By now you’ve probably all learned that balancing a full college life can be a bit overwhelming.
Between juggling academics, jobs, clubs and other extra-curricular activities, having any time for a social life seems impossible, right? Not exactly. Although straight As and an impressive résumé are always great goals, sacrificing everything else college has to offer to achieve them could leave you with regrets when your four years are over.
There is no perfect answer for finding balance between work and play (and trust me, I am no expert), but just remember Lena Horne’s quote from the Grammy’s a few weeks ago: “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”
College is supposed to be the best time of your life, not the most stressful. So if you’re finding yourself overwhelmed or taking on too many things at once, here are a few steps that will help you simplify your life while working hard and playing harder. Hopefully I can take some of my own advice in the process.
Prioritize. This might seem like the most obvious suggestion, but it’s one that everyone takes for granted. You have to define what your priorities are. If college has taught me one thing, it is that I can do anything, but not everything. Learn to say no to excess activities that put you in overdrive.
Write down whatever it is you want to make a priority in your life, even if it is something you aren’t particularly good at balancing right now. For example, we all want to be able to hit the gym every day and make the effort to stay healthy. But in reality, it is often difficult to find a spare moment to work out or cook dinner. Anything that is important to you such as family, hanging out with friends, school and other hobbies should be added to your list. Recognizing it as a priority makes it a priority.
Set a Schedule. Now that you have defined what you want to take precedence in your life, set goals and plan it out. A simple to-do list can help you organize your life and get things done so you can have more free time. Eliminate stress by writing realistic to-do lists that you know you can complete within a certain amount of time. Nothing feels better than marking out each item with the darkest, boldest permanent marker around.
As registration for classes is approaching for the fall, make sure you try to make a schedule that is convenient for you. Group your classes together at certain times and try to separate them from other aspects of your life. Classes are the least flexible part of your schedule, so it’s helpful to have a skeleton of your weekly routine you know you can work with.
Have a Support System. Always make time for the important people in your life. Whether it’s a call home or going out to eat on Franklin Street with friends, these relationships should always be top priority.
Simplify. Having a million little things cluttering your life can be chaotic. Get rid of extra baggage so that even when you are crazy busy, you don’t feel overwhelmed. Lighten your load – you don’t need three different moisturizers and sewing kits in your purse, try just sticking to the necessities. Even something as simple as erasing old e-mails, keeping your room clean or editing your Facebook “friends” list can take that extra weight off.
When you start feeling like there has to be something more than schoolwork and jobs, take some time for yourself to let loose and re-organize your life. As Tom Petty said, “The work never ends, but college does.” What you are supposed to learn here far exceeds the classroom, so take some risks and have some fun!