Balancing your social, academic and work life
“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” –Robert Fulgham.
The above quote by Robert Fulgham describes perfectly how we should prioritise our interests and hobbies, but without neglecting our duties. The majority of us try to achieve as much as we can in a day, but most of the time we end up having to give up our social life if we are working or studying, and vice versa.
Being able to fit everything in one day results in creating stress and exhaustion rather than bringing us satisfaction and happiness.
I struggle a lot in keeping to my schedule. As a student, I have been: maintaining myself financially since I started University, studying a full-time degree (with a 100% attendance in my first and second year), socialising with new people, doing extra-curricular activities (such as Student mentoring, Computer Science STEM Ambassador, Residence Life Assistant, Engineering Ambassador, Student Construction Ambassador), taking parts in different societies (Engineers Without Borders, Hiking Society and Engineering Society) and also dedicating myself to my hobbies.
One of the main tricks I use is to create a weekly to-do list, where the weekend is dedicated to my hobbies and socialising, but this doesn’t work for everyone as each person is different and has different priorities.
So let’s have a look at some general tips and tricks that you can adapt to your lifestyle and rhythm!!
Get enough sleep and eat well
The main priority of every individual should be their health and wellbeing. A healthy mind and body form the basis for a balanced and harmonious life. The majority of the students don’t consider sleeping and eating well as their first priority.
Make sure you have clear ideas about what you want to achieve and what is important to you, not just at present time but also for your future. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that priorities change constantly, and so should your schedule, but don’t forget that getting a degree should be your number one priority (that’s the reason why you are at Uni!).
Keep an updated and consistent schedule
Once you have clearly identified your goals, break it into smaller pieces and try to take each step easily, but keep it consistent. Create a schedule and make it something mandatory for you to complete. Make a to-do list and set specific times throughout the week to focus on things like homework, laundry, gym etc…
Make time for yourself
Being productive and achieving your goals is important, but make sure you save enough time to de-stress and unplug at points. Dedicate time to your hobbies and enjoy some quality time doing things you like. Whether this means spending a moment with your family/friends or relaxing by yourself; it is important for your well-being to set some time aside away from your duties. Treat yourself once you have achieved your goals. This is the secret for long term success!
Study smarter, not harder
The strategy consists in having set study sessions and then allowing enough time to retain the information. Usually it’s advised to allow a couple of hours, days or weeks before re-studying the material. This requires working ahead and not procrastinating. There are numerous resources that allow you to study ahead and compare notes to past students who have taken the same modules.
Have a healthy social life and be able to say no
Socialising is part of our nature as human beings. We need human contact from time to time as it allows us to unwind from our work and develop a healthy mindset. Meeting new people or talking to your friends/family helps to distract from your problems and destress. Nevertheless, keep in mind that people can also have a negative effect on you, so choose your friends wisely; do not hesitate to cut ties with people who hurt or don’t support you when needed. Moreover, too much socialising can also have a negative effect as it will shift your focus from studying to partying.
Slow down if you need to
“Burnout” is a mental and physical exhaustion state that has a negative effect on our overall performance. It’s caused by too much stress and overworking.
Make sure you take days off from time to time when you feel overwhelmed. This will allow you to gather your energies and come back to the task feeling stronger. Some may consider it as a weakness, but in my opinion, recognising when you need help and asking for it is a characteristic of mentally strong individuals.
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