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8 Tips for Balancing School, Work, & Your Social Life in College

Suddenly it’s 6:00 am, and your alarm clock wakes you up. You get up, study for your test, and head to classes until 2:00. After that, you go to work until 8:00, do homework, try and see friends, maybe exercise, and get to bed before midnight so that you can get up by 6:00 am the following day to do it all over again. During this time, you also need to have time to eat, breathe, and stay sane. Sound familiar?

While your schedule may look a little different, about 81% of students getting an undergraduate degree also work at least part-time. Most students have to find a way to balance all of these responsibilities while also having time to hang out with friends.

Figuring out how to balance work, school, and a social life can feel daunting while in college. It can be tricky to find the balance between having fun, learning, and making enough money to make it all happen.

Everyone is different and has a different schedule, but people all over struggle with finding balance throughout their college experience.

Here are 8 tips and tricks to help you find the balance between work, school, social life, and time to take care of yourself.

1. Create a Schedule

It is hard to find the time to do everything in a day that needs to get done. Sometimes it feels like there are fewer hours in a day than there used to be, so mapping out how you will spend your time can be beneficial.

Having a schedule will help you stay on top of everything that needs to get done because it allows you to set time aside for each thing. It also enables you to know what needs to happen when, and encourages you to stay organized going into the day.

A great tip is to sit down on Sunday evenings and create this schedule for your week. While your weekly schedule will be similar, there are differences in the weeks. Maybe during finals, you need to schedule more time for studying, and during other weeks you can cut down on study time. Re-evaluating each week will help your schedule be accurate.

You should also schedule fun things. While it is essential to schedule in work, school, studying, and other responsibilities, you should also plan your movie night with friends, time to work out, meal times, and time you can take for yourself. Scheduling all of these things will help make sure you accomplish and balance everything.

2. Find a Way to Organize Your To-Do List

For some people, the satisfaction of physically crossing something off a list is enough motivation to complete the task. For others, a physical list isn't the best way to stay organized.

Finding a way that works for you to organize the list of things you need to accomplish in a day will help you keep everything planned. Keeping everything organized and knowing what you need to accomplish can help you ensure everything gets done that needs to.

There are a lot of apps, planners, lists, and other organization tools you can use to help you stay organized. Find what works for you and your list, then stick to it!

3. Learn to Say No

It can be tempting to always say yes. Maybe someone needs help moving, a friend needs dinner, an extra credit opportunity, a chance to pick up an extra shift, a party with friends, and so many others.

Every day there is a chance to add something more to your plate. Often, these are good things that would be fun, beneficial or just a good thing to do. Saying yes to everything is tempting, especially when you experience real FOMO (fear of missing out), but saying no may help you balance everything else.

Saying yes to every single opportunity that comes your way can end up with you feeling burnt out and exhausted. It can also leave you a full to-do list with nothing checked off.

Learning to say no is an important skill to develop. It is okay not to do everything, not help everyone, and not go to every activity. Learn to say "no" so you can better balance the things you have said "yes" to doing.

4. Be Aware of Unhealthy Stress

To some extent, stress is normal and even a good thing! Feeling a little stressed about your paper helps motivate you to sit down and do it. Pressure can help you feel the need to accomplish the tasks on your to-do list.

But, there is also unhealthy stress that hurts your performance. It is essential to be aware of these feelings and learn what to do when you feel them. There are some specific things that mentally healthy students do. It is wise to take some time and figure out what you can do to manage your unhealthy stress.

5. Set Time Aside for YOU

Sometimes amid the million things to do and balance, you overlook one of the most important things—yourself.

You should do your homework, study, work, and spend time with friends in a day, but if you aren't taking care of yourself, none of those things can happen. Just like on an airplane, they tell you to put on your oxygen mask first and then help those around you. To balance everything, you first need to make sure you take care of yourself, so you have the energy to balance everything else.

Scheduling this time will help make sure you do it. Some self-care practices you may want to include in your schedule are:

  • Mediation
  • Journaling
  • Exercise
  • Reading a book
  • Calling family/friends
  • Watching Netflix
  • Going for a walk

Find the things in life that make you happy and feel recharged, and then schedule them into your day. Even if it is just 20 minutes to get outside, it can change your whole day.

Another important aspect of taking care of yourself is food. Making sure you fuel yourself with nutrient-dense food and drink enough water can help you better balance the other aspects of your busy schedule.

6. Create a Support Network

Creating a trusted, loving support network that can help you during hectic weeks is imperative to balance your school, work, and social life successfully.

Taking time to sit down and rant to a trusted friend can make a huge difference in your ability to establish balance within your work, school, and social life.

Your support network also helps remind you that you aren't alone. Balance is something everyone is working on, and it is okay if you aren't balancing everything perfectly right now. Their kind texts, calls, and encouragement can keep you going through a long day.

7. Stay Focused on the Task You're Doing

While scheduling your time is important, it won't make a difference if you don't stick to the schedule. A huge influence in helping you stick to your schedule is finding a way to stay present and focused on the task at hand.

When you head to the library to work on your paper, try to be present and focused on that paper. Don't think about the dishes you need to do, the work you have to go to in a couple of hours, or the party you are going to later this week.

Staying focused on the task you are currently working on will help you be more efficient and complete things off your to-do list.

8. Give Yourself Grace

College is a challenging and stressful time, but it can also be a time full of fun. Sometimes you may not balance everything perfectly, some things may not get done, and that's okay.

Be kind to yourself. Establishing balance is something you will work on for your whole life.

Balancing everything is daunting and complicated, especially when it feels like your attention is constantly getting pulled in a million different directions every second. Finding ways to balance everything in your life will be something you have to work on for years to come. Hopefully, some of these tips can help you figure out the best way to balance your school, work, and social life while you are in college.

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