5 Steps for a Balanced Semester

As a graduating senior constantly writing my future memoir in my head, I've come to refer to my time in college as the “semester of X.” The semester of the break-up, the semester of studying for fun, the semester I was actually in shape. We tend to focus so heavily on one priority that it actually consumes us, leaving little if any room for anything else in our lives.


We have so many things to balance: academics, applications, service, work, finances, family responsibilities, relationships, physical and mental health, just to name a few. Prioritizing the ones that matter the most can help people cope with being overwhelmed. For one, that’s rarely a simple task. Additionally, by prioritizing some things you are ignoring others by default, which can prevent you from feeling fulfilled by the things you are really rocking.


Perhaps, the most important lesson that I’ve learned from college is that like the food pyramid, people benefit when their lives are in a good balance. Here are 5 steps for having a more balanced life this semester.


1) Really Get to Know Your Calendar


I’m sure you’ve understood the vitality of your planner system since your eye-glazed over reading your first semester sllyabi. Whether you use a traditional planner or a digital system, make sure that understand the way you’ve filled it in.


If you’re just starting for the semester (I know we’re a few weeks in, it’s totally okay!), make sure that the colors that you are using symbolize different things. This will help you look at your week, and see what you’re loading up on and the things in your life that need a little love. Further, make sure that you have some way of visualizing how full your week is. This is really easy on Google Calendar, but can be done in almost any of sort system. Mark what tasks are urgent or set, and what dates can be pushed off for another week.


Every week, look at your calendar and set your intentions for the week, whether you want to invest in your relationships, or whether you want to kill that next paper. Then look at your calendar and try to take off one thing, more often than not you’ll find that at least one thing is probably not worth your time. Take it off. You’ll have more time for fun things that pop up during the semester.




2) Look at Yourself Holistically


We all have one thing that we excel at and feel confident in and another that we may try to hide. This leads to us prioritizing our talents and letting our faults become even more out of control. Spend some time at the onset of this semester (if you didn’t on New Year’s Eve) to think critically about the parts of you that you would like to develop. Then develop them.

For some of us, it might be our GPA. This semester, spend more time trying to master the subjects that hold some control over us. Learn to enjoy Fridays in the library, by finding a study method and rhythm that works for you. Also spend some time reflecting on your major and whether it actually engages you and fits your skill set.


For others, it might be our physical health. This semester, try out different exercises and schedules to find something that suits your needs. Learn what your body needs to be healthy, whether that means tackling your allergies, or drinking more water. Set a tangible goal, like running a 5k at the end of the semester, or drinking the right amount of water during weekdays.


3) Invest in the People Around You


Being busy interferes with the time that you have to be with other people. The things in our lives that make us busy can’t always be more important than the people in our lives. If it makes you happy to go home for the holidays, do that and work ahead so that you can take that time to truly connect with your family. Your friends are a great support network for you, and equally deserve your support at times. Introduce yourself to your classmates, even in your big lecture halls. You never know who you might meet.


Spending more intentional and frequent time with your friends and family can be a great mood booster, which will help you be more successful in other aspects of your life. Plus, the stronger your relationships are the more secure you will feel, and the stronger your networks will be when it’s time to look for jobs, or visit with someone when you travel.




4) Spend Time Analyzing your Trajectory


Most goals are complex and can’t be reached in just one way. Beyond that, there isn’t one right way to do college. Spend some time thinking about your own personal trajectory, where you are in life, what you’ve come from, and where you plan on going. Think about the places you want to live, the career you want to have, and the impact you want to make. This will give you an idea of the sorts of skills you need to be developing in college, and the experiences that will actually matter in the future.


Once you have an idea of where you’re headed, think about what it takes to get there. Evaluate if the internship you’re working will ultimately help you, whether your social skills will need some sharpening, or whether you might need some coding classes or to change majors. Ultimately, this practice will leave you more intentional and will inspire more fulfilling service, or at least leave you more time in your schedule for some much-needed self-care.


5) Become More Efficient


This isn’t as hard as it sounds. Efficiency can be increased with something as easy as focusing on your work when you’re on the clock, so you can get off earlier. While multitasking can seem like a no-brainer for getting things done quicker, it actually leaves none of your brain for the tasks at hand, resulting in much longer bursts. Some tasks, however, just make sense like putting on your face mask before you sit down to study, or starting the washer before you go for a walk.


Learn what tasks need to be stacked, and what tasks really deserve your attention. While, Netflix can play in the background for most things in life, it really won’t help your papers and you won’t know what’s going on in your show afterward anyways.




This semester should be the semester of you. Each person’s journey and needs differs, find a way to balance all of your needs while continuing to improve and grow. While everything can seem suffocating, there’s always a way to strike more balance and to have more time to invest in yourself.