As most of you already know, it can be hard to balance things when you're a student: social life, sleep, and, oh yeah, SCHOOL! It's even harder if you work. I've been there. I've had to juggle so much in my life at times I don't get how I do it. I'll be the first to admit, I go a little crazy and sometimes lose it but I manage. From my years of experience I've compiled a list of tips on how to manage all those things in your life and STILL be fabulous!
1. Be Realistic
The fastest way to drown on too much to do is taking on too much at once. Example? Don't take on a job with too many hours if you're taking classes that you know you'll have to invest A LOT of time and work in. As much as we wish the day would extend, it won't. That leads me to my next tip, which is
2. Learn Time Management
I have yet to get the hang of this one myself. It is SO easy to lose track of time and get off focus for so many of us. From checking our fb a lot (guilty as charged), spending time on the internet (again, guilty as charged), and procrastinating on our homework (....yea, I'm no role model), we can end up swamped if we don't manage our time properly! In order to stay on track, it's good to keep a planner. At the beginning of each day (or the evening before), jot down things you want to accomplish. This will help you keep your focus.
Another thing, if you KNOW (like me) that certain things easily distract you and take a lot of your time, don't give in to them! Surfing the web and facebook are my vices. But rather than letting them consume me, I'm going to be different this semester: I'm going to use them as rewards. After I accomplish something I'm going to allot myself a LITTLE time to relax with the internet. 10 to 15 minutes is a good amount of time for a break. Then, I will resume my work. Try this tip and see if it works for you!
3. Always Make Time to Sleep
You've probably heard it said a jillion times already, so make this a jillion and one. If you're not well-rested you just aren't going to be productive. Before you think that a latté with extra shots of espresso is going to do the trick and you can get away with missing out on sleep, keep this in mind: caffeine is only a temporary fix. Not to mention if you're already a coffee drinker, you will need a bigger dosage for your body to actually become more alert. Pumping all that coffee in you can become very unhealthy very quickly if you overdose. You'll know you overdose if you start feeling shaky, your heart starts to race, your mind can't stay focused on one thought, and you start talking excessively. I have experienced this before and let me tell you: it is scary. Caffeine overdoses mess you up.
Oh, and if you like sugary coffee drinks, watch out. Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain, lethargy, abnormal sleeping behaviors/trouble falling asleep, and bloating.
4. Know When to Quit
Sometimes, we do take on too much.. We want to be ambitious and think that we can do anything and everything we want, and that's great! The thing is, we can't do everything at once. If you're taking all advanced/demanding classes, are working a lot of hours, are one or more extra-curricular activities, are going out a lot with your friends/boyfriend/girlfriend, AND are studying up for the SAT/LSAT/whatever big bad exam and are losing out on sleep, it's time to step back and look at your schedule. Over-scheduling yourself leads to anxiety and stress, which can build up into serious issues if you don't take care of what's causing it.
If you find yourself feeling like you're handling more than you can do, it's probably because you are. Look at what's taking up the most amount of time and start to prioritize. Cut back on how much you go out, try and get a co-worker to pick up some hours for you for a while, do whatever it takes, but ultimately...
5. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
If there's one thing I've learned as a "Do it All" student, it's that if you don't take care of your body in the business of your life, you WILL get sick. A few years ago I was working 18 hours a week and taking on a full college schedule (4 classes) and an extra-curricular activity. On top of that I was a big procrastinator then. Not proud of it. I had been working myself hard that semester with all my activities and depriving myself of sleep. One day I started to feel very sick and fatigued in class. I was hoping some lunch would make me feel better, but didn't do anything except take care of my hunger. I felt progressively worse and worse and realized there was no way I was going to be able to work my 5pm-12am shift later that day. Embarrassed and feeling sick, I had to call my boss to tell him I wasn't feeling well.
I then went home and rested. I immediately fell asleep and awoke as if nothing had ever been wrong with me earlier. Lack of sleep and doing too much had done me in and made me miss work.
While you're getting ready for the new school year, remember that it's ok to be ambitious. It's great actually! Just remember that we're not superheros and we need to remember to not take on more than we can chew. So have realistic expectations, be wise with your time, rest up, know when to step back,and be healthy. Good luck to everyone starting a new semester/school year!