I look back on college and high school, and I’m amazed at how much energy I had back in the day. In high school, I would be in class from 8 am to 3 pm then have practice afterward until 6 pm only to go home, shower, eat dinner, do homework, and hang out with my friends if there was time.
And then I got to college.
My first semester, I signed up for all 8 am and 9 am classes. I thought I had it in me. (I didn’t.) I don’t know what it is about that transition from high school to college, but my ability to get up for a class at 8 am disappeared, but I still juggled all of my class reading (life of an English major), my part-time job at Barnes and Noble. And don’t get me started on how I am now. I’m dead tired after a work meeting. After work, all I have energy for is going to the dog park and letting my little wiener dog, Molly, run wild. So how did I do?
The first step in juggling everything while in school is overcoming the generational fear of missing out. FOMO sucks. No one wants to feel like they are missing out on anything fun. It’s the one time that you don’t hang out with your friends that something absolutely nuts happens.
But is missing out on something fun worth falling behind on school? There is definitely a time to slack off and let loose, but you also can’t go too wild. That skill of knowing when you can and can’t go out with friends even when you have schoolwork is something learned with practice.
The first step is setting your priorities and knowing what sacrifices to make and not make. You’re not in college to go out all of the time. (Even though it can feel like that’s all that others are doing.) Is going out with friends or getting your degree your top priority?
Don’t procrastinate on things you can do in advance. I know me saying that is like the pot calling the kettle black. I am the biggest procrastinator on this planet, with one of my college roommates coming in at a close second. Some of us thrive on the pressure that procrastination gives us. We need the deadline as motivation to do the work; otherwise, we won’t start.
Manage your time
And if you are like me and need that pressure, you need to stay organized, which is just as hard as not procrastinating. My trick is just getting set up and organized once at the beginning of each semester. I would dump homework assignment, quiz, test, paper, and project due date into my phone’s calendar.
If you can create a one-stop-shop for all of your due dates, you can at least count how long you can procrastinate on a certain assignment.
For us procrastinators, we need all the help we can get when it comes to managing our time right. But we need to do focus on doing things, like:
- Jot down your schedule for the week
- Make a weekly to-do list
- Prioritize your work
- Break large tasks into smaller ones
- Set goals and deadlines for projects
- Be honest with yourself with how much time you spend on Netflix and playing video games
And if you aren’t a procrastinator, then lucky you – must be nice! Just know that if you procrastinate, you will definitely miss out on some of the stuff your friends get up to, but you have probably already experienced that.
One time, I procrastinated on a paper so hard that I spent my birthday writing in the library. Do you know how demoralizing it is to spend your entire birthday in a library researching and writing? But there was just something in my head that wouldn’t let me start my paper until the last possible minute. We all live with the consequences of our choices, and that one kind of sucked.
Balance will come with practice. You might overdo it in your first semester and not go out at all. Or maybe you will go out too much, and your grades or sleep schedule will take a hit.
Everything in moderation is a phrase we can use in many different aspects of life, but it rings true for balancing work, school, and social life. If all you do is work and school, you will burn out and have a miserable time. If all you do is go out with friends, then you might flunk out of a class or maybe even college in general. Just be patient with yourself, learn from your mistakes, and figure out what system works best for you. There is a time and place for everything.
Beware of stress
Pay attention to your stress levels. While stress can help you stay focused and help you stay motivated to study and work harder, too much of it can be bad for your mental and physical health.
If you’re feeling the stress, take time to
- Meditate, get a massage, do breathing exercises.
- Talk to a friend
- Ask for help
The final countdown
There were always three weeks that my apartment was dead quiet. Most of the semester, there was usually music playing while someone was cooking or watching anime in the living room or raging in 2K in their rooms. But for the last three weeks of every semester, it was crunch time.
The first two weeks were about that final grade push. We were doing the mental math to know what grades you needed to get to maintain your GPA. The final week was the worst. The dishes would pile up, and everyone was either sleeping their all-nighters off or in the library working on their finals. But right after finals were over, all of us would set up in the living room and play zombies. Three or four TVs in the same room with us all sitting on our two couches just being as loud as possible, slaying zombies until the sun came up.
My point is that there is a time to grind for school, and there is a time to hang out and slack off with your friends. It is just a matter of you figuring out how to balance it to make it work.