Mention the words “work-life balance” to a room of university students and you might be met with a tirade of hysterical laughter.
“Does such a thing even exist?”
“My granddaddy told me about that when I was younger.”
“Myth, ladies and gentlemen, myth.”
The truth? It is possible to maintain a decent social life and do well in school – not easy, nobody will ever tell you that, but, yes, it is still possible. And no, this isn’t a skill reserved for the high-powered-caffeinated-captain-of-the-debate-team-but-also-member-of-the-student-council-straight-A-student-and-(did I mention?)-Varsity-soccer-player. It’s a skill you (and everyone else) can consistently work to develop throughout life. Here are five tips to help you get started:
You know the saying, “You can have it all, but not all at once”? There is no single person who has his or her responsibilities 100% together 100% of the time. The key is to prioritize which of your tasks are essential to keeping you functional throughout the day. What must you get done so that you do not turn into a blubbering mass of anxiety? Follow the Pareto Principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of outcomes are attributed to 20% of all work. This means that only a few, vital tasks – that special 20% – have the most impact on how well you do in a day. Make sure you know what your most important tasks are for the day.
2. SAY NO
A common practice of highly successful people is that they don’t try to juggle more than they can handle. You have to be realistic about your capabilities. Learn to be honest with coworkers and family, and to say “no” occasionally. If the new task you are being asked to do is not a priority, don’t do it.
3. DECLUTTER YOUR MIND
Write things down. Invest in a notebook for writing your daily tasks. It will help empty your mind of all the things you have to do and present your thoughts in a tangible medium. Get the meaner tasks out of the way: if something takes 10 minutes or less, do it right then. Straighten out your room, empty the dishwasher, take out the trash, or fix yourself an energizing smoothie. These are all small, routine things you can easily get out of the way and will help you feel more productive.
4. LEAN ON PEOPLE
Delegate! If there is a task you can ask someone else to take care of, do so. You’re not superhuman. Ask for help when you need it. If you find yourself overworked, recharge with family and friends for a bit.
5. GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK
I’ll say it again: you’re not superhuman. Sometimes, it’s okay for things to be “good enough”. Let’s say you wrote a report with 30 recommended sources instead of 35. Would you still get an A on that report without the extra 5 sources? Yes? Then that is good enough. Go with 30. You might not impress your professor as much but you’ll still get the grade you want.
These simple tips should help you realize that creating balance in your life is a skill that you can develop, step by step. The best of luck to you all!