Tips for Balancing College, Work and Life
Keeping up in college is tricky enough without the extra demands of paying the bills or making sure the kids get to school on time. The good news is that with a little bit of planning ahead, it is possible to balance college, work, family and social life in a healthy way. You really can find time to study, take a break with a friend, and get the dishes washed - without losing your mind. Now, take a deep breath, relax, and read on!
Getting Your Schedule Organized
The best tool in your "getting balanced" toolbox is to get organized. If you approach all of the tasks in front of you willy-nilly, without a clear plan about what needs to be done when, then you're more likely to feel frazzled all the time. Nip the frazzle in the bud by sitting down with a calendar.
Take an evening to plug information into your calendar. Mark down those tests or paper due dates. Note work times, and meetings or deadlines you'll need to meet. Write down family events. Once you see your marked up calendar - don't panic! It may look like a lot, but remember, you don't have to do all of these things at once, and now that your full schedule is in front of you, you can begin to figure how to use your time in the smartest way.
Make it habit to check your calendar each day and look ahead, one day, one week, one month. Then look at the time you have available and prioritize what needs to get done.
When you sign up for classes, try to group them in a chunk on a couple of days, or at certain times. It's easier to get into a groove when your classes are all in the mornings, or all on Tuesdays and Thursdays, rather then spread out over the whole day or week.
Talk to your boss. She may be receptive to rearranging your hours to work better with your school schedule. You never know until you ask.
Ask for Help
You family can be your best ally when it comes to school. Ask the kids for extra help with chores, or even for reminding you about tests or papers. Maybe they can take over making dinner one night a week. Asking them to help you succeed lets them feel like they are an important part of achieving your goals. They may surprise you!
Don't be afraid to ask your family for some uninterrupted time alone to study. It can be a hard thing to ask for, but again, if they feel like a part of your team, rather than "in the way," it will be easier for them to understand that you need some quiet time. On the other hand, don't be afraid to ask your family to help you study! Kids can help with flashcards, spouses can help proofread papers, and friends can quiz you. Not only will you get in good study time, you'll also be spending quality time with loved ones.
Have a Place to Go
When balancing work and college and life responsibilities, sometimes everything can bleed into each other, and that's a surefire way to get really stressed, really quickly. It can be helpful to keep school things at school and work things at work, so that time with family and friends can be focused on them.
Have a place, a coffee shop or a table in the library where you feel comfortable studying. Always going to that particular place for studying will help you focus when you're there, make you feel as though you've accomplished some good work, and when you walk out the door, you can focus on something else.
Take Time for You
It can't be said enough - it's so important that you take time, whether it's a half-an-hour a day or a nice three-hour chunk every week - to do something that is relaxing and refreshing to you.
Read a book, exercise, go for a walk, or watch your favorite show with a bowl of ice cream. Shut off your brain for just a little while and regenerate.
Working, attending class, and trying to have a life can really take the juice out of you, even when you're excited and exhilarated about everything you're accomplishing, (and especially when you're not!) Running yourself ragged won't help you ace that final, and it won't make you great coffee date. Take that you-time, and everyone - especially you - will benefit.
Remember, you can do this! Breathe, relax, and put one foot in front of the other. You may be surprised at how much you can accomplish and how well you can accomplish it when you actively work to balance your life.