Balancing Schoolwork With Other Obligations

As students, we’re often working on multiple assignments at once. Deadlines for classes tend to overlap, and we spend some time each week figuring out how to best utilize our time for the dozens of things we have to do. This can be a harder process to figure out if you’re balancing work, extracurriculars, studying for a standardized test, as well as personal life. Sometimes, we feel that we don’t have enough hours in the day for all our responsibilities, and we end up neglecting our obligations. I have run into the same problem various times over the years. Below, I will be giving my tips for maintaining a balance in your life. 

  1. Know Your Limits

There are dozens of things we’re interested in as students: research, work, social life, sports, as well as coursework. It may feel like you can handle it especially if you’re trying to keep yourself busy, but the weeks of a steady workload can start to pile up. When this happens, it sometimes happens all at once, and those weeks can be very overwhelming. We know what those midterm weeks can be like, and the intensity of those weeks can be further exaggerated once you have multiple other responsibilities to keep track of. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take up opportunities because you’re nervous about what your schedule will look like in a few weeks, but to anticipate what a steady workflow will look like for all your responsibilities at once – do you feel equipped to handle your tasks when they’re past syllabus or intro weeks?

2. Don’t sacrifice your health

Sleeping, eating, and being socially active – these priorities often make their way to the bottom of our lists when it comes to what we have to accomplish. It’s easy – as humans, we can semi-comfortably go without these activities for some time, but over time, it can wear you out to an incredible extent – don’t underestimate the importance of these activities. I had the problem of not getting enough sleep – often sacrificing it for the sake of my studies. I would stay up late nights and get up early the next morning. (If you’re staying up late, at least give yourself time to make up for it the next morning!) It took me a couple of months to realize the constant exhaustion and toll I felt by doing this, and I tried to change my habits. I looked at the screen time on my phone (Yes, as awful as it might make you feel, I recommend using it to keep track of the time in your days and how it’s being used!) and realized that one of the reasons I might have felt that I never completed all the tasks I wanted to in a day was because I was spending a large chunk of my time on my phone. And get this – I didn’t have a lot of time to spend blocks of hours on my phone at once, but the breaks I would take while studying could stretch on for way longer than necessary, and when I checked my screentime at the end of the day, I would be shocked to see how the hours would add up. If you’re not making enough time for your health, try seeing if it’s being sacrificed elsewhere, and if the place it’s being used (like your phone, for example) is worth the trouble it’s causing. 

3. Allocate Days for Separate Tasks

If you’re working, try to schedule your coursework in a way that leaves the easier tasks for a day where you’ll be busy with work hours. That way, you can still be involved with school on a day where you might not have as much energy to. With many classes being online and asynchronous, this might be easier to do than in a traditional semester, where work hours can tend to blend into traditional school hours, and you’re left exhausted from both. Is there a certain assignment that you can leave for the weekends, or vice versa? Take a detailed look at your class schedule and make note of what kind of assignments are due weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Around what time do exams take place? When you’re trying to balance schoolwork, it’s important to keep it high on the priority list and move other obligations around if possible. Take advantage of all the time you have in the day: mornings, evenings, and nights, and plan around what best suits your needs.

I know that having a lot on your plate is often unavoidable, and I wish you all the best of luck in creating a balance that fulfills your obligations while also not being overwhelming! 

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