How do I find balance?

 

“How do I balance a social life, good grades, and enough sleep in college?”

Welcome to the rest of your life: finding balance.  I would be lying to you if I said I had this mastered in college, or even that I am a master of balance now.  Business Insider posted an article yesterday about 9 things everyone should be able to do by age 30.  (Personally, I think you should be able to accomplish the first 7 by the time you are 25, if not before then.)  But #9 is work/life balance.  Straight from the article…

Some experts have argued that the key is less about work-life balance than work-life purpose, or prioritizing what’s important to you and fitting it into a composite of who you are, and what you do with your time.

I agree.

Lately, I’ve been reading Bittersweet by Shauna Neiquist. If you’re looking for something new to read, I highly recommend it.  Every chapter has a nugget of truth I’ve clung to, but one chapter in particular has really affected me.

I love  the illusion of being able to do it all, and I’m fascinated with people who seem to do that, who have challenging careers and beautiful homes and vibrant minds and well-tended abs.

One of my core fears I that someone would think I can’t handle as much as the next person.

I don’t know about you, but that really resonates with me.  I want to do it ALL. And be seen like I can do it all.  I want people to think I’m super woman.  And that’s probably my biggest challenge in finding balance.  I say that I want it, but deep down, I’m not willing to admit I can’t do it all, and therefore create the balance I desperately need.  This is what Shauna goes on to say…

It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about.  What’s hard…is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.

That kind of makes me break out in hives.  How about you?  So with all that in mind, a few things for you to think through in order to help you find balance.

1. What are your weekly priorities? 

You’ve said you need help balancing social life, grades, and sleep.   From that I can gather, your priorities are time with friends, school work, and rest.  But I’m sure there are more.  What are the things you need to accomplish or experience every week for you to be doing “what you want your life to be about.”

2.  What can you cut? 

I find this is much harder for students to answer than college graduates.  There are a lot of things you have to do in school (go to class, read your books, write papers, intern) that you simply can’t cut.  I get that.  But surely there is something you can cut that isn’t contributing to your top priorities.

3.  What is the immediate priority?

When making decisions in the moment–Do I stay in and write this paper or do I go to the party with all my friends?– Ask yourself what is the immediate priority?  If the paper is due tomorrow, that’s the immediate priority.  If it’s not due for a few days, but you know if you don’t start on it now, you won’t get an A, the question becomes “Do I care more about an A or hanging out with my friends tonight?”  Your parents will hate me for saying this, but choosing the A doesn’t have to be your decision.  It usually was for me.  But for a lot of my friends, they would rather relax and spend time with friends and take the B.  Looking back, I sometimes wonder if I should have cut myself some more slack.

4. Watch how you’re spending your time.

A lot of time, we are wasting hours in the day without realizing it.  My favorite time management activity came from an RA training class.  I did this every year–even through grad school.  Download this Time Management Worksheet and then track your week in 30-minute increments.  Don’t try to alter your schedule because you’re tracking your time.  Just live life like you normally would and record it.  Then after a week, go back and see where you wasted time or if there were things you can cut out in the future.

5. It’s okay to watch TV.

Or read a non-school book.  Or play your guitar.  Or take a nap.  Don’t get overly obsessed with time management & balance that you don’t allow yourself to relax, blow of steam, or just hang out.  That stuff is important too.  It keeps us sane.

How about you?  What do you do to try to keep balance or manage your busy schedule well?

2 thoughts on “How do I find balance?”

  1. I found that I actually opened up more time during the week even when I started to pick up hours at work, and not do any work on Sundays, and work out 3-5 times a week. The key, I had to make sure I did all my reading and hw by Saturday night since I couldn’t just let it slip to Sunday. Also, setting a time that I will have to be in bed by helped me to buckle down and work more efficiently during my day.

    1. Totally. I always tell students the more structured and busy you’re time is, the less amount of time you’ll waste. I was way more productive when I was working part-time, taking a full schedule, involved in orgs, etc. than my freshman year when I wasn’t involved or working. And LOVE the idea of a set bed time. Everyone could use that!

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