I must admit it has been quite the adjustment getting back into the swing of things as far as school goes. Not taking Summer classes really gave me the time to not think about school -- so I was having a bit of a hard time and I still am making sure I do not fall behind on assignments and balancing my daily life. Let’s face it if I fall behind on my school work I will never catch up. The weeks are flying by and I am officially a few days shy of a month into my 2019 Fall semester. And to show that I am trying to be the best student I can be all while having a personal life, I have come up with three (3) ways to that have continuously held me accountable for being able to have time away from the books.
I get it no one likes to plan out everything they do but trust me it is a life saver once you know what to do next so you can have the fun you want all while navigating this busy life of yours.
1. Use a Planner
A planner can be intimidating at first and I completely understand – it does not have to be crazy expensive and it does not need to be the size of a 5-subject notebook either. Get what works for you. I got into using planners all the way through during undergrad so what better way to continue doing that than to use it for Graduate school as well. The first thing you want to do if you’re in school like me is write all due dates for exams, quizzes, papers, video conferences, or whatever your professors throw on the syllabus into your planner that way you can see everything at a glance as you flip through and the week approaches. If you work a 9 to 5, add work assignments, projects, meetings, conferences, etc. into your planner. I advise that you use colored ink so you indicate what each color means and know what class or work assignment that color represents. Decorate your planner as well it makes it more fun to open and write things down – use decorative tapes, stickers, and whatever else is fun for you. I usually order my stickers and tapes off amazon, but any craft store should have a great selection. Aside from assignments add your social life events in that planner too; for example, brunch, movie dates, self-care, anything that keeps you going as a person add it to your planner that way you know what is coming up so you can manage your time.
2. Time Management and Time Blocking
Time blocking takes practice and this is something that I had to learn and is still learning to master, but it is so beneficial to make the most of the time you have in-between classes, work, freelance projects and life. Time blocking is basically blocking out a specific amount of time to focus on one thing, get that one thing completed and move on to something else. For instance, if you have an hour for lunch, while you gobble down that tasty delicious meal you can simultaneously work on completing a few more paragraphs of that paper. Or if you commute on the trains or buses (like I do) you can read or work on a project for the duration of your commute. Time management/time blocking works best if you set a timer for that specific task; an hour for reading, 30-mins for research, etc. once the timer goes off you move on to the next thing so you do not get bored and things get completed in a timely manner. Be realistic with your time, if you know that it takes you longer than 30-mins to do research bump up the timer to the appropriate time and knock that research out of the way. The same goes for any other projects you have in the works.
3. Execution aka Do Not Procrastinate
Now that we have covered planning and time management it’s officially time to execute the things that you have to do. Procrastination gets the best of us, myself included. It’s really easy to scroll for an hour on Instagram and forget that you don’t have time to waste. Here’s a tip - set screen time on your apps – I do this all the time. My phone automatically goes on “Do Not Disturb” at 8pm and comes off “Do Not Disturb” at 9am – between that time I try my hardest to not pick up my phone to go on socials because at 8pm I start whining down to relax and get ready for bed. The same goes for your work, freelance project, etc. set screen times for the apps you frequent throughout the day. Once the screen time is set get all your essentials, snacks, water, chargers, and a comfortable work space and do not pick up the phone during those hours you set the screen time unless it is an emergency or your work is done. Fight the urge to be on social until you have crossed that assignment off your planner page for that specific day. The more you practice the better you will get at it.
Do not beat yourself up if you do not get the hang of this the first time – it takes time and I still get caught up and have to check myself, but what matters is the fact that you are making an effort. When I am on track and implement these steps, I have time to hang out and not worry about homework because everything is completed and handed in way before the deadline.
How do you balance your social life and work/school?