Between college, internships, jobs, and, you know, sleeping (duh), life as a twenty-something can be an extremely busy and stressful time. Some days you might even wonder how you have time to breathe or think! Although all of those things mentioned above are extremely important—you are in the best years of your life, after all—another important aspect of balancing your abundant responsibilities is having a social life. You are away from your parents, most likely for the first time, and it’s a time in your life where you get to explore who you are and the type of people you want to be around. So how do you do that when you have so much else going on? The good news is it is possible with these tips.
Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
If you are known for being constantly busy, a planner is going to be your new best friend. You are probably already pretty organized between having classes and multiple jobs, but you can use your planner to schedule a social life, too. Iris Goldsztajn, a senior at UCLA, says, “I color code my planner, and social things are pink. That way, it’s really easy to tell if there isn’t enough pink in any given week, and I can work to schedule more fun things!” Here are a few tips involving scheduling to maintain a social life and keep up with your constantly busy agenda.
Schedule lunch breaks and coffee dates
Although your day may be packed, you probably have a lunch break at some point. There is no better time to meet up with friends than during something you usually do every single day anyway! Even if it is just half an hour in the middle of the day, keeping those relationships alive is extremely important to your well-being. As well, instead of grabbing your usual cup of coffee on your way to work in the morning, plan it for a time where you can meet up with a friend. That way you can keep your normal routine to some extent but still work around other people’s schedules.
Work with a friend
If you typically stay cooped up in your apartment or dorm doing your homework, maybe try heading to a local coffee shop with a friend instead. This way you can have some company while still doing all the work that you need to do. This setup is also a plus if you have to go to the bathroom and don’t want to leave all your stuff alone. Allie Walter, a sophomore at University of Florida, says that although she is constantly working with her internship, she tries at least once a week to meet up with a friend at the local coffee joint to do work together. “This way we can both finish the stuff we need to but also socialize when we are taking breaks,” she says. It really is a win-win situation. If you need a place more conducive to studying, going to the library on campus is a really great way to make new friends. Maybe take a risk and sit next to somebody new! You never know who you might meet.
Plan an evening out at least once a week
Every week you need to make sure that you are saving at least one night to see a friend. Even if it is just for coffee or drinks, spending some time with real people outside of the classroom or office is extremely important. For example, Jazyme Jackson, a sophomore at Boston University, has “Empire Wednesday” every week with her friends to watch Empire and hang out. “We bring snacks and stuff to have an hour or so to break up our schedules. If I’m loaded with work, I’ll bring it with me but I try to avoid that. We’ve been doing it for almost a year now and I love it.” Even something as small as one hour a week can keep things social! Also, switching up your routine will keep things fresh and new. If you are constantly doing the same thing week after week, there is a pretty good chance that it’ll get boring even if you absolutely love being busy and having a tight schedule.
Take advantage of the city you live in
For most places, no matter how small the city, there is always probably at least one thing going on. Even more, if it is during the summer! Find some local bands, a festival, anything, and use it as a reason to get out. Any part of your busy routine can be changed just enough to enjoy the local scene. All it takes is being a bit flexible. For Lucy Roberts, a senior at NYU, living in New York during the summer is particularly amazing because of all the social events going on. “I work full-time during the day but at night I try and relax by listening to live music and just meeting new people. It’s totally effortless because everyone is doing the same thing,” she says. A social life and work? What could be better?
Because you are so busy, you might be used to everything going according to plan. But also because your free time to socialize is so limited, you need to be able to adjust accordingly if something doesn’t go exactly as planned. Being flexible is a huge key to staying successful and having a social life. Although you may be busy, your friends may not be, or they might have other plans. So don’t just assume that everyone is going to drop everything for you the moment that you are free to hang out for once!
Busy People + Other Busy People = One Happy Life
When your schedule is always packed, it may feel like you will never have time to hang out with friends or have any social life at all. But one of the keys to making this possible is finding people who understand you and your busy schedule. Here’s how to find those people.
Find people with similar lifestyles to yours
One of the most important aspects of maintaining a social life and a busy schedule is finding people who have the same values as you. If you are very career driven, finding others who are the same allows for more flexibility and understanding. If you have to cancel a lunch date because of a work meeting that came up, find the people who will totally understand. They probably have issues fitting friendships into their life, so as long as you have a mutual understanding that you will both make time for each other somehow, it will work out. Alaina Leary, a graduate student at Emerson College, says that it’s especially important to schedule time with your SO as well if you both are equally as busy. She says, “We plan specific date nights and in-home movie nights so that we both know we can’t come home from work and just separate all night. It helps keep our quality time prioritized!” This is a great example of how people who are like-minded have managed to figure out a way to make the relationship work regardless of how busy each of them is!
Know when it’s time to walk away
One of the most important things is understanding when a friendship is not working. Although you may be flexible with your scheduling and change of plans, your friends may not be. If someone who you were once close with is constantly getting upset with how busy you are, you have to reflect on what you are gaining from the friendship if there is always negative energy.
Happiness is the most important
At the end of the day, regardless of how busy you are, the most important thing is that you are happy with your choices and your life. If you love being busy, then BE BUSY! It is your life. But with that you have to make sure that you are sane. You won’t be able to maintain a healthy social life if you are not taking time for yourself.
Allow yourself one day off each week, sans people
It is extremely important each week to take a night to do something just for you. Whether that means going to your favorite restaurant and ordering your go-to meal, or just sitting and reading a book, having that time to reflect and think about your week is very important. When you are busy you are constantly surrounded with people, oftentimes not by choice, so it is important that you enjoy some peace and quiet.
Overall, the truth is that maintaining a social life when you are always busy is hard. It means scheduling everything down to the last minute and being a stickler about time. But at the end of the day, it will make you so much happier to have a life where you are surrounded by the ones you care about as well as reaching your career/job/school goals. You really can have it all as long as you put in the effort to make it happen.