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Prioritizing & Balance: 3 Ways to to Begin

October 22nd, 2009 admin


I can’t say I was surprised when the results of the latest poll showed that almost 25% of you chose “maintaining balance” as your top worry for this school year. Why? Well honestly, it is one of my top worries, too.

From balancing a budget (ugh!) to keeping on top of my workload, and trying to do laundry, remember to cook (and not burn) dinner, meeting with my friends for morning workouts and book club, and making time for my family and my sweetie, I am probably busier now than I have ever been!

So to keep all these balls in the air, I’ve been doing a lot of research–and soul searching–and I’m finally starting to get the hang of it. Here are 3 of my secrets to (mostly) having  success in the whole life-balance arena.

1. Prioritize.

If you’re anything like me, you start the day excited about all the things you can get done. So how is it that at the end of the day all you’ve done is spent 3 hours on facebook and written two (terrible) lines of an essay that’s due on Friday? You haven’t checked your priorities.
Each day I set myself a couple of goals (sometimes just one or two!) or tasks that MUST get done by the end of the day–and I start them ASAP.

2. Eliminate Distractions.

One of the biggest problems in our multi-tasking society is stimulus overload–there is so much going on that we can’t focus on the task at hand (even when it’s not homework!).

Taking away some of that stimulus helps your mind calm down and focus on what you’re doing, making you more efficient (so you have more free time) and even allowing you to enjoy fun things more.
Limit yourself to one or two things going on at a time, like maybe emailing with some music on. Simple things like only checking your email a couple times a day (instead of hourly… or more!), leaving the TV off, or signing out of chat when you’re writing a paper can help you get on with the work and on to the play!

3. Set a Schedule.

Growing up, Monday and Wednesday were laundry days. Every. Single. Week.

I never understood how important that was until I moved out on my own (and at first only did laundry when I ran out of underwear). It isn’t so much the laundry itself that’s important, but the comfort and manageability of a routine.

Before I set a schedule, I felt like I was always rushing to catch up–and I never could. It was discouraging. After a while I figured out how that planning my week left more time for catch-up and social time. Here’s how to start.

  • Print out your class schedule. This is the skeleton of your weekly routine, and it’s already made for you.
  • Add in your other can’t-miss activities like work, club meetings, religious attendance, athletic training, etc.
  • Look over your week so far. Fill in the gaps with study time or other chores, and choose which days are your laundry/grocery shopping/whatever days based on which have the lightest workload.
  • Schedule time for relaxing and fun. If you don’t you will feel burnt out and start resenting and hating your schedule. 🙂

What about you? How do you keep your crazy life in balance?

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7 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Polina  |  October 23rd, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Thanks for this post! I definitely can relate to feeling overwhelmed with responsibilities these days – juggling full-time work, classes and the gym. Setting a schedule is definitely important.

  • 2. Make Time For Time: 3. Si&hellip  |  October 30th, 2009 at 1:02 am

    […] do this most effectively, find an area without distraction so you definitely keep other tasks out of the way.  That includes switching off devices and […]

  • 3. Kim  |  October 30th, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    I find that when I do get burnt out, like after mid-term weeks, that talking out my priorities with the counseling center on campus really helps out. I know a lot of university offer these a certain number of sessions for free—use ’em!

  • 4. Jamie  |  October 31st, 2009 at 7:23 am

    @Kim: That is a brilliant suggestion. Meeting with a counselor (for free, no less) is a great way to get your mind back in the game after the insanity that is test week. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to a counselor, talking it out with a parent, sibling, or friend that you trust is a great option, too.

  • 5. J  |  November 4th, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Great tips!
    I definately get overwhelmed with midterms and assignments so I’ll be sure to try a few of these tips before I begin my work.
    Thanks!

  • 6. *eLLa*  |  November 13th, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I think it is important to find the time of the day that you are most productive and schedule your studies and errands around that. I am a morning person so I start my day with errands and getting all my stuff done that requires me to be out and about. I usually find myself less productive in the afternoon so i usually read, gym or have my down time. Evenings are my best study time so from about 6 I get all my work and assignments done.

  • 7. holly  |  April 24th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Hi I agree it is hard for me to balance my family work and school and other appointments.

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