Achieving a Balance Between Work and Life
While you are reading this, I hope you’re not taking too much time away from your four group projects, two up-coming exams, the laundry you’ve been putting off, your roommate’s need for attention, your “supposed” gym-time, and most importantly, calling your mother. During these jam-packed years of college, we have a very short amount of time to get accustomed to being away from home. On top of that, you’re expected to get involved on campus, begin adulting, and start your career. It’s a lot and it is important to recognize that. Throwing yourself a “woe- is-me” party is not the case, but rather, your focus should be creating a sense of happiness in your day-to-day with a balance between work and life.
Work/life balance is defined on an individual basis and should vary from day to day. Blocking off the same number of hours for different activities to reach “balance” is not quite the way to do it. Your days will have different things with varying timeframes, so trying to make them all look the same is unrealistic and stressful. Try scheduling your day to achieve two concepts critical to work-life balance; achievement and enjoyment. These two concepts answer the “why” behind life itself and ultimately give you satisfaction, pride, love, and a sense of well-being.
Before the start of each week, take 20 minutes to map out what it’s going to look like and how you can prepare. A planner is the best friend you never knew you were missing. With your planner, you can physically see how you’re making time for crucial areas of your work-life balance. Here are some tips in the 5 areas of your life that can help you can plan for and tailor to develop feelings of achievement and enjoyment.
If you can’t manage to fall asleep at the same time every day, work your day out so that you will get at least 7-9 hours. This is the range most healthy adults need in order to properly function. If your mind isn’t rested, your body will start to fall behind. Lack of proper sleep leads to forgetfulness, depressed moods, irritability, weakened immune systems, weight gain, and an increased chance of accidents. Set sleep as a priority.
How you are fueling your body has a direct correlation to its physical and mental function. However, a healthy diet on a college budget is tricky. If you’re lucky enough to have a dining hall plan, steer away from fried, sugary, and overly processed food. Keep healthy snacks in your dorm and be sure to put some in your backpack. Aim for three meals a day, avoid late night snacking, stock up on superfoods, and give meal prepping a chance. Remember, if you don’t buy the unhealthy food, you won’t be tempted to eat it. Fuel your body with what it physically needs to thrive. Oh, and DRINK WATER ALWAYS.
You don’t need a lecture from me about what it technically is, but the beauty is that your options are endless! Exercise isn’t about going to exert all of your physical energy, but rather the feeling of accomplishment and self-care. Take the time to schedule in some exercise whenever works best for your week. It can be everyday or every few days. Just remember that exercising will never make you feel bad about yourself.
This is the draining force behind most college student because of a lack of organization. Take time to study your syllabus because this takes away the surprise factor of assignments. Find a place you can deem as your “productive space” that keeps you in focus. Usually, a library, coffeeshop, TUC, an empty classroom or somewhere quiet is the best place to set up camp. Your bedroom/dorm isn’t recommended because your brain will associate your room with sleep and relaxation.
If you’re not taking the time to do things that fulfill you as a human, you will live a long, boring life. Break up the strenuous work you do by putting yourself first. Think to yourself “what is something that I love, and that I would do for free?”. These are things like spending time in nature, petting all of the dogs, baking tasty things, dancing with two left feet, or setting time apart to listen to the one and only Britney Spears. Whatever it may be, be sure that it makes you truly happy.
Achieving a work-life balance is an everchanging concept that moves as you do. It is personal and completely tailored to what makes you happy inside and out. Don’t accept the chaos and prepare for your weeks. Keep the “whys” behind what you’re doing at the center of your days and remember to fulfill your heart, soul, and body with the things you love best. Oh, and drink water.