in 3 weeks done tonight, chances are it’s not going to happen, and then you’ll be beating yourself up for not meeting that goal. Again I’ve been there and it’s not fun. Make a list at the beginning of each day (I know, again with the lists!) of all the things you need to do, down to just ‘go to class’ you won’t believe how satisfying it is to cross things off! Once you’ve tasted the satisfaction of putting a dirty big line through a task, you’ll be hooked!