By: Julia Amting
College presents one of the most challenging seasons to find balance. As students, our lives are inundated with the demands of class, homework, extracurriculars, clubs, exercise, nutrition, friends and family. Not to mention all the decisions and preparations for the inevitable future that everyone keeps talking about.
It is so easy and normal to get overwhelmed by voices telling us what we should be doing as students and future professionals. It’s easy to fall into the trap of saying yes too much.
If you relate, here are some practical steps to take to decide if you have too much on your plate.
Balance: Plan your 168
What does a balanced life look like in college? Well, there are only 168 hours in a week. Twenty-four hours multiplied by seven days. A technique that helps me stay organized is laying out exactly how much time I spend on each thing and seeing how much free time is left afterwards.
For example, if I want to sleep for seven hours each night of the week that is a total of 49 hours. Next I add class, homework and food to the list as well as other commitments.
Sleep - 49 hours
Class time - 17 hours
Homework - 30 hours
Eating - 10 hours
Exercise - 3 hours
PRSSA - 2 hours
PR Central - 8 hours
CM Life - 9 hours
Social life - 10 hours
Total = 138 hours
This is a great tool for physically seeing how much is on your plate, if it’s too much or if you have room to add something new.
Write down your big goals and then divide those goals into small, actionable steps. Writing down goals, no matter how small, makes them tangible.
Decide the things that are most important to you and set them as a priority in your 168 and your to-do list. Make your to-do list before you go to bed. Knowing what you are going to do next, feeds your focus and starves your distraction.
Learn to say no
Living a balanced life means that sometimes you have to say no to new commitments or a social event. Try to not worry about disappointing people or appearing selfish, it’s important to take time for yourself.
The balanced life is one where you, not others, are in control of your time, energy and priorities. It is incredibly freeing to create authority over your time. This way, the times you say yes will ultimately be more valuable and intentional.
Take care of yourself
Create intentional space to eat well, exercise and take care of your emotional and spiritual needs. You can’t pour from an empty cup. You cannot serve others well in a leadership position or as a student if you are exhausted.
Self-care is not self-indulgence and it looks different for everyone.
Be realistic and patient with yourself
This college life is crazy and sometimes we have to concentrate more of our efforts into one area of our lives than others (ahem, finals week). Sometimes we’re off balance and other times assignments and projects require more of our time. We’re all trying to be professional and handle everything well, but the reality of life is multifaceted and messy. It’s okay to embrace those seasons and not pressure ourselves with aspirations for balance.
Although a common misconception, balance isn’t something we are designed to achieve. It’s a mentality with which we approach our days and weeks to ultimately live centered and give our best to our personal and professional lives.